(Published in D.G. in early 1990’s)


I have been as heavily involved with third Reich edged weapons as my finances would allow for nearly a decade now.  I still remember the First SA I bought for $100 (Carlsburg – Dual Beer Bottles), from whom I bought it, and to whom I traded it towards my first name only ground Rohm.  It was exciting to find these treasures, fondle them for a while and then in time pass them on.  It was also I my first couple of years that I bought a bad SS and my eyes began to be opened.  I later sold it as junk and chalked up the loss as education expense.  My eyes were fully opened after I made my first excursion to the big one in Baltimore.  I spent all my money on a beautiful N.P.E.A. student.  I didn’t pay attention to who I bought from or even really consider that it might not be “right” (2 big mistakes).  After the “fever” (to buy it) subsided, and I was able to look at it more objectively, as well as get a more educated opinion of it, I came to the harsh realization that it was “bad” all the way.  It was very discouraging to loose $800 like that.  I can see how many in that situation could completely abandon the hobby.  The guy who sold me that bad dagger may not have known what it was, but it’s just as likely that he did.


Things are no better today.  They are really worse.  Humped up , parts, and all together bad material is all around us.  The sale of bad material is a common practice and a topic of discussion.  It is really unfortunate for the whole community that some are so short sighted and greedy that they can drive many away from the hobby.  In the last two hours of this “MAX” I was engaged in a conversation in front of my table with a guy who has bought 3 pieces from me in the last four years.  He asked my opinion of an SS he had paid $350 for through the mail.  I advised him to return it if he could and that I thought  that the only part of the rig that had ever been any good were the nickel cross guards, the lower of which had the Gau mark buffed out.  While we were thus engaged, a young guy showed up with whom I had talked a few times, given him the basic SA lecture, etc. and he excitedly showed us the SS he had just bought from a guy who was packing up to leave the show.  He asked “What do you think?”


I said “Bad all the way.”  I could see his heart drop to his stomach as he asked “Are you sure?”  I said I would not be interested in the piece if it were offered to me for $25.  The kid literally ran away and did catch the guy and got his $350 back.  Now maybe the guy who sold this kid the dagger did not know what it was, but it’s just as likely that he did.  We continued our three way conversation and looked at the remaining dagger more closely.  The red flags should have gone up on each of these purchases.  First, if it looks like it was made yesterday, it is very likely that it was, and secondly, it was sucker priced.  A “good” SS in this condition is worth over $1,000 today.


I am in no way an “expert”.  There are scores of items that I will never own let alone become familiar with.  It’s unfortunate that, when we find something different, the first thing we have to consider is whether or not it is real.  It’s also unfortunate that the politics of the business will not allow us to be completely frank with respect to our opinion regarding the authenticity of items.  Unless I am well acquainted with someone, I am very reluctant to offer my real opinion on what I see as a “bad” piece.  All I need is one of the good old boys bad mouthing me.  I might as well stay home.


I want to believe that the good people selling this stuff out number the bad at least 3 or 4 to 1.  I know many of the good and a few of the others.  If you are one of the 10% of the individuals who are wise enough to subscribe to DG but not confident enough in your own experience to buy most anything, anywhere, any time, please consider what the 90% have spent tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of years (collectively) to learn. 


  1. Know who you are buying from.  Know where they will be next week.  Are they willing to take an item back?  Will they pay for the cost of an unfavorable authentication and refund your money?


  1. If you see something you don’t like about an item, don’t buy it.  The more you look at it, the worse it will get.


If you can steadily adhere by Rules 1 and 2, read no further, you’re all set.  But we are all looking for a diamond under a rock, so be careful.


  1. If it’s too good to be true, it very well may be.  Look out for the sucker price.  Why didn’t someone else buy it before the show opened?


  1. Buy the books.  It’s money well spent.


Be careful, have fun, good hunting.



                                                                        D.D. Harris