Every collector needs “stuff”. What that “stuff” is depends on what is being collected, and what level the collector is at. Some things the Military Insignia Collector wants are pretty standard no matter what is collected, but some things are a little more specialized. Here are the most common things an Insignia Collector wants.
Display and Storage
One of the most useful options for both storage, and display of Military Insignia is the Riker Mount. Developed some seventy years ago for museum specimens, these low cost chipboard and glass cases have been used by many different types of collectors for some time now. Riker Mounts come in a variety of sizes, and can be purchased online from many sources for a very reasonable cost. If you live in the big city, Riker Mounts can be purchased from stores that cater to Insect and Butterfly collectors.
Another popular method of storing cloth insignia is in photo albums. The type of photo album you are looking for have the pages with plastic sheets you lift up and place photos under. They are often referred to as “Magnetic” photo albums.
Handheld UV Light
Commonly called a “black light”, a handheld UV light source is a common tool used by Military Insignia Collectors. Handheld black lights start in the $10 range and go on up from there depending on the quality and features. A Google search will provide you with many places to purchase them from.
There is a caveat with this suggestion. Some wavelengths of UV light can be harmful. If you chose to get one of these for your Insignia Collector, pick a pair of protective glasses also. They not only protect the eyes, but enhance the contrast of what is being seen.
One would think that purchasing Military Insignia as a gift would be a good plan. In most cases it is not. A beginner collector would likely appreciate getting a fist full of insignia. Lots of 10+ insignia can be found on eBay for reasonable prices, and would provide good seed material for a collector just starting out. Once a collector starts settling down to the “thing” they wish to collect, giving insignia as a gift becomes a bad plan.
If you are set on buying insignia for your collector, and you’re knowledge of the hobby is limited, there are two avenues open to you. You can ask them to pick a specific insignia, from a specific place. Or if they frequent a particular antique shop or militaria store, you can purchase a gift certificate. Both options may sound a little harsh or impersonal, but they will allow you to avoid purchasing either a fake insignia, or an insignia that does not fit into your collector’s collection.
If you know what your Military Insignia Collector collects, and can find out what books and publications they already own, a Reference Book would be a very welcomed gift. An online search of Amazon, or Barnes and Noble will garner multiple titles to chose from. The downside is that the more specialized the book is, the more expensive it is.
Finding the perfect gift for a Military Insignia Collector may be a bit tougher than most people. But with a little research into what the collector is doing, and where they are in the hobby, you do have options. If at the end of the day you’re still at a loss, there is always the prepaid credit card. Be sure that you include a nice note telling them to get what they want for their collection and not something foolish like gas for their car.