Experts will be on hand to review military artifacts

Experts in all eras of military artifacts will be at the Virginia War Memorial’s Artifacts Roadshow” this weekend.

Have you ever wondered where that old sword you hang above the fireplace came from? Is it an authentic Civil War-era piece, like the family legend says? Maybe you just want to know a bit more about that hand-me-down from your grandfather’s war days? On Saturday you’ll have a chance to find out.

The Virginia War Memorial will host the “Artifacts Roadshow,” allowing the public a chance for experts to review their military-related memorabilia. It’s the second such event that the Virginia War Memorial has hosted.

“It’s just fun to see what people bring in,” said Jeb Hockman, Director of Marketing for the Virginia War Memorial.

At the inaugural event in January, some of the items brought in included a sword from the War of 1812 and a Nazi uniform collected by a soldier during WWII. There were even mysteries: a handgun kept as a memento by a soldier in the Korean War actually came from Spain–no explanation how it got to the other side of the world. “People love hearing that story,” Hockman said. “It gives them a real connection to the item.”

The initial idea for the event came from memorial curator Jesse Smith, one of the two experts who will be on hand Saturday. Smith heard of a similar event held annually in Quantico, and given the popularity of TV shows like Antiques Roadshow, the memorial staff decided to try one themselves. But with a slight twist: only military-related items. “The people we have here, whatever era it is, they know about it,” Hockman said about the expertise of the Virginia War Memorial staff.

To distinguish Saturday’s event from the inaugural attempt in January, the memorial has made two changes. The first has been to increase advertising for the event in the hopes of surpassing the 65 who attended in January. Another change stems from a concern at the first show. “We did have someone who brought in a weapon and didn’t know it was loaded,” Hockman said. To prevent this on Saturday, the memorial staff have enlisted the help of the Colonial Shooting Academy. The academy will check every weapon at the door, making sure that they are either disabled or unloaded. One thing hasn’t changed: this event is not a chance to sell items.

The reviews are free, but the Virginia War Memorial won’t be offering money for exceptional memorabilia. “We can give them people to contact, but that’s not why we do this,” Hockman said. Unlike a trade show, where an appraiser may withhold certain information as an interested buyer, Hockman said you can trust the information provided on Saturday will be fair and unbiased. “We have no monetary interest, so you get the real story,” Hockman said.

“Artifacts Roadshow” will take place on Saturday, June 16th at 10am. The event is free and open to the public.

stock photo by Aldo Fonticiella

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Stephen Nielsen

Stephen Nielsen is a contributing journalist for RVANews and makes a mean pulled pork sandwich.

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