Militaria Shows and Personal Libraries

Today was the first biannual Duffle Bag Militaria Show since the COVID-19 closures in 2020. Being long time friends with the owners, and having too much stuff, we purchased a vendor spot and set up shop. On the table was the last of the “Sparks31” research library that we’ve spent the last three years offloading.

For those beginners getting kitted out, there was a lot of good military surplus field gear at the show which would have worked just fine for anyone. Some of it was priced a little high, but they don’t make things like ALICE rucks and old-school M56 field gear anymore. It is also built better and costs less than the stuff you’d find at REI. People have been camping and setting up contingency kits with military surplus gear since the 1950s when all the World War II surplus started hitting the market. The show is over, but the store that sponsors it is only a half-mile down the road, and is the only place on the planet where you can still get hardcopies of Dystonaut Press’ Grid-Down Communications, until they run out. Other than the three or four copies that were dumped into a book donation slot this evening, those are the last ones available for sale, anywhere.

At the peak of our research efforts in 2018, the library consisted of about 300 linear feet of bookshelf space. That’s the length of a football field. It was a pain in the ass to keep and maintain. Since then, pieces have been passed along to a local hackerspace, given away to friends, sold at hamfests, and finally donated to a charity that rescues used books. The final lot marked for disposal was two Sterlite containers of assorted military manuals and survival books that were waiting for the proper venue to sell. Doesn’t seem like a lot, until you bring them to a show and they cover an Eight Foot table. In the end, we sold about half the lot. The remainder went straight to a book donation bin. Selling at a show or flea market is not worth the time unless your just selling your excess as a hobby for a little extra spending money, or have a few thousand bucks of inventory and sell at least 50% of it.

Physical books take up a lot of fucking space, and are vulnerable to changes in environmental conditions where they’re stored. With the advent of cheap USB storage, one can fit an entire library on your keyring. My late writer Dave Wildflower, did this very thing, and the results of this work are right here. You can download the entire Wildflower Doomsday Disk Collection, and find yourself very well prepared. Then there is the holy grail, so to speak.

Back in the day, hardcore survivalists kept their library on microfiche, along with a small reader that would work without electricity. This is a true TEOTWAWKI library format. A complete “Pocket Survival” library (5 boxes worth) was for sale at today’s show for the bargain price of $200. It remained unsold at the end of the day, and has subsequently been placed in a cache as a hedge against an uncertain future.

We did encounter a bright moment during the show we’d like to share. A young gentleman in his mid/late teens came by with his dad, who recognized the Kurt Saxon books on the table. After a brief conversation to ensure his dad and him were cool, the young gentleman walked away with all five of Kurt Saxon’s Survivor volumes for $10 each. Could have gotten more for them maybe, but sometimes it’s not about the money.

Author: Ticom