12 January in Le Mans, 14 in Puy-en-Velay, 22 in Lyon, 24 in Laval … Sales of old military objects, called "militaria", are legions at the beginning of the year. "I prefer to talk about sales of historical souvenirs, says Nicolas Dugoujon, an expert in the sale of Lyon. The militaria has long been the poor relationship of the art market, but, unlike many other universes, has not declined, and recruits even new amateurs, historical memories with precision. "
This market segment includes weapons of course, but also decorations, elements of uniforms, swords, documents … Collectors are interested in the entire military past. With a constant: each nationality focuses mainly on its own history. An exception, however: the first French empire. "It is practically the only international market with collectors all over the world.The last sword of the imperial guard that I made the experience was acquired by a South American, says Nicolas Dugoujon.
A renewed interest thanks to video games
On the side of the French amateurs, the XXis the century is in the spotlight. With newcomers, who are interested in military items through magazines, TV shows, but also video games! " Medal of Honor or call of Duty shows very well made and faithful weapons to the spirit of origin. They also invite experts … And suddenly, these games sometimes arouse vocations ", funny Nicolas Dugoujon.
Some items sell a few tens of euros, like a bowl that is less than 20 euros.
Among the most sought after objects, the memories of the elite troops, as the equipment of the American paratroopers of D-Day, those of the "aces" of aviation (this title was obtained after five victories in air combat), or anything related to the Resistance and Liberation, including the crosses of the Liberation order. The memories of the First World War, on the other hand, attracted renewed interest due to recent commemorations.
The budgets committed to embarking on a military collection are extremely diverse. "The collectors themselves are both looking for price items and more common items for the same period, all sold in this area, insists Philippe Casal, a crier in Puy-en-Velay. Some items sell a few tens of euros, like a bowl that is less than 20 euros. But it takes from 150 to 200 euros for a general cap of the 70s, between 500 and 600 euros for a sword of the First Empire (from 15,000 to 20,000 euros if it comes from the Imperial Guard), or from 800 to 1 000 euros for a First Empire flintlock, model 1777 modified year IX.
On the other hand, it is more difficult to evaluate for the XX firearmsis century. Some old weapons were used during the terrorist attacks in France, the law has recently strengthened. Nicolas Dugoujon summarizes this complex legislation concerning the sale of old weapons: "For those that date back to before 1900, it's allowed, after 1900, it's forbidden."
A neutralization system (the mechanism and the parts are welded) carried out by the Saint-Etienne national weapons test bench makes it possible to sell arms after 1900, but this condition has just been completed, in August, by & # 39; obligation for the holder of a specific authorization (to be obtained in prefecture). "In practical terms, the old XX firearms marketis the century will collapse, the process becomes too complex " he predicts Nicolas Dugoujon.