January 12 at Le Mans, 14 at Puy-en-Velay, 22 at Lyon, 24 at Laval … Sales of old military objects, called "militaria", are legion at the beginning of the year. "I prefer to talk about sales of historical souvenirs, says Nicolas Dugoujon, expert of the sale of Lyon. The militaria has long been the poor relation of the art market, but, unlike many other universes, it has not declined, and recruits even new amateurs, historical memories precisely. "
This market segment includes weapons of course, but also decorations, elements of uniforms, swords, documents … Collectors are interested in the entire military past. With one constant: each nationality focuses primarily on its own history. An exception, however: the First French Empire. "It's virtually the only international market with collectors around the world. The last sword of the imperial guard I made the expertise was acquired by a South American, says Nicolas Dugoujon.
A renewed interest thanks to video games
On the side of French amateurs, the XXe century is in the spotlight. With newcomers, who are interested in military objects through magazines, TV shows, but also video games! " Medal of Honor or Call of Duty show weapons very well made and faithful to the spirit of origin. They also call on experts … And suddenly, these games sometimes arouse vocations ", fun Nicolas Dugoujon.
Some objects are selling a few tens of euros, like a bowl that is found at less than 20 euros.
Among the most sought-after objects, the memories of the elite troops, like the equipment of American paratroopers of the D-Day, those of the "Aces" of the aviation (this title being obtained after five victories in aerial combat), or still all that relates to the Resistance and the Liberation, including the crosses of the order of the Liberation. The memories of the First World War have, for their part, experienced renewed interest due to recent commemorations.
The budgets committed to embark on a military collection are extremely diverse. "The same collectors are both looking for objects of price and objects more common for the same period. Everything is sold in this area, insists Philippe Casal, auctioneer at Puy-en-Velay. Some objects are selling a few tens of euros, like a bowl that is found at less than 20 euros. But it takes between 150 and 200 euros for a cap of general of the 1970s, between 500 and 600 euros for a sword of the First Empire (15,000 to 20,000 euros if it comes from the Imperial Guard), or 800 to 1 000 euros for a flintlock rifle of the First Empire, model 1777 modified year IX.
On the other hand, it is more difficult to give a rating for XX military firearmse century. Some old weapons have been used during terrorist attacks in France, the law has recently hardened. Nicolas Dugoujon summarizes this complex legislation concerning the sale of old weapons: "For those dating back to before 1900, it's allowed; after 1900, it's forbidden. "
A system of neutralization (the mechanism and the parts are welded) carried out by the national test bench of weapons of Saint-Etienne nevertheless makes it possible to sell weapons after 1900, but this condition has just been supplemented, in August, by the obligation for the holder of a specific authorization (to be obtained in prefecture). "In practical terms, the old firearms market of the XXe century will collapse, the process becomes too complex, " predicts Nicolas Dugoujon.