Frequently Asked Questions 

LOGIN & REGISTRATION QUESTIONS

Login / Register / Password Problems
                                 Don't worry! Any problems encountered here are usually easily solved. We created a special page just for
these questions. CLICK HERE to open that up.
Why do I have to register, get a password, and jump through those hoops?
Well, you do not have to if you do not want to. Just click "browse as guest", agree to the
terms of sale, and you can see everything on the AGM catalog. However, you will not be able
to take advantage of any of the website features.
Is there any benefit to browsing the catalog as a registered user?
Yes! As a logged-in registered user, you can place orders through the website which reserve
items instantly for you, rather than waiting for us to reserve them on your behalf and possibly
loosing them to someone else in the meantime. You can also view your invoice, make payment,
track your order status, download item records for your purchases, etc. Also, if you wish to
be a part of AGM Insider, you will need to be a registered user.
   

ORDERING QUESTIONS

What is the fastest way to order? I don't want to miss the item that I want!
The absolute fastest and best way to order is to login, and use the online ordering system. The
second you confirm your intention to purchase the item and press "buy now", the item is marked
SOLD online, and is reserved exclusively for you. We still accept phone orders, and if you do
not want to login online, you will need to call in your order. 1-800-233-1918 or 573-243-1833.
Can I send my order by FAX?
Not anymore. We no longer have a FAX line. It is outdated technology... and to be quite candid
I hauled our last FAX machine out behind the building, shot it full of holes with a .45 automatic,
then tossed it's worthless carcass on the burn pile. We spent $100 on that machine, and never
could get it to send or receive a fax. Got $100 worth of stress relief out of it in the end, though!
Due to unforseen circumstances, I only want part of my order - can I put the other items back?
This is unfortunately where we have to be complete jerks. (No.) We have given our customers
the ability to reserve items live and in real time on the catalog. The items are instantly marked
"sold", and after a few hours, they disappear. In exchange for yielding that control, we ask that
they only reserve items when their intent to purchase is sincere.

75-80% of our sales are on the first day of a new catalog. If we allow customers to develop the
habit of reserving items on Day 1, then 'putting back' a portion of their purchases on Day 2, 3, 4,
etc., the catalogs will collapse and that will be the end of AGM. We really need to prevent that!

We cannot actually force anyone to complete a purchase. However, we can discourage this by
maintaining universal enforcement of this (unfortunately rather draconian) policy: If a customer
decides not to follow through on the purchase of part of his order, the entire order is
returned to stock, and that customer's ability to place online orders is restricted.
Yes,
we can flip a switch and prevent specific individual customers from placing online orders.
(Muahhaahahaha!)

This of course does not apply when we have erred. If we stated in the description that an item
is dated 1943 and it is actually 1948, then YES, of course we will be glad to remove that from
your invoice.
I placed my order, but haven't received an invoice yet.
Sorry about that! This is part of our operation that is still rather clunky, as it depends on us to
be here in the office, making invoices, calculating postage, updating the website, etc. On Day 1
of a new catalog, we open at 3:00 pm and it can often take until 10 or 11pm to get everything
ready and send out the first big batch of invoices. On subsequent days the traffic is lighter, and
we will get 2 or sometimes 3 updates done in a day. After that, we are normally busy wrapping
packages, and we typically update once per day. Check the news article on the home page that
announces the most recent invoice update time and date. If your order was placed after that,
your invoice will arrive as soon as we get the next website update done.
I sent you an email that says "I'm interested in item A100." Why is that not yet reserved for me?
Because we have learned that "I'm interested in" and "I wish to purchase" are two entirely different
things. We typically do not reserve items based on unspecific inquiries. Best way to ensure that
the item is yours - register if you have not already done so, login, and buy it on the website.
Can you hold an item for me while I think about it?
No. We used to do this when we had control of the ordering system, but that control is now in the
hands of the customers. The first person to press the button buys the item.
What is your best price on item A999?  
  We are in fact well-known for offering some pretty substantial discounts: selling good items at or below (sometimes very much below) our original cost on special sale catalogs.  As for our regular catalogs, the price you see is the best available price.  If an item hangs around for ages and fails to sell on the catalog, at shows, etc., then and only then is it time for discounts.  When we are going to have a big special sale, trust me - we'll let you know.  Until then, the retail price is not negotiable.  I know you have heard it before, but it is true: there are a lot of expenses involved in producing these catalogs.  Besides the thousands of miles that we travel every year, the specialists that we hire to evaluate and describe items, and a small fortune in other expenses that quickly add up, we also pay very good prices for quality items so you have a great selection to choose from.  (Please keep that in mind when you decide to sell your collection!)  We try to price our items as competitively as possible to make quick sales and keep you all excited about doing business with AGM, but at the same time including enough profit to sustain our operations.

For some reason, the floodgates have recently opened, releasing a flood of requests for discounted pricing and more than a few (frankly rather insulting) offers on good items that are priced fairly to begin with.  If you like the item but want to get it at 50% off.. fine.  That might actually happen, but you will have to wait for one of our clearance sales, and take the chance that someone else will snap it up in the meantime.  Please don't waste our time with hour-long phone calls to tell us all about how what we have is not up to your standards, but you will do us a favor and take it off our hands for a fraction of the asking price.  This negotiating 'tactic' may work well in some cultures.  Upland Southern hillbilly is not one of them.
   
I want to place an order, but I am not from the USA.  Do you sometimes sell internationally? 
  Absolutely!  Not a problem.  In fact, approximately 60% of our sales are to customers outside the United States.  We value all of our customers, and will make every effort to ensure that it is just as easy for you to order from us as it would be if you lived right next door. 

Please be aware of your local laws and postal restrictions.  Normally the only transactions that cannot be done are international orders for firearms and inert munitions, but there are sometimes a few unusual restrictions that must be observed as well, such as maximum package length and width for some countries.  Items that exceed these postal size or weight limitations can still be dispatched, but they would have to travel via another carrier, and often that can be expensive.
   

PAYMENT QUESTIONS

What forms of payment do you all take?
All major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover), PayPal, personal checks
drawn on US banks, and money orders.  We accept cash (US Dollars, Euros, or British Pounds)
if that is the customer's preference.  We also accept wire transfers for international transactions
over $1000 USD.  We do not take Western Union wire transfers.
Do you charge a fee for PayPal or Credit Card payments? 
  No, we do not.  Doing that violates the user agreement and can result in big problems.  Any seller
who charges you extra for accepting these forms of payment does so at the peril of loosing his
ability to use those services.
   
I was attempting to pay for my order online, and got an ERROR message.  Your site is broken!   
  99 times out of 100, when this happens, it is an input issue with the credit card.  Some people will naturally break up the number into groups, as it is displayed to be easier to read on the face of their card.  What the site uses is the number all run together in one string, like "4567123498766789", for example.  What they input is "4567 1234 9876 6789", or "4567-1234-9876-6789".  Result?  Error.  That one is pretty easy to explain on our end, and to recognize on their end.  The errors that really become sneaky and hard to find is when someone is accidentally including another stray character at the beginning or end of the numbers (usually a the little ` sign next to the number 1, or a space.  These sneaky characters are hard to notice, and to the user who is prone to do this, unless they study their number entry closely, they just can't figure out what they are doing wrong.  So naturally, some will assume that our site, which works fine for everyone else - is BROKEN, just for them.

In a way they are right, though.  I would love to make payments more bullet-proof; to have the site force the number to be entered correctly as some sites do, via limiting the number of characters, or automatically breaking the number into groups for the user to be easier able to see.. but payments are run through PayPal, and so we are limited to what they have designed for their website plug-in.  
 
Does waiting for a check to clear delay my shipment? 
  It used to, but not anymore.  Checks clear pretty fast these days.  And.. to be honest, after a
catalog opening we are normally so swamped with credit card and PayPal payments from the first
batch of orders, that we will not be getting around to mailed payments until they have had
sufficient time to clear, anyway.  It is not a problem - checks are quite welcome! 
   
How do we go about arranging a trade deal?  I want to buy something, but I would rather trade than pay.
  Let's not.   To be perfectly frank, I absolutely despise trade deals.  When someone says "I want
to trade
", what I hear is "I want to pawn off some junk that I no longer need or want in exchange
for a good item that you could just as easily sell for cash to someone else
."  We have had a few
good trades in the past, but 99% of them really are just a proposal to offload somebody's
burdensome cripples and sickly orphans in exchange for better items.  Hooray!  Sign me up for that!  Or not.  (No offense intended toward actual living cripples and orphans.)

Yes, we need more stuff.  We're always buying stuff.  However - and call me crazy here - I like to choose what we buy myself.  I am pretty good at spending every last dollar that we take in on collections and other cool stuff that I hunt down on our buying trips. Whenever we have been roped into one of these trade carnivals before, I always end up in a situation where I am forced to waste time and energy evaluating and
negotiating over items that I frankly would not even stop to look at if I saw them on somebody's table at a
show.  I am just sooooo not interested in playing this schoolyard game.

Now, that being said, if your intent is to trade me a pile of original German WWI field gray uniforms in exchange for the 1980's woodland camo BDU's that we have consigned to the workshop rag bin, then sure!  Let's make that happen RIGHT NOW!  Anything less rediculously one-sided, though; fuhgeddaboudit - not interested.  Not even a little bit.
   
Just bring that to the militaria show - I'll pay you there in cash. 
  Ahhh, cash.  Yes, you are singing my song.  However, we do not make show deliveries.
Why?
1) There have been some shenanigans in the past that turned me very sour on this idea.  Not going
to go into specifics, as some rather good friends would recognize themselves as central characters
cast in an unflattering light, and I do not wish to embarrass them.

2) Frankly it is also really inconvenient.  Normally packing for a major show here is a last-minute goat
roping exercise, and the very last thing I need or want is more stuff on the list of items that I must
remember to bring along.  I'm always forgetting something, and I would rather that be something that
I needed and not an item that you were counting on.  If anyone is going to suffer from my failings, it
needs to be me - not you.

3) It seems so reasonable to say "just bring my one little item to the show", but multiply that out
across 30 or 40 people, and suddenly our truck is half full of deliveries.  We're normally quite tight on space already - both in the truck and under the table - so compounding that unnecessarily is not welcomed.
   
Can I put that on lay-away? 
  For customers in good standing (and that is fortunately 99.99% of you), lay-away is no problem.  We're collectors also, and know that usually when you have $$, there is nothing to buy.  When you have spent all of your $$, everything you ever wanted suddenly shows up!

Our lay-away plan is simple and free.  30% deposit; balance paid off within 30 days of the order date.  When circumstances warrant special arrangements, we will work with you on alternative time limits.  There are just a few rules for lay-away:

* Minimum order for lay-away is $100
* Customers are limited to one active lay-away at a time.  Your first lay-away invoice must be paid in full before you can start a new one.
* The deposit is due in the normal 10-day payment window.  Simply not paying for an item until 30 days have passed is not a lay-away.. it is a delinquent order.
* All lay-aways must be settled in no more than 3 payments.  Deposit, middle payment (if necessary), and balance.  Just too much of a hassle to keep track of 18 dozen bi-weekly $35 payments on a $1000+ order.
* Lay-aways carry no return or exchange privilege.  This does not of course apply to returns for reason of authenticitiy.  Items are always guaranteed to be original and correctly identified.
* Delinquent accounts are subject to forfeit of payments made.  Yes, we have had to pull the trigger on this more than once. 
   

SHIPPING QUESTIONS

My International shipment should have been here by now, and tracking shows little info.  Can we trace it?
  Don't worry - all is most likely perfectly fine.  However, as this comes up at least twice per catalog, we have done a fair amount of research into the issues involved in order to better answer your question(s).  For the complete story, click here
   
Has my order shipped?  What is the status of my order? 
  We have (finally!) arranged to display your order status and tracking information on your USER CP page.  Just log in, click "USER CP", then "View Status & Tracking".  From there, choose the appropriate invoice, and you now have access to the latest up-to-date information on your order status. 
   
&#%$ Ridiculous!  All I ordered was an insignia.  It should take no more than 6 minutes to ship, even for you morons.
What's the hold-up!?!?
  Well, the hold-up is the hundred or so people in line ahead of you who probably ordered things much more complicated than your insignia. Have you ever gone to the post office just to buy a stamp but you got stuck waiting in line for 20 minutes behind someone who was trying to mail a live baby goat to Afghanistan? Try to draw on that sense of camaraderie that develops among the rest of the folks held up in line, as they exchange knowing glances and shrugs while sighing loudly and staring daggers at the person being served. If they guy in line ahead of you ordered an oil painting, six steins, a Cavalry lance, and a supply wagon.. trust me, we're looking forward to getting back to the simple orders also!
   
I never have to wait this long when I order from other militaria dealers.
   Many good things have a small negative side-effect, and that is the case here. One of the key elements in our business is the opening day rush. It builds anticipation, encourages sales, and allows us to work in batches, rather than item-by-item. However, it also means that a very small business gets a very large batch of orders all at once. Most dealers with a website typically have updates that feature a few dozen new items at the most. If you order from them, then yes - they should certainly have no problem getting an order shipped out the very next day. Even if every single thing on their update sold, that would only be a day or two of shipping. In our case, we are looking at 250-300 orders, typically involving 500+ items.

Saying "you are not our only customer" sounds like we don't value you, which is absolutely not the case. We value all of our customers! However, after a new catalog opens, we have a lot of them to value.. not exactly a fair comparison to other dealers who may have sold 12 whole items to 6 different people.
They can love you quickly. We love you long time.
   
I never have to wait this long when I order from Amazon, or other online retailers.
  Please bear in mind that though these organizations receive thousands of orders per day, they also have thousands of employees at distribution centers all over the globe just waiting to process your order as soon as it pops in. AGM is not quite that big yet (we can only dare to dream..)
   
So why don't you just hire more people so packages would go out quicker?
  I would love to! However, finding good folks for wrapping up fragile and expensive antiques is not as easy as you would think. In the past we have had some extra help for wrapping and shipping that was great, but unfortunately they have moved on to other employment. Just hiring anybody off the street to wrap packages may be an option for the factory selling rubber duckies and whoopie cushions, but spiked helmets and regimental steins require a level of care that even some trained museum professionals have not been able to deliver to our satisfaction. Frankly, there are sometimes packages that Anna won't even let me wrap!  
   
Why not put all of the easy orders at the front of the line to serve more customers faster?
  That does make a ton of sense, and we have tried versions of that, but we found that since new 'easy' orders are constantly coming in, the 'difficult' orders were just constantly being kicked back to the end of the line. To make sure that the people who had complex orders got their stuff in a timely manner as well, our wrapping folks simply take the invoices in the order that they arrive.
   

AFTER THE SALE QUESTIONS

What more can you tell me about that item?  Who did you get it from?  Where did they get it?
  99.999% of the time, if there is any useful information available to us, it is in the item description.  Yes, we thoroughly understand the concept of provenance.  As for our sources.. well, they're our sources, dude!  If we have purchased a large and important collection, and they are willing to let us use their name, it is likely in the description.  In some cases, the individual who sold his collection does not wish to be bothered.  We respect their privacy, and do not pass along any contact information unless they have specifically authorized us to do so.   
   
I will pay you double if you will tell the first customer that there was an 'error' and sell it to me instead.
  Excuse me?  Actually, we are approached with different versions of this proposal on a fairly regular basis.  The answer is always "No."  Well, that's not completely accurate.  Actually, the answer is "Hell NO!"  Guys, there is no amount of $$ you can wave at us which will make us even consider betraying one of our customers.  Sorry you missed it, but geez.. try to hang on to your dignity.   
   
Can you send me the description and photos of the item that I purchased?  
  We can do better than that.  Go to your USER CP page, and click "Download Item Records."  This is an item-by-item .pdf sales record of your purchases from the latest catalog with the complete description, date, and all of the photos.
   
Six months ago I purchased a Japanese helmet from you for $400, and now I see you have one that is nicer for $600.  Can I send you my helmet and $200 for the nicer one?
  Sorry, no.  We do not do trade-in's.  We (hopefully) buy at wholesale and sell at retail.  If you wish to sell a $400 Japanese helmet for $400, let me suggest getting a table at the Online Militaria Show.    
   

GENERAL QUESTIONS 

I'm going to be in your area next week.  How do I get to your shop?
  Go to www.advanceguardmilitaria.com.  You can see everything there.  We do not have a showroom, and are not open to the public.  It is something that I would like to do someday, but for the moment we do not have the space, time, or staff that would be required to properly accommodate visitors.
   
I have a sales website also.  Can we trade links?
  Sorry, no.  What!?  Why the hell not?  Well, I would love to, actually.  We have a number of friends who run great top-notch militaria businesses, and I would like nothing better than to have a page where we could direct our customers to other sellers that I know will treat them properly.  Unfortunately, we also have acquaintances who are pleasant enough in person but run really crappy militaria businesses.  These are are the folks who will smile, wave, and engage in happy chats at the shows, but frankly I would not trust them if they told me rain was wet.  More than a few have asked to have links on this site.  I wouldn't want our name listed on their site, and I'm certainly not going to point my customers in their direction!  Rather than explain why I will have links to some sites but not theirs, it seemed like the path of least resistance was to have no links at all.  However, we do make referrals, and I am constantly sending people to other friends who may have items that they seek. 
   
I have an item that I am unfamiliar with - can you tell me what it is?
  Possibly.  We will be glad to help if we can.  However, you would probably find it amusing to know how many phone calls we get that go something like this:

Caller: "Hi.  I've got this thing.  It's got a blade on one end and a handle on the other.  What's it worth?"
AGM: "Well, it sounds like a sword or a bayonet.  How long is it?"
Caller: "Oh, you know, it's about yay long, you know, sort if medium I guess.  I need to know a value."
AGM: "I understand.  We would need to know what we are looking at.  Can you email some photos?"
Caller: "Can't you just help me over the phone?  I'll explain again.  It's sharp, and about yay long."
AGM: "To help you, I would need to see some photos of the.."
Caller: "And like I said, it's brown on one end with some sort of symbol.  Haven't you seen that before?"
AGM: "Can't really say without seeing a photo.."
Caller: "I just want to know what it is and what it's worth.  Why won't you tell me?"
AGM: "Well, if I could see a photograph, I might be able to figure out what you have."
Caller: "I've been telling you what I have, but you aren't listening.  Just tell me the value."
Caller: "My friend wants to buy it, and I need to know what to get for it."
AGM: "I will be very happy to help, but you will have to send photos first."
Caller: "I thought you guys were the big experts.  I guess you don't really know all that much."
AGM: "No sir, I suppose we really don't."
-click-

Bottom line, to even start to help on an item, we need photos.  Even if you tell me exactly what the item is, different people's perceptions of condition and the degree to which an item is complete are sometimes shockingly different.  I have purchased many things verbally described as "great condition" or "near mint" that we later put on our catalog as a II- or III (fair to poor).  The details have a huge impact on value, and often even proper identification.

I am very much a visually-oriented person.  Chances are, even if you know exactly what you have and can describe it perfectly, I will be of far more use to you if you can send me a photo or two.
   
 Hi!  I would like very much to have you come and appraise my item(s).  How do we get started?  
  Well, this probably isn't going to happen, but just for grins and giggles we should discuss it here because this truly is a VERY frequently asked question, to the tune of about 2-3 inquiries on any given day of the week.   There are several things that usually derail this idea:

First, most people don't truly understand what an actual appraisal involves.  An appraisal is a formal report, generated as the result of skilled research by a professional.  I know, I know.. every antique dealer since the British Empire carted away half the dusty knick-knacks of the ancient world has put "appraisals" on his business card, but is that person really a professional appraiser?  99.9 times out of 100, no.  He is NOT.  He (or she) is an antique dealer who simply wants to buy your items.  Which, coincidentally, is also what I happen to be.

If my goal is to buy your stuff (and if it is worth appraising, then yes - I very likely do want to buy it), I cannot appraise it due to the ethical conflict which this presents.  I can make you a fair, honest offer, and will - but that is not an appraisal.   Any militaria dealer that proposes to appraise and buy your collection either doesn't understand this concept, or understands it perfectly and is hoping that you do not.  

So, if your items are going to be for sale, let's have that conversation first.  You can read more about selling items to Advance Guard Militaria here.

You're back already?  Damn, that's a pity.  I really had hoped to buy your collection.  Maybe later.  Ok - let's get on with why you are likely not as desirous of an appraisal as you may have thought you were 15 minutes ago.  

An honest-to-goodness collection appraisal is not an inexpensive project.  To secure the services of a professional appraiser, think of it this way - what would you expect to pay a competent, successful attorney for a day or two.. or three of their time?  Exactly.  Now you get the idea.

This of course is no problem whatsoever when dealing with your friendly local (not-really-an-appraiser) appraiser who will cheerfully accept whatever nominal amount you can agree upon for the 'service' of pulling a number out of whatever dark and humid receptacle they elect to use for number storage.  Along those same lines, you could also save a lot of money by hiring the local butcher's assistant and maybe a finish carpenter to do your next knee replacement surgery.

Another seemingly happy but in my opinion even more problematic conflict of interest is the friend who just wants to "help".  To be useful, an appraisal needs to be reasonably accurate.  To be accurate, it must be honest, impartial, free from personal agendas, and reflective of the current market for the material being examined.  Dealers with their inherent conflicts of interest aside, even other advanced collectors of the same material may not be particularly well-informed as to current market conditions.  Collectors are often purposefully (or even more often subconsciously) in denial of current circumstances.  They can be low if they are hoping to acquire a few of the pieces being appraised, high if they paid aggressively for their own collections, or acquired most of it during a market peak, etc.  

True friends are wonderful treasures, but in this business I routinely am confronted by situations where in an honest attempt to be helpful, a friend has rendered an 'appraisal' that was motivated by genuine, but less than helpful, altruism.  You know, "I'll protect you from the evil vultures!"  This usually starts out with the honest intent to deliver reasonably accurate information, but is easily blown off course by the natural, human desire to make the owner of the collection happy, especially if they have inherited it due to the loss of a loved one.  Nothing feels better than to tell someone "congratulations, ma'am - this room full of old wool coats is worth a fortune!"  Until she tries to sell it, and begins the frustrating process of learning that the only people who felt it was worth a fortune were the ones who either had no idea what they were talking about, or were just auditioning for the role of knight in shining armor.  Such appraisals really are at best a misplaced kindness, and at worst, the catalyst for a lot of frustration, disappointment, and wasted time.

So, let's get back to helping you out with your original question.  Here's the deal:
  • If the collection is for sale, I would be happy to discuss a purchase.  Let's not forget about that!
  • If the collection will not be for sale, and you are not in a huge hurry to have the appraisal done (I am a busy guy with few openings in my ridiculously overstuffed schedule) let's talk.  If I am the right appraiser for the type of material you have, and you are willing to pay my admittedly confiscatory fees to purchase the resource I have least of (time), I'll be happy to discuss your appraisal. 
  • If your intention is to sell, but you need an appraisal first, OR you simply aren't willing to wait around while your project works it's way to the top of my 'to-do' list, I have a more than a few friends who do this professionally that I will be very happy to recommend.

 
   
What militaria shows do you recommend?  
  Here is where I will go out on a limb and publish a few links.  Just because I did not list a show here does not mean that it is not a good one - there are some very good shows in the US that we do not attend due to scheduling conflicts, etc.

In my opinion, here are the top 3. 
These are worthy of your time and travel, regardless of where you call home:

* The OVMS Show of Shows.  Louisville, KY.  www.sosovms.com  This is the international event of the year, and not to be missed for any reason.  I have actually skipped family funerals to be at this show.  (Isn't that what freezers are for, anyway?  I'm just sayin'.) 
The MAX Show.  Monroeville PA.  www.themaxshow.com
True, it is not the giant event that it was in years past, but the truth of the matter is that it is still quite a good show and well-worth attending.
* West Coast Historical Militaria Collectors Show.  Pomona, CA.  www.militariashow.com
Smallest of the three, but steadily growing.  I absolutely love this one.  We routinely find amazing stuff at this show.

Beyond that, we always make every possible effort to attend these important regional shows:
* TMCA - Tennessee Military Collectors Association.  Franklin, TN. www.tmcaonline.org
Every Easter and Thanksgiving weekend.  
* Minnesota Military Collectors Show.  St. Paul, MN.  www.battlefieldstore.com  
 
And.. if you happen to be in the neighborhood:
* OVMS - the small 'regular' OVMS shows.  Wilmington, OH.  www.sosovms.com