Internet Necromancy in the Name of History


They say things posted online never go away, but that’s not entirely true. I worked for Manion’s International Auction House in the catalog research and writing department between 1998 and 2006. For over three decades the company was a world leader in historical militaria and general collectibles. The final collapse of the company in early 2014 continues to resonate across the historical militaria collecting community.
The final fifteen years of the company’s existence were during the burgeoning Internet age. Classic Tuesday evening auction closes involving staff manning telephones and taking bids from Internet-averse old-timers lasted until the May 3, 2003 F4 tornado very nearly blew the company off the proverbial map. From that point forward the Internet was emphasized. All items were listed in catalogs on the company’s website, each lot with a written description and average of five or ten photos. Print catalog runs were drastically reduced.
Mussolini’s “Moschettieri” helmet and Fez
The company’s servers crashed beyond recovery in January 2014, and the company dissolved that spring. Now all that marvelous information seems lost. Not even archive.org can help. It is true Manion’s published realized price guides through the years, but that practice declined sharply in the Internet age, with prices often being relegated to the back pages of an ever-shrinking catalog print run. Quel dommage.
Berlin 1936 Olympics Silver Medal
While those old realized prices would be of limited use to appraisers today, the amount of history the company handled through the years is staggering, and it pains me to think some of it may have been lost forever.
While I cannot bring back every single piece available from Manion’s during that transitional time, I can at least offer a few consolation prizes. Sometime around 2001 I started compiling the more notable artifacts I researched by utilizing the “Print Screen” function and pasting it into a Word document. I then printed out each gigantic file, one page at a time, put each page in a Mylar sleeve, and into a three ring binder. Yes, I have binders full of interesting historical artifacts.
Saddam Hussein’s “Mushir” Shoulder Board
So, the next project for American Chimera is to wax nostalgic, play electronic archeologist and pull various artifacts from my three-ring binder abyss and present them here with much of each original description as is reasonable. Photo quality will vary as sometimes I had access to a decent color printer, sometimes not. It was the early 2000’s, after all. I trust, dear reader, you will understand. Standby…

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