Could you be sitting on a World War 1 windfall?

Imagine it’s 1914. There’s no email, there’s no radio or 24 hour news channels, or even hourly news bulletins. In fact there was no TV. Newspapers and telegrams were the only way that people at home could learn about their loved ones who were being sent away to fight for King and Country.


100 years on and daily life has changed beyond recognition. We can’t even begin to imagine what it was like. The world is a much smaller place with overseas travel being something that many people do every year. Families live on different sides of the world, not different sides of the town.

There are few people alive today that lived through WW1, experiencing the event that changed the landscape of Europe forever, but there are lethal relics still being uncovered in the battlefields and valuable relics of the time still lingering in attics and record boxes across the country. These are our only keys to the past and their value as such is being increasingly recognised.

With the impending centenary of World War 1 the value of World War 1 memorabilia is being pushed up with some younger generations collecting memorabilia as a form of pension according to Lindsey Lee from Insurance Brokers H.W.Wood Ltd. Based on estimations from other recent military anniversaries It is expected that the value of most World War 1 memorabilia will increase by between 20 and 50%.

London auctioneers Bonhams are holding a WW1 memorabilia auction in October and the catalogue already boasts some unexpectedly valuable items. A group of medals awarded to Brigadier General GPS Hunt have an estimated price of between £3,000 and £5,000. A memorial plaque given to Minnie Johnson, of the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, will be up for grabs with an estimated price £1 800 - £2 200.

World War 1 memorabilia can be difficult to value. Items that look very similar may prove vastly different in value depending on their insignia and historical origin.

So if you or a grandparent has World War 1 memorabilia lurking, how can you protect it to ensure that you are insured in the event that disaster strikes?

1)Get it valued

Auction rooms across the UK will be able to value any World War 1 artifacts for you. For a full list of auction rooms you can check out the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers.

2) Check your insurance policy

Some policies will cover these as part of your home insurance but some won’t and you may need specialist insurance cover. Make sure that any collections you have cover your memorabilia for the full value.

Many insurance policies will consider a collection of medals as a single item, therefore they fall subject to the value limit for a single item which is usually between £1,000 and £3,000. This can mean that a collection can quite quickly exceed the single value amount, the result being that the value of the collection is not covered.

3)Get photographs of your memorabilia and store them (ideally with the valuation certificate) away from the collection.

If your collection is stored at home then keep them in a self storage locker or a bank deposit box to keep them safe. This way, in the event something should happen to your collection you will still have the proof of the collection that the insurance company will require in order to pay out any compensation.

Space Station self storage can provide secure storage lockers perfect for documents, photograph storage and small collections and storage rooms where you can safely keep your collections.

Photo by Christopher Hawkins