5 Tips to Help You Clean Through the Deceased Estate of a War Veteran
by Thomas Jones
If you have the job of cleaning through the deceased estate of a war veteran, it can be hard to determine which items are of value (historically or otherwise) and which are not. Here is a quick guide to determining which items might be useful.
Determine which regiment the veteran served in, and which wars or battles they participated in. Some battles have a particularly high value, due to their place in Australian culture. These include Gallipoli in the WWII the fall of Singapore in the WWII and the Battle of the Somme in WWI. If you can find some evidence that the veteran fought in one of these wars, then their artifacts will be worth more both historically and financially.
Locate any particular awards or medals they won, and any items of uniform or kits that still remain. Medals for gallantry such as the Victoria Cross have a higher value, so do medals for service in particular battles. If you can find uniforms, these can also be of value and many collectors have started showing interested in the handiwork and creations made by soldiers in the trenches.
See if you can find any correspondence home or to the soldier. While cameras were, strictly speaking, banned from the trenches many soldiers found ways to send home candid shots on life on the front. These have a great historical interest for museums and collectors. Letters to and from loved ones also present an interesting picture of life on the front, as do diaries from both the soldiers and families at home supporting the war effort. While these are often not of significant financial value, they can be very interesting to museums and can support the provenance of other items to boost their value.
Call an appraiser. A historical appraisal can let you understand the value of the items and inform your decision making process of whether to hold onto the items, donate (or lend) the items to an institution or keep them in the family.
Contact local museums and art galleries. Even if your items are not of great financial value, or particular historical value, it's worth contacting local museums and galleries to see if they are planning any special exhibitions. Some museums like to provide "behind the scenes" glances at an ordinary soldiers life and your items may be useful for this.
If you are struggling with cleaning through a deceased estate, a professional cleaning service such as Sydney's Cheapest Rubbish Removal can often be useful to help you maintain some distance and get through the process of making decisions about how best to preserve the memories of the deceased.
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