What is this military stuff that I found?

Okay, here’s the situation:

You’re cleaning out your late parent’s home and discover your dad’s, great aunt’s or grandfather’s military memorabilia.  Or, maybe you just started to deal with boxes you inherited years ago.  

  • There are probably a few items you want to keep but what about the other stuff?

  • How do you know whether something is important or valuable if you have no idea what it is?

  • It would be a shame to throw it out but who would want it?

Get Advice

Send us an e-mail with a description and photos of the items or, better yet, schedule a time to come to the Museum with the items.  We can help identify what the items are, what they would have been used for, when they may have been used and anything unique about them.  We can also advise what museum may be interested them, if you want to donate the items, or advise you on some of your options to sell them.

You might be surprised to learn that this also applies to paperwork. 

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What may seem to you like a stack of recycling could be records of historical significance that a museum would value.  The documents could also provide provenance on the items you have.  In other words, they could be used to trace the items’ history (who owned it, when and where), which helps to confirm their authenticity and value.  Provenance can be hard to spot: it can be a photo of an item with the owner, a diary entry, a letter and, of course, official documentation like a sales slip or certificate.

Be careful opening old bottles and containers

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Let’s face it: that old bottle likely contains substances that are banned or restricted today due to their effects on human health and the environment.  

Be cautious opening old bottles and containers… or, better yet, don’t open them.  Send us a photo of the bottle or container and any labelling, and we may be able to help you identify what is in it.  

Always dispose of these items safely - bring them to your city’s hazardous waste disposal.  The City of Winnipeg’s Water and Waste Department has information of where can you properly dispose of household hazardous waste products.

What about small arms or explosives?

Contact your local police force to determine what to do if you find small arms (rifles, pistols, etc.) or explosives.  The bottom line is that you should never assume that a weapon is unloaded, no matter how old it is, and never touch or move explosives (bombs, shells, grenades, mines, etc.) as they may still pose a risk of detonation.  

The police have experts on staff or have access to experts who can deal safely with any weapons and explosives, and render them safe.