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Collector show displays war artifacts, weapons dating back to 1500s

SALISBURY — War, what is it good for?

Well, it sure comes in handy for teaching history.

History buffs on Saturday could learn about, buy, sell and trade historical guns, swords, bayonets, currency, military insignia and even a vampire killing kit at the 28th Collector Gun and Military Show at the Event Center on Webb Road.

Originally just a Civil War-related show, the collector show has expanded to include items from World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. Some artifacts date as far back as the 1500s and the Victorian era.

For example, Nick Apergis, who represented Cedar Hill Arms Military Antiques in Matthews, displayed a vampire killing kit. He said that during the 19th century, it was common for people to be spooked by the idea of vampires among them. Some people, he said, went as far as digging up graves of the deceased to stab a stake through the heart and place a stone in the mouth to prevent the “vampires” from biting. The set he displayed included stakes, a dagger and a Swedish prayer book.

Additionally, next to the vampire killing set was an apothecary display of antique medications and a Victorian-era gambling kit.

Apergis added that many of these collections take time to build up, and that it’s no “Indiana Jones-like” mission of accruing the artifacts.

Some of artifacts have been obtained from the U.S. military, including what collector Ed Hicks said was a real ISIS flag from a specialized military mission and a helmet dating back to 1650.

Bob Axelrod, of Axe Antiques, Inc. in Charlotte, displayed an English Civil War set of armor that was used for knights fighting on horseback in the 1630s. He also exhibited a German beheading sword used during the 16th century as well as a sword that had a green-dyed ivory handle and was used by the first president, George Washington, and his senior officers.

Also on display from Adam Colet was a table napkin reportedly obtained from Adolf Hitler’s residence in the bottom of his basement. Most of the collectible items were from WWII, mostly due to the prevalence of WWII-related video games and movies, said Kyle Kirby.

Kirby has hosted the collector show for four years and works for Bull Moose Guns. Kirby, who displayed some of his own collector items, including the world’s first functional machine gun made in 1918 in Berlin, said the collector show is “the next best thing to having the actual person there.”

“It’s important to get young people involved,” Kirby said, “To pass on this love of history to take care of it and preserve it.”

Warren Morrison of Military Items Wanted echoed that sentiment and said he gave two boys a military insignia patch for free because of how happy they were after hearing about the history behind them.

Morrison said some patches in his collection are rare, including one that represented the Motor Transportation Service in the Transportation Corps, which was a unit that African-Americans fought in during segregation.

Some collectors have been at it for 70 years, such as 86-year-old Carl O’Connor, who specializes in collecting Japanese weapons from WWII.

North Carolina Gun Collectors Association president John Parker said events like the one on Saturday allow everyone, even senior collectors, to learn more about different eras of history. He added that it’s a “good way to bring people together.”

Another Collector Gun and Military show will be in Statesville on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28 at the Statesville Civic Center.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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