The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating 110 years of service this year. Through its history more than 114 million young men have been Scouts and more than 33 million adults have volunteered as their leaders. This rich history has made for lots of badges, handbooks, uniforms and scouting equipment. Some of those youngsters who were strongly influenced by their scouting experience are now collectors of that memorabilia.
Two major factors influence how much some of these items are coveted. The first is condition, and this very often contributes to the desirability of most collectibles. Scouting encourages the outdoor life, so not many of those millions of youngsters who have participated would have kept their belongings in pristine condition. Even so if a rare item is found in all-but-new condition the price is going to be significant. All scouting collectibles will have the official Boy Scout or one of its sanctioned organization markings.
The second factor to play a role in the pricing of scouting nostalgia is the rarity of an item. For example, no matter how old the Jamboree awards, tokens, scouting handbooks or uniform might be, one would have to consider the number of scouts who attended those Jamborees, owned those handbooks or wore those uniforms. If the number were high, then that would mean there could be an extensive supply of those items available for the collectible market and the prices would be weak.
Of the Boy Scout camping equipment, two items that are highly coveted are the pocketknives and axes or hatchets. Both of these items would fall into the crossover market for those who just collect knives or just hatchets. Hence you have collectors from two different categories looking for one item, sometimes driving the price upwards. Still most knives and axes would fall into the less than $100 category, even if not much less.
Though there are many items offered on eBay, it seems various patches are demanding the highest prices. Some asking prices for these precious scraps of cloth are up into the thousands of dollars territory. This is where it would pay to do some homework if one finds an old uniform with lots of patches. There could be a treasure – like the patch from the 1964 JFK Camporee that is priced at $8,000 on eBay. There are no bidders as of the time of writing this column, but the pricing is interesting.
So, my advice to you is to never pass up a yard sale, especially ones that have Scout items on display. Also, look for patches made from felt and are in good condition. Many years ago patches were made from felt and deteriorated quickly when washed. Simple math tells me that not to many survived.
Take some boys camping and let Earth,Wind, Fire, and Water forge them a more moral compass