Randy Scott: Military memorabilia collector

Written by David Green.


Randy Scott needed something new to collect.

He had collected and restored gas pumps for a number of years, but eventually quit because they were too hard to find.

randyscott He then restored a Honda racing motorcycle, which led to an entirely new collection. A man who considered purchasing the bike referred Randy to dealers from the Netherlands who bought mostly Japanese motorcycles and sold them on the European market. Randy then began collecting motorcycles and selling them to the Dutch dealers.

“There used to be really good money in it,” said Randy.

But when the Netherlands’ economy took a hit, Randy decided it was time to get out of the business.

“I wanted to sell my collection, but I wanted to collect something,” Randy said.

That “something” became an extensive military collection five years in the making.

Flags, photographs, swords, canteens, boots, bullet shells and helmets are just a few of the many items occupying a bedroom at Scott’s home in Fayette, but the room doesn’t hold the entire collection.

“I’ve got stuff scattered all over the place,” Randy admitted. “If I die, I don’t know what my family will do. They’ll probably find stuff for years.”

Randy’s collection comes from a number of sources, such as military shows, garage sales and flea markets. Even his job  provides him with the opportunity to scavenge for collectibles.

He works for a company that receives large shipments of miscellaneous brass items they recycle by melting the pieces in furnaces. Randy has uncovered a number of military shell casings in these shipments, including one about a foot tall from the Spanish American War.

Randy also places ads in several local newspapers advertising his interest in military items.

“People will call and say they’re throwing something or other away,” Randy said, adding that it’s amazing what people throw out.

He has also recovered rare finds put out for the trash, like the Civil War era boots he found at a shoe shop that intended to throw the boots out with the garbage.

When a particular collectible is extremely rare or expensive, Randy finds or makes replicas for his collection, such as an impressive bearjaw-handled knife he copied from an original, and a 1940s flight jacket a man from Toledo made for him.

And Randy Scott doesn’t just keep his collection on shelves and hooks. He owns a Willys Jeep that he drives to military shows while dressed in uniform.

“When I drive my jeep I want to look the part, so I always wear the stuff to go with it,” Randy said.

   - Jan. 21, 2004

Randy likes the unusual 

Money can’t buy love and it can’t necessarily buy interesting collectibles, either. In addition to his more traditional pieces, Randy Scott has an appreciation for unique military collectibles that aren’t necessarily valuable.

“I like unusual things you don’t see every day,” Randy said.

Perhaps most fascinating is Randy’s collection of trench art—an art form that began during World War I in periods of inactivity. Soldiers would create art from found objects such as shells and bullets.

Randy explained that although the objects are called trench art, the pieces weren’t necessarily created in the trenches.

“It could’ve been a mechanic or somebody else who was bored,” he said.

According to Randy, vases and ashtrays were very typical pieces of trench art, and he has examples of both, along with other items, including a matchbox and belt buckle. Most impressive in Randy’s collection is an ashtray that features a P-38 airplane made from 30 and 45 caliber bullets suspended over the tray.

Randy also has matchbooks that add a humorous element to the unusual items in his collection. The matches are from World War II and were given to soldiers when they received their liberty card to leave the base. Their purpose was to remind soldiers of the danger of venereal disease.

One of the matchbooks reads, “Even Snafu knows...V.D. can be prevented.”

Randy mentioned he originally had several matchbooks, but took them to a military show where they sold rapidly.

Randy also has silverware from World War II, but they’re not your average utensils. At the base of the fork and knife is a swastika with the initials “A.H.” for Adolf Hitler. Randy told how American troops found the Nazi silverware at Hitler’s residence and divvied up the utensils amongst themselves. 

“I like when there’s a history behind an item,” he said.

And sometimes the history of Randy’s unique pieces hits very close to home.

For example, Randy has the reunion ribbons from a Civil War veteran from Wauseon and a Civil War era bible originally from Fayette.

Regardless of whether the items are of local interest or not, Randy keeps records of the origins and histories of his pieces.

“If you don’t have the history,” he said, “it’s just another piece.”


  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016