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Trash or Treasure: D-Day invasion map rare, original and valuable

“My father was a combat-wounded veteran in World War II,” Mark Iwanski explained to DuMouchelle appraiser James Flannery at a recent appraisal session held downtown at the auction house. He spend the war working as a courier, Iwanski explained, adding that he almost lost his leg during his service.  Like many vets, he added, he kept his wartime memories to himself. “He never talked about it growing up,” Iwanski said.  

He kept a few reminders, however. “He had a box with medals in a drawer and as a kid I’d sneak in and play with them,” Iwanski remembers. “His grandson was interested in the medals and he eventually gave them to him.” But that wasn’t all he kept. “We found this folded up in the bottom of a box of papers when he died,” Iwanski explained. “We took it out and we were amazed at the shape it’s in.”

“This” is a map of the D-Day invasion that Iwanski’s father brought back from Europe when he was discharged in 1945. “It has a tremendous amount of detail, with the corners torn off,” he explained to Flannery as the appraiser took a closer look. “It’s marked top secret and BIGOT, for Brit In German Occupied Territory,” he added. There are marks in red and large sections blacked out.

Flannery said that Iwanski’s map is a guide to the air campaign invasion of Normandy. “There are a lot of reproductions out there,” he said. “Yours looks authentic.” One of the most important turning points in the war, “the D-Day operation of June 6, 1944 brought together the land, air and sea forces of the allied armies in what became known as the largest invasion force in human history,” explains for those who need a history refresher. “The operation, given the codename OVERLORD, delivered five naval assault divisions to the beaches of Normandy, France”

One of the things that helped Flannery determine its authenticity is that Iwanski’s map includes a number of details not visible on the many copies. “I found a lot of similar ones online but yours has some marks that are not on the others,” he explained.

Flannery said that World War II is a popular collecting category and that Iwanski’s piece would definitely have interested buyers. Other top-secret papers have brought $1,000 to $3,000 depending on condition and rarity and he’d put Iwanski’s piece in that category. “There seem to be a lot of reproductions out there but yours is a rather unique piece,” Flannery told Iwanski. “I’d expect to it bring $1,000 to $2,000 at auction, maybe more.”

Iwanski was happy to know more but isn’t interested in parting with the rare artifact. “I wouldn’t sell it but I would loan it or donate it to a museum if it would be displayed,” he added.

About this item

Item: Map

Owned by: Mark Iwanski

Appraised by:   James Flannery, DuMouchelles

Estimated value: $$1,000 to $2,000 and up at auction