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'War Souvenirs' Produced in U.S. Selling Briskly

October 25, 1991|DAVID FREED

Iraqi war remembrances direct from the Persian Gulf may be hard to come by, but there is no shortage of the home-grown variety.

Officials of Springfield Armory in Geneseo, Ill., report doing a steady business in their commemorative, "Gulf Victory" .45-caliber pistols. Each is engraved in gold with tanks, a camel, Patriot missiles and a likeness of nighttime Baghdad being bombed.

Included with each gun (suggested retail price $799) are a "Gulf Victory" window decal and a cloisonne medallion "honoring all branches of the American military."

"Any veteran of the Gulf crisis or any true American patriot will be honored to own or receive one of these treasured mementos," the company's literature states.

In Phoenix, another company is offering, at $149 a copy, the Operation Desert Storm commemorative field knife. The blade is "laser etched" with "The Liberation of Kuwait" in Arabic on one side and the English abbreviations of 11 coalition nations on the other.

No charge for the sheath.

Neiman-Marcus, meanwhile, is taking orders for the Hummer, a Jeep-type vehicle virtually identical to the U.S. military's Humvee--but without the camouflaged paint. Unlike Humvees, Hummers also come with air conditioning, a cassette stereo, plush carpeting and a $50,000 price tag.

They may not be available for pickup until October, 1992, yet the Dallas-based company already has orders for 20 Hummers, including at least six from drivers in California. Dozens of other customers have inquired about the boxy, all-purpose car that gained fame transporting troops across the sands of Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq.

Hummers are offered in a choice of finishes--red, white or tan--but, according to Neiman-Marcus spokeswoman Carolyn Cobb, anyone who wants to pay a little more "can have it painted any color they want."

Much less expensive, but no less in demand, are Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. trading cards, which began selling earlier this year for about $15 and are fetching as much as $250 today, collectors say. Other foil-edged cards of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, are going for about $35.

The President Bush card, for whatever reason, sells for around $4.

In Houston, meanwhile, a company is advertising "authentic reproductions of explosive warning posters" like those tacked up throughout Kuwait and occupied Iraq by U.S. forces after dozens of children were killed and maimed when unexploded mines and bombs were accidentally detonated by them.

The reproduced posters, according to the company, are printed on high-quality paper and "suitable for framing."

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