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Open question to the GMIC membership - Russian Federation ODMs


TacHel

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One particular question has been nagging at me for years now, I would really appreciate input from as many of you as possible. Please answer honestly without fear of insult (because it's my particular field of interest).

I am a member of multiple militaria and phaleristics forums worldwide, one common point among all of these is the apparent lack of interest in anything and everything to do with modern day Russia. Tsarist and Soviet ODMs are still hot, but as soon as the wall came crashing down, so did the interest in what came next... I for one was drawn like a magnet to this completely new and unexplored field of collecting but seem to be a member of a minuscule group...

So here's my question:

WHY SO LITTLE OVERT INTEREST?

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Excellent question Frank. I too have heard alot of negatives and put downs on the things that came after the Soviet period and experienced the same general lack of interest.

I think one reason is that after folks put out a sizeable amount on Soviet ODM's plus alot of study to learn all their was in that area of collecting that when the new stuff started to come out they were a bit burned out from it all. Soviet went way up, fakes hit the market and so they gave it a break and went on to what seemed to be greener pastures.

Also, much of what initially came out were the so called Umalatova awards... mostly cheaper copies of Soviet awards. I for one grabbed what I could for cheap when I could including examples of the OGPW's they put out. Again made much cheaper than the Soviet types, even the 85's but I felt and still feel they needed to be represented in a collection that included the OGPW. I still don't know if they only put them out in one class as I've only seen the one type.. There are several of their awards that I would like and still have not been able to add to the collection but I've not seen much on offer for a long while.

Then there were (and still are) a literal ocean of "awards" that were (and are) put out for vets, etc. They can be had for fairly cheap in most cases although it seems they've gone up a bit in the last few years. They're unofficial and seems new ones are being put out on a continuous basis.

So by the time the Russian Federation started to put out official awards I think these others had put folks off. Plus, there seem to be many times the total amount of awards in the new system as there were in the Soviet system of ODM's. Way too many at todays prices and availability for most folks to put together a comprehensive collection... but only being able to obtain a few pieces they really like. I don't think there's an end in sight as seems they keep adding things as they go along. I think the Orders are pretty set but as far as medals I nearly expect a series for heroic milk men and another for heroic delivery drivers, etc., before it's all over and done with.

Also, it seemed whenever someone who had an interest in any of these would post them alot of negative comments would be made and I think that made alot of folks either give up or just keep their interest in all this to themselves.

Again just my opinion but it's definitely the feeling I've had for a long time.

As far as Imperial ODM's or militaria in general, it's always seemed to make that such things were WAY beyond the average collectors budget and it only seems to have gotten worse. I have one cap cockade and a few replica pieces and consider myself lucky to have that. I can't dream of owning any of the Orders not to mention most of the medals. Plus they have pretty much been faked to death too so unless one has alot of expertise in the area it can also be a minefield.

Anyhow, that's my twenty Rubles be it for better or worse. Hope it helps.

Dan

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Frank, like many things, I think collecting fields are highly influenced by marketing - as in advertising and promotion. Soviet ODMs were highly marketed - and still are to some degree. It's the same with the major combatants of both WWI and WW2 - high degree of information and promotion. Your new area - Russian Federation - is suffering from a lack of exposure. One could say the same thing for ODMs for all the former Communist states. Of course, Russia is the largest, but until the marketing craze kicks in, there will simply be a lack of interest except among true collectors like yourself.

I think a big reason for the lack of exposure is also the lack of wartime service; Russia has a few decorations associated with the Caucasus, but that's about it; until there is a conflict that makes the medals more desirable, they will probably languish on the sidelines.

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Dan, you make a valid point when you mention the original items that made it unto the Western market, the lack of hard data made it a veritable free for all! I myself purchased over a dozen unofficial medals before forcing myself to dig deeper prior to investing too much. Umalatovas, communist party, awards comittee, veterans of Afghanistan, airborne veterans, the list is long! I can see people being put off by all of the bogus stuff more often than not being advertised as official state awards by dealers that had no clue.

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I think a big reason for the lack of exposure is also the lack of wartime service; Russia has a few decorations associated with the Caucasus, but that's about it; until there is a conflict that makes the medals more desirable, they will probably languish on the sidelines.

Possible... But by the same token... Dang! How big of a war are we talking about here?

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I personally drew the line at collecting Soviet. The Russian Federation military and its awards do not appeal to me.

Firstly - Design. No offence meant, but I do not like the look of Russian Federation ODMs which in may cases are of inferior quality to the good old soviet stuff... late soviet awards were already not of the best quality and I do not think that the Federation has done much to improve the beauty of its awards.

Secondly - Relative importance. Russia is not the USSR and it does not have the muscle that it once did. I'll probably become a persona non grata in Russia now... but although Russia played a significant part in the world history in the 20th Century, through its participation in the GPW and in the cold war, it has since lost its relative importance in the world - still a superpower of course, pas la meme chose! Yes, Irish Gunner is right - war will raise the desirability of awards, because it creates combat awards. I do not care for a long service medal. But I do care for a bravery award. I believe there are more service awards being given out rather than valour awards.

Thirdly - Supply and Demand. I hardly doubt that there is as much supply of Russian Federation awards as there was for original soviet awards in the 1990s early 2000s. Remember that these went cheap and they were almost always original. 20 years down the road, even the more complex awards are sometimes well faked. Let alone inferior quality Russian Awards. I am not talking about higher end orders which, lets face it are not really on the market. Then you also have to navigate between official and non-official. Hauptmann mentions the several unofficial veteran's awards - typical of the soviet system to award anniversary or veteran awards - but not official and not really desirable. So even if one does weed these out and succeed in collecting official medals only, can one be sure that they are original.

Fourth - Which brings me to my final point: availibility of literature. I am not well informed here but I get the feeling that there is still insufficient literature to help would be collectors. Soviet collectors were, at the time, armed with the Red Bible (now rendered partially obsolete by modern publications). And that was all we needed at the time!!

Frank, the time to collect Russian Federation awards will come. Possibly, when it becomes appealing to the masses, those who have taken an early interest will find themselves at the forefront of the hobby. But not until that big war comes, or sufficient years go by to allow recently awarded ODMs to find themselves on the market in abundant quantities. And when they do, just pray to God that the dealers do not manage to fudge it up as they did with Soviet awards!!

Jim :cheers:

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All valid points...
Had I not taken it upon myself to research the subject in great depth, the very few, horribly limited and incomplete Russian language only books written in the past 20 years would've limited me to a mere 50 or so pieces. To date, I've positively identified well over 500 "official" awards including their insitution orders/decrees. This lack of relevant "published" data has allowed dealers to peddle their baubles with great ease claiming ignorance. I can see where this would've pushed many to keep well away.

And yes, makers of fakes really learned their lessons well with Soviet pieces, excellent copies of high end Russian ODMs were all over the market within months of the appearance of the real things (Order of Courage, Medal of Suvorov, etc). I regularly shop on Russian auction sites, for every official award, there's easily 15 to 20 "garbage" pieces. The darn thing is the bogus items are often much nicer looking and of much better quality than the official awards.

The "themed" collections of most Russian collectors only makes matters worse... They don't care if a piece is official or not, as long as it falls within the parameters of the main theme of their collection.

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Frank,

I've been in somewhat the same boat with my PMR collection... except for one or two (maybe 3 or 4) individuals, most folks just aren't that interested. I thought that an unrecognized country that still uses the hammer and sickle, is a Cossack host, has the sheer might of the Russian 14th (and all that firepower salvaged from Eastern Europe) behind it and produces great cognac would, at least, motivate people to take a look. Oh well, me thinking again...

But, I still absolutely love the PMR aspect of my collection, and I'm going to stick with it for that reason. And, I can tell by your effort that you must have a similar feeling for the Russian Federation collection so, by all means, rock on. After all, don't we really collect for ourselves? Nice to have others appreciate what we're doing- no doubt- but, at the end of the day, we're really doing it to please ourselves.

As you can see in some of the other aspects of my collection I have a few pieces that are worth more that a couple of dollars; sure. But honestly, I get some of my best "kicks" from some of the lesser items... odd-ball things that were harder to find or a piece that is just beautifully done that others don't seem to be interested in (I seem to have a lot of these). I guess what I'm trying to say here is "please yourself"- this ain't your day job where you have to please everyone else.

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Everyone has their own reasons for liking or disliking a particular period, and there are several downchecks to contemporary Russian ODM.

Some folks don't like modern. Some do not like to have to come to grips with what is quite a challenging language (any one where you have to learn an alphabet as well as the words is that bit harder...). Some are daunted by the sheer number of pieces they're putting out.

Me, I already get by in Russian, am happy cataloguing away, and as interested in present-day as historical. But you know that already :)

Drat, came here to start a blog and got sidetracked. Now I have to go out... maybe later!

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Frank, I've been in somewhat the same boat with my PMR collection... except for one or two (maybe 3 or 4) individuals, most folks just aren't that interested. I thought that an unrecognized country that still uses the hammer and sickle, is a Cossack host, has the sheer might of the Russian 14th (and all that firepower salvaged from Eastern Europe) behind it and produces great cognac would, at least, motivate people to take a look.

Woa woa woa... Wait a minute! Hold the phone! Back up a bit!

Did you say "cognac"?

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