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Some Tips for Beginners


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Hi everyone,

as we have a few new members, who are interested in soviet orders and Medals, i though, i put up some helpful hints. Feel free to add anything, you consider important this connection.

1. Buy Reference Books

Its absolutely necessary to buy Reference books, if you plan to collect Soviet ODM. The one, i would recommend most is still "The Comprehensive Guide to Orders and Medals" from Paul McDaniel and Paul Schmitt. If you are interested in the history behind this awards, get the book "Echoes of War" , which is a great addition to the first mentioned book. Its about researched Soviet awards and sets this awards in its historical and localized (word?) context.

Further there are some online-references, which are very helpful. The first, i want to mention, is unfortunately only in russian, but its a great website with a lot of pictures. Also understandable to a great degree without being able to speak russian.

http://www.mondvor.narod.ru/

For The Order of the Great Patriotic War, the Order of the Red Star and the Order of Nevsky there is a great online reference here:

http://www.soviet-screwbacks.com

2. Buy from trustworthy sources.

As there are noumerous fakes out there of several of the soviet orders and medals, which are nearly not distinguishable to Originals, you should stick to dealers, which are known as honest. They should have a money-back guarantee, never buy without. Often a piece only turns out fake, when you have the opportunity to examine it closely in hand.

Dealers, i can recommend are:

http://pweb.netcom.com/~merezhko/militaria.html

(Alexei Merezhko, the best in my opinion, a real pleasure to deal with, look at the Fakes-site too!)

http://collectrussia.com/

(Awesome stock, prices high, but good and fair dealer)

http://www.russian-medals.net/

(Dimitri Markov, good, but you have to be careful sometimes, as a fake or two slips hrough once in a while)

3. Be suspicous. If you find a piece to a price, which seems too good to be true, it most probably is. Of course there are still great deals to make and bargains to find, but you won?t find a real Order of Nevsky for 35 Dollar, believe me. Use your common sense.

4. Ask questions! The only dumb question is the one, you don?t ask. Profit from the knowledge of more experienced collectors and ask, ask, ask! The most of them don?t bite and are more than happy to help a newbie.

5. Handle as many pieces as possible. Visit other collectors and handle their collection or visit shows to look at originals there (with an experienced helper, if possible).

6. Get other collectors look at the pieces, you plan to purchase. The more people, you can ask, the better. Use forums like this to post good clear photos.

I am sure, i have forgotten a lot, but i hope, the other members will step in with more advice.

Will add a few points later, got to run now...

best,

Gerd

Edited by Gerd Becker
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Lieber Gerd,

great informations for the beginners :beer: , but the beginner has to have a lot of money for building up a "rather" comprehensive collection ;) . It was easier 12 years ago to build up a nice collection ...

For Europe Sasha (Alexandre Paretski) in Berlin is an excellent source for genuine pieces at rather moderate prices.

Liebe Gr??e

Christian

Hi everyone,

as we have a few new members, who are interested in soviet orders and Medals, i though, i put up some helpful hints. Feel free to add anything, you consider important this connection.

1. Buy Reference Books

Its absolutely necessary to buy Reference books, if you plan to collect Soviet ODM. The one, i would recommend most is still "The Comprehensive Guide to Orders and Medals" from Paul McDaniel and Paul Schmitt. If you are interested in the history behind this awards, get the book "Echoes of War" , which is a great addition to the first mentioned book. Its about researched Soviet awards and sets this awards in its historical and localized (word?) context.

Further there are some online-references, which are very helpful. The first, i want to mention, is unfortunately only in russian, but its a great website with a lot of pictures. Also understandable to a great degree without being able to speak russian.

http://www.mondvor.narod.ru/

For The Order of the Great Patriotic War, the Order of the Red Star and the Order of Nevsky there is a great online reference here:

http://www.soviet-screwbacks.com

2. Buy from trustworthy sources.

As there are noumerous fakes out there of several of the soviet orders and medals, which are nearly not distinguishable to Originals, you should stick to dealers, which are known as honest. They should have a money-back guarantee, never buy without. Often a piece only turns out fake, when you have the opportunity to examine it closely in hand.

Dealers, i can recommend are:

http://pweb.netcom.com/~merezhko/militaria.html

(Alexei Merezhko, the best in my opinion, a real pleasure to deal with, look at the Fakes-site too!)

http://collectrussia.com/

(Awesome stock, prices high, but good and fair dealer)

http://www.russian-medals.net/

(Dimitri Markov, good, but you have to be careful sometimes, as a fake or two slips hrough once in a while)

3. Be suspicous. If you find a piece to a price, which seems too good to be true, it most probably is. Of course there are still great deals to make and bargains to find, but you won?t find a real Order of Nevsky for 35 Dollar, believe me. Use your common sense.

4. Ask questions! The only dumb question is the one, you don?t ask. Profit from the knowledge of more experienced collectors and ask, ask, ask! The most of them don?t bite and are more than happy to help a newbie.

5. Handle as many pieces as possible. Visit other collectors and handle their collection or visit shows to look at originals there (with an experienced helper, if possible).

6. Get other collectors look at the pieces, you plan to purchase. The more people, you can ask, the better. Use forums like this to post good clear photos.

I am sure, i have forgotten a lot, but i hope, the other members will step in with more advice.

Will add a few points later, got to run now...

best,

Gerd

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Dear Soviet,

Sasha's - retail - prices are at the same (a little bit high) level as Igor's recent prices at his website.

Sasha works - as he told to me - as a wholesaler to dealers in the US and Europe, so his effective prices have to be considerable lower. Also in retail business as an good custumer you can calculate with a discount of about 10 % from the price - or even more -, what is rather usual in Europe, if you pay cash.

Best regards

Christian

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I do not think you need big sums of money to build up a collection. Certainly some top pieces do go at phenomenal prices.... especially if you want to use dealers. No denying that. But then again, collections tend to start bottom up and not top down. By starting with the cheaper medals you slowly get exposure to the full range of awards and you can then start to up the stakes. If your already hunting for the Lenins and Ushakovs without understanding say the campaign medals.....you are shooting for the hip!

I think there are still loads of awards still to be found in flea markets and shops where they sometimes really do not know what they are selling! Of course, some of these people are getting wiser... some too wise...so still beware them unless you are sure of what you are doing!!! But what I mean is this - its all about fiding the right bargain in the right place and sometimes beating the market. And when you know that you did that, you love the piece even more! Of course..I am not saying get suckered into fakes! God knows I probably hate fakes more than anyone else does... (bet you all think you hate fakes more than I do :P ).

All Gerd said is very valid. Well done! If I may add my advice .... no collection was ever built in a day....and if it was it wasn't ever much fun! - Much as I'd love to have all the soviet russian awards and medals I still do not....and I have been collecting these items way back into last century ;) I admit having missed out on a great many bargains at the time which I really regret today :banger: ! But then again, I did not have all the funds in my hand as a student nor did I have full access to the whole range of awards living where I did.

I think the idea of collecting something...anything... remains to enjoy the collection and the actual act of collecting it. Even if you do buy one item per month or even per year, just enjoy the hunt and the kill - looking for it ....sniffing it out....and finding it at the right price. And my last tip.... Whatever you do buy... please do buy wisely!

Jim

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Simple advice: BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS and other printed sources. First, second, and always. Get them first, read them, consume them, arm yourself with knowledge. Then (and only then) move on to the orders and medals.

And, I'd argue, go when you can (that is, have the cash) for the best thing(s) you can afford (from reliable dealers ONLY). Face it, the low-end stuff will always be available (we are talking availability, not price), but the better things you may not see again or at least for a long time. Things that were fairly common only a few years back are never seen now, but the Victory over Germany Medal will always (?) be available. I'd argue that it is better to buy one top-quality researchable item than a drawer full of WWII campaign medals.

Edited by Ed_Haynes
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Simple advice: BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS and other printed sources. First, second, and always. Get them first, read them, consume them, arm yourself with knowledge. Then (and only then) move on to the orders and medals.

And, I'd argue, go when you can (that is, have the cash) for the best thing(s) you can afford (from reliable dealers ONLY). Face it, the low-end stuff will always be available (we are talking availability, not price), but the better things you may not see again or at least for a long time. Things that were fairly common only a few years back are never seen now, but the Victory over Germany Medal will always (?) be available. I'd argue that it is better to buy one top-quality researchable item than a drawer full of WWII campaign medals.

Ed,

I agree 99% with Ya!! A Defense of Sevastopol, Odessa or the Polar Region with documents would be an excellent investment. You can get the rest of the campaign Medals later after you get the upper end stuff. Of course, I agree 100%...BOOKS, BOOKS & BOOKS. Read all you can!!

:beer: Doc

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Simple advice: BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS and other printed sources. First, second, and always. Get them first, read them, consume them, arm yourself with knowledge. Then (and only then) move on to the orders and medals.

And, I'd argue, go when you can (that is, have the cash) for the best thing(s) you can afford (from reliable dealers ONLY). Face it, the low-end stuff will always be available (we are talking availability, not price), but the better things you may not see again or at least for a long time. Things that were fairly common only a few years back are never seen now, but the Victory over Germany Medal will always (?) be available. I'd argue that it is better to buy one top-quality researchable item than a drawer full of WWII campaign medals.

I absolutely agree, but i might add, also the common orders like Red Banner, Order of the Patriotic War and early Red Stars can be a lot of fun too. I like the awards to the Joe or should i say Ivan Average, so i am happy with all the research-results, i get, as these display the normal life in this terrible war.

I must admit, the reason, why i don?t have a Nevsky yet, is just, because i buy much too much common stuff and get it researched. But i don?t care, even if i will never own one.

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I absolutely agree, but i might add, also the common orders like Red Banner, Order of the Patriotic War and early Red Stars can be a lot of fun too. I like the awards to the Joe or should i say Ivan Average, so i am happy with all the research-results, i get, as these display the normal life in this terrible war.

I must admit, the reason, why i don?t have a Nevsky yet, is just, because i buy much too much common stuff and get it researched. But i don?t care, even if i will never own one.

Correct, Gerd. By "high end" I don't mean one of the high generals-only orders or even a Lenin (though those ARE sexy) . . . I mean a good Glory 2-3 pair or a screw-post Red Banner or (yes) a Nevsky -- something that isn't likely long service and will repay research.

I cannot imagine having something serial numbered and unresearched!

Frankly, I prefer groups over types, as you come closer to a person's life that way. But you see THAT in my collection. :P

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See, what you mean, Ed. And you are right, groups are of course nicer, as you normally get the citations of all awards and get a more complete picture. I am sometimes tempted to get the citations for the connected pieces, i don?t have, but that would cost too much money. I?m still chewing on the last bill. :speechless: But whats money compared to the thrill, i get out of my research? :jumping:

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Ed and Gerd, I agree on books books books to the nth! But if I may.....do not lose completely lose yourself in books as there is nothing better than first hand experience in handling awards and getting the feel of them. For those of you who can attend events such as OMSA etc, I think it is excellent hands on experience. For those others who cannot, its also good to get together with other collectors when possible compare and contrast notes as well as collections.

And may I add that this forum is indeed a great place to find help. As Gerd said....do not be scared to ask any question....nobody bites and we are all willing to help when we can!

Jim

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Dear Soviet,

Sasha's - retail - prices are at the same (a little bit high) level as Igor's recent prices at his website.

Sasha works - as he told to me - as a wholesaler to dealers in the US and Europe, so his effective prices have to be considerable lower. Also in retail business as an good custumer you can calculate with a discount of about 10 % from the price - or even more -, what is rather usual in Europe, if you pay cash.

Best regards

Christian

Christian,

I can confirm all you are saying here about Sasha.

Ch.

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I agree 99% with Ya!! A Defense of Sevastopol, Odessa or the Polar Region with documents would be an excellent investment.

You know what, I have never cared about the documents of unnumbered medals. Why? Because you cannot be sure that the document belong to your medal.

I only care when they are part of a group. Otherwise single document with single medal = many chance they don't belong together!

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Gentlemen,

All great suggestions. Although perhaps redundant, I would like to post a quote from my report on this year?s OMSA Convention.

?But for the benefit of those of you who have never attended an OMSA convention, especially those who are just getting started in Soviet collecting, I cannot strongly enough urge you to do so. Not only does it give you a chance to see and study pieces that you may not ever see again, but it gives you an opportunity to discuss them, and of course any others, with some of the most knowledgeable people in the business; all of whom I have found to be most accommodating and even eager to share their experience. Naturally, this also presents the opportunity to establish relationships with these people which can come in very handy in the future when they know what you are looking for.

One last point is that there is nothing like actually seeing and handling an item. I bought two items, one Imperial German and one Mongolian (see below), both of which I had seen before on the net; and although mildly interested in both, actually seeing and handling did me in...?

Thank you all,

Wild Card

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After collecting Soviet awards for fourteen years, my personal opinion is this:

1 - Start buy buying good reference books, and study them. The first book you should own is the Comprehensive Guide by McDaniel and Schmitt. Learn about the awards, what they look like, and what they were awarded for.

2 - Determine what you want to collect. Do you want to be a collector who has one of each award, or perhaps every variation of certain awards? Do you want to research the awards and find the citations as to why they were awarded? Do you care if that particular award can be traced to the exact recipient, or are you just interested in the rarity of an award? I know collectors in each of these camps. None are bad or wrong, just different. It will probably be after your first few awards that you determine which camp you're in. Unfortunately, with the prices of awards these days, you won't have the benefit of buying one of nearly every award, and then deciding later what is interesting and what isn't, like I did when I started collecting.

3 - Become an expert in your area. There are far too many sub-areas of Soviet collecting that one can become an expert in, and as I said above, given the cost of many awards these days, it's simply not affordable to most to branch into too many sub-areas. If you're going to collect Red Banners, study and learn everything about them. If you're going to collect only decorations from the WW2 time period, it's a broader study, but learn everything there is to know. The same goes for post-War awards, campaign medals, etc. Pick a topic, learn all you can about it, and then branch out into other topics.

Unfortunately, with prices these days, it forces most people (especially new collectors) to specialize in one area or another. That's not bad, but just a fact of life. I think there are many, many fascinating areas of Soviet collecting, and the more one digs into them, the more one learns. Even though I've been collecting Soviet awards for 14 years, I am still learning new things regularly, even though I've found my "nitche" areas of collecting and am concentrating on those (posthumous awards and post-War Red Stars.) To me, that's a great way of keeping the collection alive, interesting and most importantly, affordable on my mere-mortal salary.

Just my two cents.

Dave

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I would also recommend a basic tool kit. This kit should include:

1) Magnifying Glass or Loop

2) Needle nose pliers

3) ruler

4) Calipers

For making displays:

1) Velcro

2) straight pins

3)small nails/brads

4) child's Non-Toxic glue stick

5) glue gun

6) felt

7) Small hammer

General:

1) jewelers screwdriver kit

2) Plastic Medal Sleeves

This should be a good start.

:beer: Doc

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Gentlemen,

Dave raises a point in his post #22 that I would like to address. I must confess that my first love is Imperial German orders and decorations in that I have been collecting in that field for almost thirty years, as opposed to ten years in The Soviet.

To Dave?s point. There are a number of similarities between the two areas when it comes to collecting not the least of which is the number of different categories by which they can be collected. As Dave put it ?...one of each award, or perhaps every variation of certain awards? Do you want to research the awards and find the citations as to why they were awarded? Do you care if that particular award can be traced to the exact recipient, or are you just interested in the rarity of an award??

My point is that, when given the opportunity, I ask you to encourage new collectors to take their time from the start in finding their particular interest(s). It is okay to collect ?Soviet? without specializing in the Order of the Red Banner of Labor or awards related to Kursk from day one. See what winds up ?talking to you?; it can be an interesting journey.

Thank you,

Wild Card

Edited by Wild Card
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Much wise widsom here. Thanks, all.

One more suggestion: If there is ANY way to do so, a beginning collector should develop some degree of ability in the Russian language. Even if it is only a rudimentary knowledge of the printed Cyrillic script (handwriting is quite another matter and is a bigger challenge!) with a limited vocabulary and almost no grammar, I think some level of Russian is a vitally important part of the fledgling Russian phalerist's toolbox. Ideally, higher levels of skill in Russian should be sought. Not only are there documents and citations to read and translate, but I suspect that, twenty years from now if it is not true already, the most important sources will be in Russian. There is already the Mondovor online site and a number of very good focused books on awards like the Red Banner and Lenin. I suspect that, as we move beyond the classic and ground-breaking (I almost said "revolutionary") Red Bible, you'll need literacy in Russian to benefit much. This will reflect what we are seeing already, the emergence of a large and active ethnically and linguisitically Russian collecting community. Just as one needs German to be a serious collector of German awards in any era, Russian is very desirable for the collector of Soviet awards and, in a few years, it may be a near-necessity.

For those of us here, now, the first generation of post-Cold-War students of Soviet awards, many of us stumble along with limited or no Russian skills. Some, like me, can barely function (I and I need to take my own advice here). I can't imagine the second generation being able to do so. And how much easier would it be for us if we could read (forget conversation, which reduces the value of most CD-ROM based language teaching tools, as they focus on speaking and comprehension skills).

Learn Cyrillic, get a dictionary, learn the rudiments of grammar, and get to work! I know I am!! :P

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