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General And Slightly Off Topic Talk Forum for exchanging ideas and talking about general issues without straying too far off topic.

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Old 04-24-2012, 04:32 PM   #81
CtahhR
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Re: Hi Everyone!

I think good advice is; Focus! and start at the bottom. If you focus in on one area (or even one item) you will find it far more rewarding than trying to get everything at once. The information you earn whilst collecting the lower end items will help you no end when it is time to expand into the more costly items.

There is a vast amount of fun to be had with the hobby but also a vast amount of heartbreak when you get done by someone trading good money for bad items.

Have fun and don't get too addicted.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:22 PM   #82
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Re: Hi Everyone!

Welcome to the addiction, for that is what it will be.

You are starting at a difficult time to begin collecting and be ready for that. Better than the 1970s and 1980s, for sure, but not as sweet as the 1990s.

Focus, as you have been told, is important. When I started out, back when Moses had zits, I was advised to:

1- Buy books and journal subscriptions, learn as much as you can before you buy your first medal.

2- Buy more books. Never stop. Bookcases are easier and cheaper than medal cases. (Some people will tell you all the knowledge is online. Some people will also tell you the earth is flat. Seek serious research, not random unsupported pretentious opinions.)

3- Be aware that common items (whatever they may be these dark days) will always be around, but the scarcer items are just that: Scarce. Buy one good item rather than six common things. (Depending on the working "budget". What a silly word!)

4- Buy only from reliable sources and dealers. This is far more important and difficult now than it was when I started, for the emergence of e$cam and the sorts of sharks it encourages wasn't an issue then. The forum marketplace is a good place to look as there is some sort of ethical code in place.

5- Fakes have become a problem. For Soviet stuff, they're a major problem. Be aware and be educated, but do not become obsessed or paranoid (this is very easy to do -- look at some of the posts here). Try to handle (grope) as many good items as you can and you'll develop the "feel" for what is good and what isn't. Gatherings like the OMSA convention are delightful places to do this (and not as filled with irrelevant unreconstructed Nazis as will be the case with some of the more generic "militaria" shows).

6- Never spend more than you can afford to do without. This will be a MAJOR problem as the addiction grows, but food and shelter are more important than medals. Really.

7- You will be tempted to stray and be ready to do that. While you should focus, don't lose your magpie instincts and be teased away by shiney things. When you're not near the medals you love, love the medals you're near (as the song almost put it).

8- Get the things you can research researched and the materials translated (if you don't know Russian). This isn't as easy to do as it once was, but it will allow you to see your collection as history, as relics of people who are otherwise lost to memory, rather than just as sparkly "things".

9- Have fun. Have fun. Have fun.

10- Never be afraid to ask questions. The only stupid question is the one you never dare to ask. Some may snarl and snap, ignore them. But others will answer politely and seriously.

Ten commandments? Hardly. Ten random thoughts. Maybe just my ten tugriks worth.

Last edited by medals73; 04-24-2012 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:37 PM   #83
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Re: Hi Everyone!

I'd like to piggyback on CtahhR's advice with regard to focusing on one aspect to begin your collection; there is so much out there if you consider the entire USSR- overwhelming, to say the least.

Also, there is the problem of fakes- they used to be fairly easy to spot, but have become more difficult to recognize as the "fakers" techniques have improved considerably. To this end, I would suggest study (especially if going for the higher end items)... there are some good books to be had, some in print and some no longer in print but available. Also, search the item in question here. This is a "treasure trove" of good, solid advice that will certainly steer you toward good, original pieces and help save you from throwing good money away on junk.

One last thing, and probably the most important... have fun! It's a great and rewarding hobby/avocation that allows not only the study of history, but gives you the ability to touch and hold a part of it in your hand. You become, in fact, a caretaker of that period in time. Welcome!
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:10 PM   #84
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Re: Hi Everyone!

Welcome aboard, Tom

Hope you enjoy this hobby as much as all of us do.
You already got some very good advices from CtahhR and medals73. Follow them and I assure you you will have a lot of fun and almost zero grief.

Now, regarding your interest area, there are many sub-categories to focus on. Some examples are: Researched awards (with information of the recipient, like who, when, and why he got it for), awards with their documents (the certificate that came with it), award groups (all the awards and paperwork awarded to one person), cased ones, military ones awarded during peacetime or combat, Soviet awards given to foreign people, Labor awards, awards given to individuals of a certain ethnic group within the USSR, etc... You have a lot of choices!

These areas are not my cup o' tea though, since now I´m focusing on other Warsaw Pact awards rather than Soviet ones.

Kind regards.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:16 AM   #85
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Re: Hi Everyone!

Again, thankyou so much to everyone who's replied! There's a really nice sense of community in here it seems!

Which book does everyone think would be the best refrence book to start with?

I think the main difficulty i'm having is focusing on a specific area to research and collect. Since i was young my interest in the Soviet Union and eastern front of world war 2 has been so huge, that i feel bad collecting certain areas over others! Even though i know i must in order to retain my sanity (and bank balance).

I would really love to own a full set of Maternal Glory Medals & Mother Heroine! I'd also love an Order of the October Revolution & Red Banner of Labour! (Not exactly the wildest dream but still a bit unsure where to start!)

I guess naturally, the more i research the more i will fall into collecting one type of thing, but for now i fell slightly like a kid in a sweet shop!

I recently moved to a new city as well, so i have no idea who locally is trustworthy as a dealer, and there seems to be little to no information on the net about dealers in my area

So if anyone could PM me details of reputable dealers either at home (UK) or abroad that would be great, also who to avoid too would be helpful! As reading these forums, people seem to have a good idea of who is good and who is bad!

Thanks again,

Tom
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:46 AM   #86
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Re: Hi Everyone!

The book to start with is the classic "Red Bible", Paul McDaniel and Paul J. Schmitt, The Comprehensive Guide to Soviet Orders and Medals (Arlington: Historical Research, [1997]; ISBN 0-9656289-0-6). Some will snarl at this book, pointing out that it is in English (as if that were a bad thing?), it is old (it created and defined the field of Soviet collecting), it has errors (what non-"sacred" text doesn't?), it is out of date (true, but there's nothing else in English to equal it -- I wish there were some hope for a 2nd edition, but I gather that for a range of reasons this is an impossible dream), and that it is now hard to find and expensive when you do (true). But there is nothing (in English) to equal or surpass it.

If your approach to collecting is to collect each and every micro-micro-sub-variation of a single award, the contemporary classification scheme has exploded and altered, but for all the other collecting styles, it is just fine.

If you read Russian, there are other options, both with normal published sources and online. I don't, though I have some books in Russian whose sometimes pretty pictures I can enjoy and if I am desperate Google Translate can produce laughable English versions of online Russian sites.

If you are in the UK, I hope someone can help you (by PM) regarding dealers. I know several I wouldn't recommend to anyone, and know that some auction houses often get Soviet medals (and it is one of them that I'll be using when the time comes when I move my guests out of the collection), but don't know of anyone reliable. Due to forum policy we cannot mention dealers (except for the existence of the forum's own marketplace). I doubt you'll find a local dealer, just down the lane, unless you live in London (and, these days, that's hard enough to do even for British medals).

Good luck!
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:50 AM   #87
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Re: Hi Everyone!

Yorkshire ey?

I hear there is a Yorkshireman around here somewhere, maybe he'll come out of the woodwork?

As for physical dealer locations of Soviet awards in Yorkshire you are totally out of luck. There is a very nice Medal dealer in Leeds arcade but I've never seen anything Soviet there. The Medal dealers that were reputable in Hull and York which I used to frequent both closed their doors in 2009/10. No Soviet items in Doncaster either. Back in the 20th century I used to travel to Sheffield/Rotherham every Saturday and not once have I ever seen a Soviet award offered. In the town nearest to where I live (Goole), I have only ever once seen a Soviet Medal that wasn't in my collection and that was a 40th victory Medal to a convoy veteran.

The options therefore are rather similar to my own.... buy online but don't just buy from anyone offering you the golden egg as you will soon find you get a collection of duck eggs if you're not careful.
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:55 AM   #88
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Re: Hi Everyone!

Yorkshire through and through, so i'm even more reluctant to let go of my money than everyone else

Yea, i used to live in York and i remember there used to be a medal shop on Lendal near the bridge but pretty sure thats closed now.

Yea i figured the net would be my only real viable option, it's knowing who you can trust!

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Old 04-25-2012, 08:37 AM   #89
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Re: Hi Everyone!

Welcome, Tom. It's good to see some new blood here.

I'll PM you two dealers; one good and one not so good. Both are useful for getting an idea of pricing.

As for aquiring new items why not place an advert in the 'Wanted' section of our marketplace? I have quite a few duplicates lying around that I haven't bothered to list (including two RBLs) and I suspect there may be a few others like me.

Also, the marketplace is a great place to buy. While it doesn't have the wide selection that ebay does it does not have any fakes.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:41 AM   #90
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Re: Hi Everyone!

Everything in York has now closed, with the exception of the "seasonal" shop on the Shambles which isn't cheap nor have anything Soviet. The only time I have ever seen a Communist Bulgarian item for sale at a physical location in England was in York. They had an Order "Kiril And Methodij" 3rd Class for £75 (Then $150). Not cheap at 5% of the price.

Unfortunately with the "economy" being as it is specialised and luxury things get taken out first.

I came to Lancaster (yes wrong side I know) two weekends ago to see what Soviet etc. items I could buy up. My contact on the ground informed everyone with a month's notice to bring out all their Soviet items to sell for me then. When I arrived there was only 1 vendor who offered me some "Soviet Badges". They were in fact DDR and not only that but about 3000% a reasonable price.

Collecting is almost impossible without the online sources.
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