I was in the Chicago area last week doing some family visiting. As good fortune would have it my sister-in-law took us to an antique mall in one of the suburbs and we got there a good half hour before they closed. My wife asked the clerk if any booths had military medals and the nice lady took us to three that had large amounts of military items for sale. The first two had nothing of interest to me but the third made my day. I asked the lady to open a case and let me see what looked like a breast star of the modern version of the old Persian Order of the Lion and Sun, now called the Nischan-el-Homayoun. As soon as I had it in hand I saw that it had a loop and ring for a ribbon suspension and even though it was missing the ribbon it still came with a very hefty price tag. I passed on it saying it was only an incomplete III class and therefore much too expensive for me. There was an instant expression of shock and disbelief on the lady's face. "Well" she said, "this booth belongs to a dealer who is on The Antiques Road Show and he is one of their military experts!" "That's nice" I replied not wanting to alienate her any further, "now can I please see those Soviet Orders?" Out came four beautiful orders including the Red Banner of Labor type 4 with the hydro dam, Labor Glory III Class with the tower and my favorite, the Badge of Honor Type III variety 3 with the two workers, all illustrated below plus the Order of the Red Star and all for less than the Iranian order would have cost me.
Dealers are generalists and as such they usually have an extensive broad based knowledge that can be very impressive but the collector who has done his homework and has more specialized interests will almost always come out on top : advantage collector.