ilieff

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  1. That's what happens when people wash their ribbons along with the white laundry. On the serious side, there are a number of reasons why the colours might differ from ribbon to ribbon: 1) Ribbons do lose their colour with time, especially if kept in not very suitable places. Thus, a red ribbon might look orange afrer just a coulple of decades. 2) Different makers used different suppliers of ribbons and often they varied in their colour/tint. Numerous examples throughout Europe. 3) Poor materials used - e.g. during wartime years, the materials used tend to be of a lower quality (being cheaper), hence the colouring could fade away more quickly, compared to other examples. 4) Etc. etc. I am not an expert in foreign decorations, but my suspicion is that the top ribbon on the above image is a replacement/copy ribbon actually, while the 'organge' one appears to be a genuine one. Please correct me if I am wrong.
  2. Original awards were NOT 'casted'. They were minted (press-stamped) and because of this, their reverse and especially edges are very smooth and straight - something which is a huge give-away for fake decorations (which are usually casted) whose reverses are covered with little holes (due to the trapped air while casting) and the edges are more rounded due to hand-sanding the imperfections of the cast. This is visible on the above images too. Even so, I've seen some obviously faked stars for sale, which do have a smooth texture on the reverse. This makes me conclude that either (1) they used original parts/bases OR (2) that professional machines and/or dies were used for the production itself (which is really bad if true).
  3. HI all, Graf, may I elaborate and correct you on some of your points, The Order of Merit had only two classes - Gold and Silver badges (also called 1st and 2nd class) but due to the fact that the 1st class has only been presented to a dozen of men (or so), the general assumption is that the Order of Merit represents a silver badge, used for decoration of army officers (predominantly). As for the Medal of Merit, indeed it came into three classes. It was used for decoration of a broad range of professionals, including military men. The gold medal is indeed the rarest of things. It is a symbol of a great merit and its holders were the highest ranking officials in the country or similar in rank foreigners. Todor Petrov, citing Vl. Vladimirov, writes about 69 golden medals being awarded by 1940 (presumably, the majority of these abroad). I am prone to think this figure is plausible, or at least near the actual number of awarded men. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the original golden medals were simply gilded (with silver of bronze base), there is a certain number of faked golden medals out there. The same applies (perhaps in greater extent) to the golden Orders of Merit. It's a pity. I really like your two golden medals Graf. Congrats! Have these been given to German nationals? Are you able to share any background information? Here's an original illustration on behalf of the Chancellery of Bulgarian orders (circa 1904), showing the classes of both order and medal. Regards, order_and_medal_of_merit.pdf
  4. According to one source, for the period of 1880-1918, about 270 Bulgarians have been decorated with the third class (2nd grade), of whom nearly 170 during WW1. However, this source is most certainly not fully accurate and I assume these numbers could be greater. Sadly, there's no data of the number of foreign nationals given this class. Best,
  5. I hope it's not too off-topic: A very poor quality image of Major General doctor Ivan Batsarov who appears to display his IV class 2nd grade order without swords. Even though I haven't specifically attempted to try to find an image where the Military order w/o swords is being worn, I believe that this is the sole publicly available image in this regard so far. Regards, I
  6. It is a known fact that the Marshall was decorated with the 1st class Order "For Bravery" but I cannot find any reference for the exact date. Sources vaguely indicate late March 1945 as one of the first mass decoration of Soviet army men but it is highly possible that individual decorations did take place prior to this date, too. It is important to note that the 'old-style' decision-making for the Military order (i.e. Order Council) has been disrupted and even suspended in the later years of the War, especially for the privilege of awarding the 4th class orders which were now given upon the personal decision of the army group commander. In this sense, we cannot say with certainty that any decorations with 1st, 2nd, etc. classes were documented officially (as it should under the proper practice of the Order Council) at that time. A few facts which some of you might find interesting: As early as late September 1944, the old stock of orders and medals at the Chancellery has been exhausted and the Chancellery hires Berdj Kesterdjieff's (alternatively spelt Berdz Kesterdziev) factory to mint Soldiers' crosses and to re-silver some old and worn ones. Two weeks later, due to the high demand, Georgi Shishmanov's factory joins in, too. It had to repair broken and deformed awards. November 29th, Two other Sofia-based companies have been employed with award manufacturing - Strahil Miloshev' factory and the Onik Chakarov and Onik Simonyan's joint corporation. They were to mint 4th classes of the Military order (according to Petrov's book, 3,000 of first grade and 500 of the second grade). This is the so called 1944-1945 emission you all know, featuring a five-pointed star on the ring. In April 1945, the Ministry of War considers that the number of Bravery orders, given so far, is unacceptably high and reminds the commander-in-chief of 1st Army, Gen. Stoychev*, that Orders of St Alexander and the National Order of Military Merit also have war-time variations and these should be properly used for decoration of battlefield merits, too. However, in the original text we can sense that the Minister of War has little knowledge as to when St Alexander is given with swords and also which is the war and peace time ribbons for the Order of Military merit. During the later stages of the war, the 6th class of the Order of Military merit has been 'generously' awarded to various military ranks, thus ignoring (in a great extent) the bronze and silver medal of merit. And some numbers from Petrov's book: People awarded with 3rd and 4th class (both 1st and 2nd grade) for the war of 1944-1945 totalled 3,387 (which is 2.82% of the total number of the military). For the same period, the total number of military men awarded with the wartime decorations is 12,974. No data present for the 1st and 2nd class decorations of the Military order. *Gen Stoychev has been decorated with 4th, 3rd and 2nd class (with crown suspension) of the Military Order. Wikipedia states that he's also been decorated with the 1st class but I cannot find a photograph where he's displaying it. I am thinking they might be referencing the later socialist order "For Bravery" instead.
  7. Hi all, Considering that the majority of you are not fluent in Bulgarian language, I wanted to share with you some unique images from Todor Petrov's book on the history of the Bulgarian system of decorations (published in 2011, ISBN 978-954-509-445-3) which covers the period of 1878-2010. Unlike his book in English which you are familiar with, this one is more focused on text rather than images and gives some very nice details which might be quite useful for collectors, too. Apart from the loads of interesting and little know information, in the book are also included some unsuccessful design concepts for the Bulgarian awards. Images #1, #2 and #3 show some of the original black and white sketches of the Order of St Alexander, while #4 - the Military Order. Their author is the designer of all the early Bulgarian orders - Friedrich Heyer von Rosenfeld (decorated for his contributions with Order of St Alexadner IV class, Order of Civil Merit III class and silver Medal for Science and Art). He is also the designer of the new Bulgarian crown of 1891. Image #5 is again by von Rosenfeld - the possible variants of the Red Cross badge. Further on, images #6, #7 and #8 represent blueprints for a WW2-era award [supposedly intended as an order]. It bears the effigy of the King, the year 1941 and the word 'Liberation' signifying the unification of Bulgaria in this year. The author(s) of this projects remain unknown and it's also not clear why this decoration has never been approved. I find these images very interesting and would like to hear what you think of them? If there's enough interest, I will try to elaborate on the topic by describing what's covered in the book itself. Regards, Ilieff EDIT: Images got mixed up. I will add in numbers in between Image 7: Image 6: Image 5: Image 4: Image 3: Image 2: Image 1: Image 8:
  8. Hi all, Just a side note on the 'doctor' crosses. A very large number of these crosses have their ribbon folded in a reversed way. I wonder if this is how they came originally and are meant to be worn? Ilieff
  9. Hi all, Firstly, about the 'Swedish collection' - well spotted Vazov. I just want to note that the neck crosses of 1st class and 2nd class are not identical (one is smaller) and that, as far as I know, there are confirmed 2nd classes from the 'three-dots' emission (Graf posted in another thread a photo of a republican neck badge which in essence is an amended 'Boris III' issue order). What I find even more interesting about the 'Swedish collection' is the 'Alexander' box on the left - it looks slightly larger than the generic boxes we all know. I wonder if it's a box for the 2nd class or simply an optical illusion. Now for the orders with the lily - I agree with the above. However, it baffles me how come there is so much variance in design within a single and very limited edition. There are a couple of images, which indicate even more differences. The first one (from the archive of eMedals) shows a badge with strange swords and again smooth arms, while the second image (from the Union of Collectors in Bulgaria) shows a badge, similar to one shown on the above images but the bottom of the lily is solid/closed as opposed to the open-design of the rest. How very bizarre!? Ilieff
  10. Vazov, I suspect that the '1941' cross without swords which is shown by Prof. Pavlov in his book is a digitally altered image for presentation purposes only (a give-away sign is the ribbon which has been copied from another image). I won't believe in the existence of an actual '1941 doctor' until I see a photographic proof. Sorry for being pessimistic. Ilieff
  11. I agree with Graf that it's the first impression that's the key. The third class first grade shown above is obviously a fake though I admire the time and effort which fakers put into their Frankensteins. I hope that no collectors purchase these items. Unfortunately, a certain number of these fakers are probably reading forums too, so I'd suggest that we don't give them any more details as to how they can improve their 'work'. Fingers crossed!
  12. Dear all, I wanted to elaborate on the topic of orders with lilies on top. I've heard or read several theories for the existence of the so called orders with the lily. Here are some of them: a/ Theory number one states that these pieces were privately made replacements for the original orders b/ Number two states that these crosses are actually part of a very limited in numbers emission (probably prior to or during the Balkan wars) c/ Third theory suggests that these were designated to be an unofficial mark of distinction for the personal grace and endorsement on behalf of the Monarch (hence the lily as a symbol of Ferdinand's Imperial French background). While I cannot write with certainty about a/, my feeling is that these were not privately-made. B/ sounds more plausible but it's not true, as there are visible differences between the samples, plus some of them are marked with 'seven dots' and some are marked with '1915' on the ring. In addition, some have decorative notches on their sides, while others don't. The only explanation for these variances is that these have been manufactured in at least two different batches, possibly by the same company but then again their larger size, in comparison to the generic 4th class badges, is making me feel dubious. While flickering through some images I took while in the National Military History museum, I've noticed the below photograph. Even though the quality is really really bad, you can recognise that this is a generic 'seven dots' bronze (once silvered, I suppose) 4th class but with a lily-shaped ear instead. This prompts me to ask myself whether the lily is only some sort of an elaborate loop or is it instead some sort of a non-official mark of distinction. What do you think? Regards, Ilieff
  13. Dear all, Here's a photograph of the Prime-minister and regent Stefan Stambolov. He's one of the few people presented with the first class set (along with the other two regents). His badge is obviously a generic example with green-enamelled ring as opposed to a gilded one. In addition, below is a photograph of the awarding certificate given to him and singed by the new Monarch. It's dated 1st September 1887 and should be a genuine document, even though I cannot prodive you with its source. The two images together indicate that the green enamelled orders started to be awarded [not later than September] in 1887, while we know for a fact that the commanders of the Serbo-Bulgarian war (e.g. General Nikolaev, General Petrov, etc) have been decorated a year earlier (in 1886) with second classes of the same order but their badges are having gilded outer rings instead. This points to the conclusion that the 'gilded ring' design has been discontinued in mid 1886 (with few exceptions). Another clue is the unique rounded breast star, worn by Alexander I, which also features green enamel. Of course, not everything is that straight-forward when it comes to the highest classes of Bulgarian orders. I think that the highest classes were being given only by the Monarchs grace (especially during Ferdinand's reign) and in the majority of cases personally by Him. A contemporary of the Prince wrote in his memoirs that Ferdinand had his own stash with orders in stock, independantly from the Chancellary of Bulgarian orders (though we cannot be certain of the purpose of these 'stashed' decorations). Also, I think that the 'gilded ring' orders were not only of Imperial Russian manufacure. Some decorations of the Battenberg period were indeed Austrian made and logically, certain numbers of the Order "For Bravery" could well be, too, considering the suspended diplomatic relations with Russia after September 1885 and the need for more orders in early 1886.
  14. Hi Vazov, Here's a slightly more clear image of the same display at the museum (yes, lighting is very limited in there, so any photos would be dim and blurry). I've also noticed the unusual gilded ring example. Prince Romanoff shows such examples in his book. I do not have any information in this regard though. These must be either part of a limited Battenberg/Early Ferdinand batch which obviously has features of both the early and late issues, or a generic piece with changed rings (which is very unlikely). Ilieff