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Frunzich

Bulgarian Medal for Merit

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Hello, guys!

I have some questions concerning Bulgarian Medal for Merit. I know that it was founded on 25.12.1881 by decree of Bulgarian prince Alexander of Battenberg and awarded in 3 classes for service to the Crown or Fatherland - gold (rarely, to high-ranking officials and generals), silver (to middle-ranking officials and officers) and bronze (to lower-ranking officials and NCOs). Sometimes the medal was awarded on Royal crown suspension with flying tassels. The face of the medal displayed  Bulgarian ruler of the corresponding period - knyaz Alexander of Battenberg (in 1883-1886), knyaz (in 1887-1908) or tsar (in 1908-1918) Ferdinand I, and tsar Boris III (in 1918-1943); in 1944-1947 the Regency issue was minted, with the "Bulgarian" lion rampant.

Does anybody have the info about bronze Medal for Merit of tsar Boris III period (1918-1943) - how much were awarded and which mints did produce them? Did some modifications (types) of this medal exist?

 

Thanks in advance

Edited by Frunzich

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I found an info that there were at least two types of the Medal for Merit (tsar Boris III period) - with the inscription "БОРИСЪ III ЦАРЬ НА БЪЛГАРИТѢ" or "БОРИС III ЦАРЬ НА БЪЛГРИТѢ", which means "Boris III - King of Bulgaria" in both cases.

Edited by Frunzich

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Unfortunatelly, it is impossible to edit the previous post already...

БОРИСЪ III in both cases, but БЪЛГАРИТѢ or БЪЛГРИТѢ

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Here is the Medal for Merit.

Bronze class, 1918-1944 issue. Diameter 29 mm.

The face with the head of tsar Boris III facing left, circumscribed with his name and royal title. The reverse inscribed "For merit" in Bulgarian language above a small five-pointed star within a wreath of oak and laurel. The dark-red ribbon was used during a peace time.

img035.jpg.349e30f87d9ae2f772525d3117534img036.jpg.24ecd929d062554abf63fb331e39b

Edited by Frunzich

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As far as I am aware no one has done detailed research on the Merit Medals of Boris III, there will undoubtedly be several variants as they would have been issued over a period of roughly a quarter of century. I suspect boxes or envelopes of issue would give a clue as to the various makers. As to numbers awarded in the various classes they would probably be found in the Bulgarian archives or in the national library where they would have the various gazettes of awards.

Paul

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Hi, paul wood! Thanks for the answer. Yes, it is strange that there are no detailed research works on this one of the most common and well-known Bulgarian medal, but some info can be found in Internet even. I found today the following info: the medal was minted by several manufacturers - for instance, in Bulgaria (by S. Miloshev, Sabev, Odabashian), Germany & Austria (P. Telge, G. Scheid), Switzerland (Huguenin). The amount of gold awards was very few (66 awards till 1940), ~ 2.000-3.000 of silver medals were awarded and ~10.000-15.000 of bronze medals.

Edited by Frunzich

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Useful references on this topic include, among others and perhaps most easily accessible, Denkov's Bulgarian Orders and Medals, [catalog] Sofia, 2001, Pavlov's  Bulgarian Orders and Medals, Sofia, 2002, and Petrov's Bulgarian Orders and Medals, Sofia, 2005.  All three describe and illustrate variants of this award.   These authors cite the same Bulgarian language original sources.  Pavlov and Petrov illustrate a few selected award diplomas as well.   These sources either generally agree with issuance numbers cited by Frunzich or do not comment.  

Gleb Paprikoff of Chicago, U.S.A. prepared a study of this medal and variants in the mid-late 1960's including some images of the medals.  He described, I believe, 3 or 4 types or strikings of Prince Alexander issue, 6-8 Prince Ferdinand strikings, 8 to 12 Tsar Ferdinand dies, 6 to 9 for Tsar Boris, 1 or 2 Regency types, and 4 Republic examples.  I do not have Paprikoff's work -- perhaps someone has a copy?    

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Hi, 922F!

Thanks for the reference list. I heard about books by Todor Petrov and Prof. Petko Pavlov (the last one also published "Hystory of the Bulgarian award system" in several volumes). The catalogues by Veselin Denkov was published in Bulgarian language under the titles "Bulgarian orders, badges and medals" and "Bulgarian orders and medals". Officialy there were, I guess, only 2 types of the medal (Boris III emission) - with or without letter "A" in the word "Bulgaria" (БЪЛГАРИТҌ or БЪЛГРИТҌ). Forum memebrs can post here the images from their collections and we will compare these medals. I have posted my photo above already. Is it possible to define the manufacturer for bronze-class medals (which don't have mintmarks unlike silver-class medals) exactly, I don't know. Perhaps, it is very hard...

 

P.S. By the way, here is the wikipage about Boris III (1894-1943) - one of the most popular and key persons of the Balkan history before and during WW2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_III_of_Bulgaria

 

Edited by Frunzich

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Yes, as for the bronze-class medals of Boris III period (1918-1943) - there were no any signs on them unlike bronze-class medals of Ferdinand I period (Prince/Knyaz in 1887-1908 and, after declaration of the Kingdom of Bulgaria, King/Tsar in 1908-1918). The bronze and silver-class medals of Knyaz Ferdinand's period were signed "A. SCHARFF", for instance [Anton Scharff (1845-1903) was a very famous Austrian medallist].

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As for the ribbon - the Medal for Merit was awarded on dark-red ribbon of Order of St. Alexander during a peace time (the medal was often given not only to army officers but also to officials, doctors, teachers, journalists etc.) and on wartime light-blue ribbon of Order for Bravery with silver stripe along both edges during wars (Balkan wars 1912-1913, WW1 1915-1918, WW2 1941-1945).

Edited by Frunzich

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Interesting, that early issue of the Medal for Merit (Prince/Knyaz Alexander of Battenberg, 1883-1886) was minted with the head of Alexander I facing right. Such medals were signed "SCHWENZER" [Karl Schwenzer (1843-1904) - famous German medallist from Stuttgart). All following issues (Ferdinand I and Boris III periods) were minted with the head facing left.

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Also early medals (from Prince Alexander [1883-1886, who was forced by army officers to abdicate 20.08.1886] and Prince Ferdinand [1887-1908] periods) often had laterally-pierced ball instead of loop for ribbon suspension.

Edited by Frunzich

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So am I right that nobody knows here - is it possible to determine exactly the manufacturer of the Medal for Merit (Boris III period, 1918-1944) above? It could be Bulgarian, German or Austrian manufacturer...

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As mentioned above, due to the large number of bronze merit medals awarded, it's not that easy to determine the manufacturer. The founder of the dynasty, Ferdinand, was a great connoisseur and pedant when it comes to decorations. He was spending great amount of money from both national budget and his liste civile on manufacturing orders and medals. His son on the other hand, was more of a pragmatic type when it comes to this bit. He was using the orders and medal rationally and the spending for their production wasn't as great as before. Several instances confirm that. For example, the medal "For Incentive to Philanthropy" with the effigy of King Ferdinand has been used for decorating throughout the reign of Boris III, probably, due to the large numbers in stock at the Chancellery. Another example is the fact that the effigy of Boris III remains the same on all decorations - Order "For Merit", medals "For Merit' and "For Life-saving", i.e. no updating of the King's effigy even after the birth of the heir to the Throne. And third example could be the so called 'incorrect' emission which you mention above. It's quite wide spread, no matter the spelling error. I assume that the reasons for it to be mass awarded and not scrapped, were purely financial.

Anyhow, the short answer to your question is: No, you cannot determine with certainty who the manufacturer of the medal actually was. You can only imply that it has been minted in Germany, as the majority of the other decorations of that period.

Plus, you are aware that the ribbon on the above image is not genuine, right?

 

PS: Technically, there's only one 'emission' of King Boris III merit medal.

 

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Hello, ilieff! Fortunatelly, the knowledgeable Bulgarian guy is here!

Yes, I read that Ferdinand I (first Tsar of the Third Bulgarian Tsardom) who belonged to German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha dynasty, loved beautiful decorations and luxury while his son, Boris III, preferred very simple and modest lifestyle (also we should take into consideration the weak economy of Bulgaria after WW1 when the country paid great reparations according to the Treaty of  Neuilly).

AFAIK that rare Medal for Science and Art (1883) with the effigy of Ferdinand was used also during the Boris III period. The effigy of young Boris III remained the same in 1918-1943 for Order for Merit, Medal for Merit and Life Saving Medal (the last one is also quite rare) indeed, but this is probably because he was a Tsar during the whole aforementioned period whereas two different effigies of Ferdinand (young and old) on the Medals for Merit corresponded to his Knyaz/Prince (1887-1908) and Tsar/King (1908-1918) periods, royal titles on the medal face changed correspondingly also.

As for the correct red ribbon - I don't know exactly is it original or not (if the condition of a ribbon is good, it is hard to determine this), but anyway seems to be that at least this is not a very new thing. Perhaps, it was repaired some years ago with a read thread. I washed it carefully several times as it was quite dirty in the beginning and the metal hook inside it was of really old style and with age spots. Initially, the medal was bought on another, replaced modern correct red ribbon, but I decided to change it.

P.S. Some sources distinguish two types of the Medal for Merit (Boris III period) - with or without letter "A" we have discussed above.

Regards, Frunzich

Edited by Frunzich

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13 hours ago, Frunzich said:

Hello, ilieff! Fortunatelly, the knowledgeable Bulgarian guy is here!

Yes, I read that Ferdinand I (first Tsar of the Third Bulgarian Tsardom) who belonged to German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha dynasty, loved beautiful decorations and luxury while his son, Boris III, preferred very simple and modest lifestyle (also we should take into consideration the weak economy of Bulgaria after WW1 when the country paid great reparations according to the Treaty of  Neuilly).

AFAIK that rare Medal for Science and Art (1883) with the effigy of Ferdinand was used also during the Boris III period.

Quite possible. The Chancellery did have left over stock of medals with Ferdinand's effigy, so I do believe that decorations may have been performed using old stock available while the new ones are being minted.

The effigy of young Boris III remained the same in 1918-1943 for Order for Merit, Medal for Merit and Life Saving Medal (the last one is also quite rare) indeed, but this is probably because he was a Tsar during the whole aforementioned period whereas two different effigies of Ferdinand (young and old) on the Medals for Merit corresponded to his Knyaz/Prince (1887-1908) and Tsar/King (1908-1918) periods, royal titles on the medal face changed correspondingly also.

Actually, Ferdinand has at least three major issues of the merit medal - two as Prince and one as King. Of these three types, there are loads of variations and even unique examples. In this sense, there's no requirement for the effigy to be changed. King Ferdinand changes his effigy several times (note the other medals). Actually, the point of the effigy on medals and coins was for people to have a recognisable image of their Monarch (as in the Middle ages there were no photograps, facebook, twitter :), so people only had a vague idea of the image of their King), so designs were changed frequently to reflect visual changes. As I said above, my opinion is that Boris III's effigy never changed due to post-war 'common sense'. Having a new effigy engraved costs money and time. Another possibility is that the King simply liked this variant of the effigy.

As for the correct red ribbon - I don't know exactly is it original or not (if the condition of a ribbon is good, it is hard to determine this), but anyway seems to be that at least this is not a very new thing. Perhaps, it was repaired some years ago with a read thread. I washed it carefully several times as it was quite dirty in the beginning and the metal hook inside it was of really old style and with age spots. Initially, the medal was bought on another, replaced modern correct red ribbon, but I decided to change it.

The ribbon on the above image is NOT genuine or at least, it doesn't appear to be genuine from the bad-quality photographs. It's also the wrong way round. I am attaching a sample image from the internet showing a genuine one. Note it also has stichings - it's not a sign of repair, not at all. Additioanlly, the tint of the colour is different - it's crimson, not red.

P.S. Some sources distinguish two types of the Medal for Merit (Boris III period) - with or without letter "A" we have discussed above.

That is correct, but for me this is the same emission and the examples with the missing 'a' can be treated as a variation of the emission, as nothing else has been changed.

Rergards,

 

ribbon.PNG

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On 22 марта 2016 г. at 15:45, ilieff said:

Actually, Ferdinand has at least three major issues of the merit medal - two as Prince and one as King. Of these three types, there are loads of variations and even unique examples. In this sense, there's no requirement for the effigy to be changed. King Ferdinand changes his effigy several times (note the other medals). Actually, the point of the effigy on medals and coins was for people to have a recognisable image of their Monarch (as in the Middle ages there were no photograps, facebook, twitter :), so people only had a vague idea of the image of their King), so designs were changed frequently to reflect visual changes. As I said above, my opinion is that Boris III's effigy never changed due to post-war 'common sense'. Having a new effigy engraved costs money and time. Another possibility is that the King simply liked this variant of the effigy.

Yes, there were several variations of the Medal for Merit of Ferdinand's period. But the majority of sources mention only two MAIN types - with effigy of Ferdinand as Knyaz/Prince (medium age, without beard) and with effigy of Ferdinand as Tsar/King (relatively old age, with beard).

 

http://www.medal-medaille.com/royal-medal-merit-bronze-ferdinand-knyaz-princely-issue-1887-1908-showing-young-ferdinand-p-2152.html (Knyaz/Prince, 1887-1908)

http://www.medal-medaille.com/royal-medal-merit-bronze-ferdinand-p-2172.html (Tsar/King, 1908-1918)

 

Tsar Boris III (ruled in 1918-1943) was against mintage of coins with his effigy even! The first coins with his effigy (20, 50 and 100 leva) appeared in 1930 only. Nevertheless, the effigy on 50 and 100 leva coins was changed a little bit in 1934;). I have all these silver coins in my collection, too.

Edited by Frunzich

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Can you please quote which sources you have in mind?

It's official that there's a short-lived first princely Ferdinand edition of the merit medal. It depicts the Monarch as a very young man (without beard) and features a tubular loop on the top of the medal. Photograph attached (can't remember the original source of the image).

The two links you posted above point to two medals of the same issue (2nd princely issue), both with modern replica ribbons.

 

 

 

4e7d109f_bgmermedbrprferdohook.jpg

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4 hours ago, ilieff said:

It's official that there's a short-lived first princely Ferdinand edition of the merit medal. It depicts the Monarch as a very young man (without beard) and features a tubular loop on the top of the medal. Photograph attached (can't remember the original source of the image).

The two links you posted above point to two medals of the same issue (2nd princely issue), both with modern replica ribbons.

 

 

Yes, I know that two medals above are of the same issue (it is written there, 2nd issue, 1900), but Ferdinand's effigies are quite different (, click on the corresponding images to zoom them. How to explain this?

 

 

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I cannot see what you're trying to prove here. Are you trying to say that the so called 2nd Ferdinand emission should actually be divided into two or more?

The emission stands for any major modification of the appearance of the medal. The two medals which you're pointing out are simply different examples of the same issue (one of them obviously repaired/amended). Medals (especially this and the next emission) and orders have been manufactured in multiple batches by different jewellers across Europe - from Austro-Hungary, to France, down to the smallest Germanic states. It's normal for these to differ in terms of material, quality, markings, signatures etc.

I think the topic is 'resolved' already.

PS: You failed to mention your sources of info.

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I don't want to prove smth here and never try to say smth (always - just say after study the material:P), I would like to collect as much correct info about this medal as possible, perhaps, with your friendly help also. And I have noticed two quite different effigies (shaven and unshaven faces;)) of the Knyaz Ferdinand among the medals of the 2nd emission. Hard to say that this is only because of different manufacturers...

As for the one of the online sources (besides excellent medal-medaille.com and several others, investigate medals.org.uk for this), quite good for this case is Wiki. 

https://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orders,_decorations,_and_medals_of_Bulgaria - here just two variants with Ferdinand (Knyaz and Tsar) are mentioned. 

http://www.medals.org.uk/bulgaria/bulgaria-links.htm - note the red (not crimson as you mentioned above) ribbons of the Medal for Merit in the pages by Antonio Barrio and Lukasz Gaszewski!

 

P.S. Ilief, you should mention your Internet sources also, specially if you post images here (for copyright reason, at least).

Edited by Frunzich

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Right, from top to bottom.

I am saying (again) that what appears to you as 'shaven' Prince Ferdinand is just a matter of loss of the details of the medal or poor manufacture in the first place. The matrix used to stamp the medals tend to lose their details after a certain amount of pressings. The beard on these medals is only visible in well preserved medals, due to its structure. Plus, who'd order a new effigy just to show their new humble beard and leave all the other details pretty much the same?

I don't know what's excellent about the webpage you're quoting but if you feel like so, let it be. The links you posted above lead to partially true/partially incorrect info. Probably that's why is the confusion.

I don't use the internet as a reliable source of information. People tend to write various things, so I stick to books instead. There authors research the topics for years beforehand. There have been a few nice books published, including in English, on this topic. I believe they can be ordered online too. I actually have the Pavlov's catalogue for sale now - that's an extremely rare piece.

And I don't know why you keep iterating the topic about the colour. The medal uses the ribbon of the Alexander order and practically 90% of the Alexander orders of that time have crimsonish ribbons.

I am attaching an Easter present for you - A ribbon chart I made (so no copyrights here, I guess).

Regards,

chart.jpg

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