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Bulgarian Bravery order - early Austrian made

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I saw couple interesting cased Bravery awards sold in these special boxes, marked by Schwerdtner, Wien. Boxes are covered with leather, are brown in color (unlike other Bravery boxes).

These are supposedly late Alexander or early Prince Ferdinand awards.

Not sure if the crosses belong to the boxes though.

What do you think?

 

Here's 4th class award

 

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3rd class award

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ID: 2   Posted (edited)

Hi New World,

The boxes are as you suggested Prince Alexander./early Prince Ferdinand period

It is speculated that, although most of the Bulgaria Order for Bravery during Prince Alexander period,were made in Russia, that in the later stages of his realm some of the decorations were made in Austria, mainly by the Austrian firm Schwerdtner.

It is very likely that the boxes could be for the earlier models, however also some left over boxes could be supplied with the later model

Prof Pavlov in his book is showing such a box to be for the  early Prince Model.-page 17 see picture

 

I am proud owner of two of such boxes including the one with the violet velvet.

Interesting fact is that they are different in size, which makes me think that the smaller size is for a lower grade Order like 4th Class, although i am housing in it  the early model of Real Silver Soldier's Cross, and the bigger one is for the 3rd Class

Also those boxes are with push buttons locks

Here are the boxes next to each other

 

Also the boxes compared with the later model boxes for 3/4 Class Orders

 

Graf

 

 

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Edited by Graf

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You've got the same boxes, but in much better condition!

I checked Pavlov's book - he just has a photo of the box and does not say anything about it. Based on the fact that he put the box in section for Bravery with gold circle we can make conclusion that awards in my 1st post don't belong to these boxes. It looks like the sellers misinform us.

Also, the fact that these early crosses were made by Schwerdtner is significant discovery - Pavlov does not say so, he also does not show photo of the stamp inside of the box.

 

 

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Hi New World

We all witness that decorations come in any box type

It is harsh to blame the sellers that they are misleading us

Simply some of them do not have a very sound knowledge of the Bulgarian decorations and they sell wht the get from somewhere else

 

Also we can assume that some of the makers used the left over boxes ..no need to get rid of them

 

i believe that the same apply for the Decorations as well, therefore it is very difficult to draw clear cut line for the different periods and models.

Also Prof Pavlov book, despite of being one of the best so far, has its own weaknesses.

He was based on the information know by that time and the personal knowledge of prof. Pavlov.

The Bravery Order with the "fat crown" is believed to be made by left overs of the early Princely model and the central medallions were replaced in accordance with the new model

Because the 1915 Bravery Order I have with the "fat crown" is marked with asterisk or Sterhenpunze it is a fact that the Austrian makers were involved in the very early stages alongside the Russian makers

 

Also the boxes are some kind of proof

We also with our Detective work make new discoveries regarding the Bulgarian Decorations

 

Best

 

Graf

 

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Graf, wide crown in your last pick looks like it's sterling silver Are you sure it's brass?

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Hi New world

 

It is a brass/bronze and the asterisk mark is quite clear on the ribbon loop

Interestingly it looks like silver on the picures

 

Here is one more picture at different angle you can see on the ball just under the cross the gilding is worn off and the brass/bronze is showing off Plus the asterisk on the loop

 

Graf

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Hi Graf,

Interesting theory about the fat crown.

It is difficult to be sure tough, as there are multiple type of crowns, used for it, which differs from one another, as the orders themselfs.

Perhaps it is due to the different manifacturer (Russian or Austrian)? Sorry for the bad quality, I took the picture in the museum and the light is not OK.

What I find as well really interesting is the last one to the right: it is exactly like a 7 dots emission, the only difference is the golden circle....

Actually, do someone knows a little more about those early "Battenberg" 3rd class emissions?

 

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And another unique piece that I found the picture of in Google. Don't even know where it comes from but I haven't seen it in the books.

It's exactly like the "big lilly" 4 grade but it's 3rd. Don't know if soimeone have seen it or have some info about it....

Best regards,

Vazov

 

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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

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ID: 9   Posted (edited)

This 3rd Class was sold couple of years ago in Germany and again re-sold on a recent Auction in Austria.

It was advertised as Austrian made silver gilded The crown is the same as the first Class Cross of the early Prince Ferdinand model made in Austria 1887-1908

Although Prof Pavlov did not specify in his book that there were two princely periods Prince Alexander and Prince Ferdinand , he mentioned that some of the early period Bravery Orders were also made in Austria not only in Russia.He also  mentions two different types of central medallions gold and green for the high classes

Some other Authors separate the periods more clearly

1st princely period -Prince Alexander Battenberg period (1880-1886 )  This period includes he model with the gold Rings -made in Russia and the Model with skulls

The Prince Ferdinand period (1887-1914) Model which features the early pieces with the green enamel, also shown in Prof.Pavlov book

It is very difficult to identify the 4th class different variations, which ones are earlier then the others One is for sure that some of the variations are much rarer then the others because of their specific features and their numbers on the market

I think we will find more facts regarding Bulgarian Orders Although some of the books were very good they reflect the knowledge obtained by the authors during their publishing We are also part of the obtaining additional knowledge by our research work

 

Graf

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Edited by Graf

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Hi Graf & Ilieff,

You are perfectly right. I think that together, we have "discovered" a sub-emission of the following pieces, which are obviously different from the others.

It'd be curious to understand if they are late Battenberg or early Ferdinand ones.

By the way, I am looking for this 4 grade for my collection, which unfortunately I missed once because I was too slow, so if someone come across it, please let me know!

Best,

Vazov

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Hi Vazov,

Yes We and other like us more or less more exited from collecting, are discovering new things that are not covered by the current literature.

It is difficult to classify those Crosses as sub-emission it is more proper to give them the name unknown till mow variation of the princely emission Also it is difficult to identify exactly the time of their fabrication

 

I will keep an eye for this 4th Class variation and i will let you know

 

Graf

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ID: 12   Posted (edited)

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.

 

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Edited by ilieff

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Very cool document!!!

It's interesting how the award is called Military Order in the document, not Bravery Order.

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Hi Ilieff,

Many thanks for this great analysis ! I find especially impressive and perfectly logical the last part regarding the need of bravery orders after the Serbo-Bulgarian war and the suspended relations with Russia. This demostrates that we should be focused on the historical conjuncture as well, when developing our suggestions  about the orders and putting them in the right context.

Meanwhile I have continued our research and found another early piece that differs from the "mainstream" examples.

Apparently it was sold some years ago by a Bulgarian dealer that seems no longer be involved, but sold an extraordinary quantity of orders, amongst which a lot of rare pieces (as visible on his site).

This given piece has a "thick crown" like the Battenberg 3rd grades or the 3 grade from 1915 with И on the reverse. Personally, I've never seen such crown on a 2 or 1 grade badge. There are also differences in the central medallion.

As you can see, the sellers' site claims it was reworded during a visit of the Russian emperor in 1902 and a memorial opening. The information is not correct. There is an opening on the occasion of an anniversary of the war, but of a church and not a memorial. Besides the Russian emperor is not attending, but his officials are sent on his behalf.

Are these mismatches in the context compromising as well the information about the order, I don't know. But it's a very interesting early  piece. Have anyone seen it before? Do we have some additional information?

Best,

Vazov

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hi Vazov,

I remember this dealer, he was active about 15 years ago.

I would not put too much trust into his stories. My impression of him was that he used to exaggerate a lot. According to his descriptions almost every item he was selling was super rare and unique opportunity for a collector.

I have to admit - he sold some nice and rarer items, but not every item on his site was unique as he was trying to represent.

 

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Hi Vazov,

 

Most of the "old' collectors of Bulgarian Orders are familiar with this Dealer,

 He is still active, however, for some reasons he is not selling many Military decorations now days .

Yous finding, for the events are quite correct. I like your eagerness to explore new things.

We all did the same when we started collecting  Good on you.

I agree with New World, that this dealer liked to make up stories regarding the items he sold. Despite that he had good items and the site is a good for reference ignoring some of the information in the text.

Also some serious collectors have doubts about the originality  of some of the items, especially the medals and badges sold on this site

The 2nd Class Bravery Order "discovered' by you is really nice and looks very similar to the Cross from a 1st Class Set sold few years ago on 173 Kuenker Auction. The small difference in the crown form, can be explained that those Classes were made in small numbers and the makers used the parts available for the time of making the awards.

Here is a picture of someone's collection shown in a exhibition in Sweden. It is unknown to me collector

 

 

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Hi New World,

 

i think in the very early stages the Order for Bravery was called Military Order.

 

i suspect once the Order for Military Merit was introduced the Order for Bravery  was called Military Order for Bravery  not to be confused with the new Military Order

as you can see during Battennberg period was called also Military Order only

for the first time you can see from the last pictures, from King Ferdinand period, was called Military Order for Bravery

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