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Alpha Draconis

Bulgarian St Alexander Grand Cross badge?

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Hello Gents

I have a question for you, is this St Alexander badge Grand Cross or 1st class Cross? I know that the Grand Cross was introduced in early 20th century, but I don't know does this one belong to early Order 1st class or later Grand Cross Order? Austrian Rothe manufacture in silver, 5,4cm wide(not 5,5cm) and 10,8cm long without the suspension loop.

Thanks in advance!

Regards, Joseph

Bulgarian st Alexander grand cross badge.jpg

Bulgarian st Alexander grand cross badge1.jpg

Bulgarian st Alexander grand cross badge2.jpg

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Hi Joseph,

Short answer: This cannot be determined, unless you trace back the original document/story or at least a date of decoration.

Long answer: It's a bit like the Schrödinger's cat paradox - the cross is currently both a Grand cross and 1st Class and you wouldn't be able to tell, unless you find solid evidence of it being either of the two. We had a discussion about this earlier this year when some people considered that the two grades are completely different (and they are to some extent) but after the so called introduction of the Grand cross, the size and appearance remained the same, thus, the only difference between the pre- and post-conversion orders was simply the wording used to describe them. Of course, there was this new green 1st class which was introduced but it wasn't meant to be a substitution for the old 1st class. My personal opinion is that the old 1st class (white) ranks above the new 1st class (green) and perhaps equal or near-to-equal to the new Grand cross (if they can be matched at all).  In addition, I believe that people of the late XIX century had the same dilemma, as in official documents, we can see the top grade of the order being described as both 'I class' and 'Grand croix' on different occasions - just to add to the confusion.

Personal opinion: You can call it Grand cross/I class, if that's acceptable for you. At the end of the day, the main thing which matters is the fact that regardless of the exact time of decoration,  it was the top grade of the order at the time.  

 

Ilieff

 

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Dear Joseph

As Ilief stated earlier it could be both the grandcross or the first class of the order, As long as there is no award document with it we can't be sure. We are only sure of one thing, that this piece is a true work of art. I especially admire the detail in the crown, with the small pieces of green,white and red. Truly a wonderfull piece in great condition

Kind regards, Laurentius

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Hello Ilieff and Laurentius,

Thank you for your replies and for your knowledge! I assumed that this would be the case with this Order, but I hoped it could be identified by some detail, like manufacturer or because it is not gilded or something else...

I had this beauty some time and I didn't mind that I don't know what class it is, but now is the time for me to part from this order, and I wanted to give a next owner a clear ID on this piece. And it is in great overall condition! I agree with you Laurentius, the details in the crown are amazing!! I had in my hands most of the Imperial Russian, Serbian, Romanian, etc orders, but the manufacture of Bulgarian crown is the most beautiful work of all!!! Here are few closeups of the crown.

One more question for you guys: Does it matter or does it makes any difference if this order is 5,4 cm wide, not 5,5 cm as most of the same class orders? Are all of Rothe orders 5,4 cm wide or they have just spared material on this one? :speechless:

Btw, what is the size of the Collar of St Alexander badge?? I have heard that it is 6,1 cm wide, but I'm not sure if I'm right.

Best regards

Joseph

 

Bulgarian st Alexander grand cross badge9.jpg

Bulgarian st Alexander grand cross badge5.jpg

Bulgarian st Alexander grand cross badge8.jpg

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Hi,

I don't think it really matters whether it's 54, 55 or 56 mm, as long at it's not more or less than that. I think there have been samples of 56mm in size too. It has to do with the fact that sometimes a) the hand-crafting/polishing/gilding takes more material off the base of the cross, thus the size decreases or inscreased; OR b) people who measure these did not use well-calibrated tools, thus the result is slightly off (nothing personal here).

As for the Collar - I don't think the badge differs. It should be a generic GrandCross/I class badge just attached to a chain instead. Please correct me if I am wrong.

And by the way, the central medallion of the obverse is rotated 180 (or so) degrees. If you feel confident enough, you can try to rotate it to its correct position.

Thanks

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23 hours ago, ilieff said:

Short answer: This cannot be determined, unless you trace back the original document/story or at least a date of decoration.

Personal opinion: You can call it Grand cross/I class, if that's acceptable for you. At the end of the day, the main thing which matters is the fact that regardless of the exact time of decoration,  it was the top grade of the order at the time.  

I am not sure what you mean by saying this is both 1st and Grand class.

Looking at the Tsar crown - the cross is from 1908 and after, when 1st class with green enamel was introduced.  White cross before 1908 had Knyaz crown and that was 1st class then.

There was no Grand Cross before 1908.

Therefore this 1908 cross in question is higher class - it's Grand cross. 

 

Edited by new world

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4 hours ago, new world said:

I am not sure what you mean by saying this is both 1st and Grand class.

Looking at the Tsar crown - the cross is from 1908 and after, when 1st class with green enamel was introduced.  White cross before 1908 had Knyaz crown and that was 1st class then.

There was no Grand Cross before 1908.

Therefore this 1908 cross in question is higher class - it's Grand cross. 

Hi new world,

The introduction of the flat-top crown after the Independence of 1908 is a myth. 'Tsar' crown, as some call it, have been around for quite some time before 1908 and the proclamation of the Tsardom/Kingdom is (should) only used as a very general milestone in the history of the order. Here are a couple of images which prove that flat-top crowns were used well before this:

  • The Princess-consort wearing a diamond order with new type of crown (dated 1893)
  • Gen. Markov wearing a 2nd/3rd class with new type of crown on the very date of the proclamation of the Independence 

There are also images of other people wearing such orders well before 1908.

 

My second point: I do not want to prove that there was a grand cross prior to 1908/1909 - I am just pointing out that the terms 1 class and grand cross were being used interchangeably (both officially and unofficially) ever since the foundation of the order - by the way, this is proven by a thread you posted last month - the Statute of the Order from 1896 where it clearly says "1 classe = Grand 'Croix". 

Thanks,

Ilieff

 

 

14053857526_6e967c9f16_o.jpg

Tzar_Ferdinand_at_proclamation_of_Bulgarian-independence.jpg

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Hi Alpha Draconias,

 

Can you measure the arms of the Cross in a horizontal line for ex. upper poiint of the left to upper point of the right arm  I have the feeling that the Cross might be Commander and the size you gave is measured at diagonal then you have 54 mm if is horizontal 50-51 mm it is Commander The decorations are always measured in horizontal line

Here are pictures of Commander measured two ways

right way -horizontal line 50 mm

wrong way diagonal line -54 mm

If your cross is 54 mm in horizontal line it is Grand Cross  if it is 50 mm it is Commander/2nd Class Cross with missing ribbon loop

Both New World and the Ilieff are right

Although this Cross officially is a King Ferdinand (if the size is correct) is Grand Cross, however there are  reports suggesting that the King Crown was used even before 1908 and it is speculated that this might have happened after the Order for Military Merit was introduced in 1900 (this order never had princely crown as the other Orders) and its crown form was used In my opinion as,Ilieff stated it is difficult to draw a firm line

 

Best

 

Graf

 

 

001.JPG

002.JPG

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11 hours ago, ilieff said:

Hi new world,

The introduction of the flat-top crown after the Independence of 1908 is a myth. 'Tsar' crown, as some call it, have been around for quite some time before 1908 and the proclamation of the Tsardom/Kingdom is (should) only used as a very general milestone in the history of the order. Here are a couple of images which prove that flat-top crowns were used well before this:

  • The Princess-consort wearing a diamond order with new type of crown (dated 1893)
  • Gen. Markov wearing a 2nd/3rd class with new type of crown on the very date of the proclamation of the Independence 

There are also images of other people wearing such orders well before 1908.

...

Thanks,

Ilieff

This is very interesting indeed! Do you have more photos showing Tsar crown on awards before 1908?

While these are real cases, I believe these were rather exceptions than common practice. From two examples of yours we see top ranking and wealthy people wearing such type of crown (Princess for sure - she could get whatever she wanted, and top General to some extend). These could be privately made examples, where owners of the awards specifically ordered such type of crown, perhaps even driven by fashion and  desire to look different.

I am convinced that majority of St Alexander awards followed 1908 separation milestone, when the change of the crown took place.

11 hours ago, ilieff said:

My second point: I do not want to prove that there was a grand cross prior to 1908/1909 - I am just pointing out that the terms 1 class and grand cross were being used interchangeably (both officially and unofficially) ever since the foundation of the order - by the way, this is proven by a thread you posted last month - the Statute of the Order from 1896 where it clearly says "1 classe = Grand 'Croix". 

Quite the opposite, that Statute proves there was no Grand Cross before 1908.

It clearly states that there were only 5 classes, starting from the 1st and through the 5th. There is no Grand Cross class, it was officially added only in 1908.

People tend to be confused by semantics of the names, such as Big Cross (1st class) or Big Officer (2nd class). If you read carefully in Paragraph 4, there is no separate Grand Cross class in the statute from 1896. 

Edited by new world

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Hello Gents

Thank you for your contribution on this topic, it is very interesting indeed.

Graf, your question is in place, but I gave a good dimension, 5,4cm wide, and 6cm diagonally, so it makes it bigger version.

Ilieff, you have a keen eye for details, only when you pointed out that the center medallion is reversed, I have gently corrected the problem:beer:

Btw. I forgot to congratulate you on a great site regarding Bulgarian orders! It's great!!

Now for the conclusion, what the New World is asking is question what I started this thread in the first place. Is there an option that majority of those orders are post 1908, thus Grand Cross? I understand what Illieff had said that it is all the same whether the order is Grand Cross post 1908 or 1st class Cross pre 1908 it was the highest st. Alex, except of course Collar decoration!!!

About the Collar badge size I don't know the right dimension, just assumed I have heard it somewhere. Ilieff, dig up this info and update your site regarding Collar decoration info.

Best regards to all of you!

Alpha

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Hi

Here is an example of a Grand Cross of the Order of Civil merit The French can call it Hybrid.

The body is the 1st type of the Princely Model with hand made back of the oak leaves, while the crown is from the is from the 1908 Model -Tzar or King Type.

Prof. Pavlov in his book has mentioned that this Crosses appear as early as 1900 after the Order for Military merit was introduced.

I agree with New World on the second point Once the 1st Class with Green enamel was introduced the Grand Cross was introduced as well in 1908 We have to keep it this way for the sake of the simplicity It does not mean tha some could have used in the past both names

987d3f9a7571e9c6501e026853b3b031.jpg

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Hi

That is a good news Then Consider it as Grand Cross Meanwhile i looked the Cross and has features of a Grand Cross and also the length you gave is typical of a Grand Cross YJust wanted to make sure that is the correct Cross Congrats.

 

Regarding the Collar -there are two of the Big and Small The big one had a cross 55 mm wide while the small Collar had a Cross  51 mm wide

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39 minutes ago, Graf said:

Hi

Here is an example of a Grand Cross of the Order of Civil merit The French can call it Hybrid.

The body is the 1st type of the Princely Model with hand made back of the oak leaves, while the crown is from the is from the 1908 Model -Tzar or King Type.

Prof. Pavlov in his book has mentioned that this Crosses appear as early as 1900 after the Order for Military merit was introduced.

I agree with New World on the second point Once the 1st Class with Green enamel was introduced the Grand Cross was introduced as well in 1908 We have to keep it this way for the sake of the simplicity It does not mean tha some could have used in the past both names

987d3f9a7571e9c6501e026853b3b031.jpg

Nice example!

Some authors of books on Bulgarian awards call these transitional crosses, which were made following change of the crown design. Supposedly these were manufactured by using previously made incomplete early cross bases and combining them with new style crowns. 

Same firm Shwerdtner was making both Knyaz (for Civil Merit awards) and Tsar (for Military Merit awards) crowns during the same period in late 1800s and first decade of 1900s.

The are quite rare!

Edited by new world

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Guys, I think there's no disagreement here. I did say that 'there was no Grand Cross class before the Independence' - I merely tried to point out that often the term 'Grand cross' was being misused for the 1st class even by officials and especially by foreigners (westerners in particular) for whom any decoration worn on a sash over the shoulder was a Grand Cross/Grand Cordon. I believe that this might be the main reason for the introduction of the Grand cross - the attempt to modernize and align the decorations system with the European (i.e. not Russian) standards and not the newly declared Independence.  

In regard to the change of the crown - Prince Romanoff even points out that the change was initiated in 1891 (assuming he means the 1st change in the Civil merit order). In the period of 1891-1910 there has been a number of changes in the design of the crown and perhaps in this transitional period there were also limited numbers of the new style crows being awarded with the Alexander order, too. Certainly the higher classes were, at least. However, this contradicts the general understanding that these were only awarded after 1908.

Here's an image of 1907. The bishop on the left wears a (what appears to be) generic non-jewelled grand officer cross with flat top crown. I haven't been searching for such images in particular but I will try to find some more because it's an interesting topic.

Lastly, about the size of the collar badge - not too sure which of the info I read is correct, but I assume that perhaps none of it was, as the quoted numbers varied from 39 to 55 mm. My understanding is that the necklace was given in addition to a Grand Cross/ I class badge, so it makes sense (just like other orders) to have a similar badge attached to it (i.e. 55mm).  

Thanks

5420.jpg

Edited by ilieff

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Hello Ilieff

Thank you for extra effort, you have shown some nice photos.

So, in general, we can conclude that this is 90% Grand Cross and 10% chance to be 1st class Order. Is there a record of how many of Grand Crossrs were bestowed?

One more question for you Gents: does it matter in any way that some of these orders were gilted and some were not in the same period? For example Serbian st Sava order and White eagle order differ from class 4 to class 5 by the gilt.

Best regards

Alpha

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Guys just wondering how the hell the ranking for the order works? I’m aware that it was redesigned and that the 1st class badge is now green enamel but how about classes 2-6? Are those badges still white enamel? Or are they now green? 

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16 hours ago, Alpha Draconis said:

One more question for you Gents: does it matter in any way that some of these orders were gilted and some were not in the same period? For example Serbian st Sava order and White eagle order differ from class 4 to class 5 by the gilt.

Your cross should have been gilded, too. I assume the golden layer has worn off with time. All classes except 5th and 6th had gilt.

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Thanks Ilieff, this one doesn't have any trace of gold, so I assumed that it was originally just silver...

Now Gents, I would like to sell this badge, but I don't know the price of this order, I got it in a big trade several years ago, so I never knew it's real price. What would be aprox. current price for this order?

Any info is welcome!

Regards

Alpha

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Hello Gents

Since no one has an opinion on today market value of this order I decided to make an auction on ebay and find out a real value. Gents, you have helped me a lot to determine the class of this badge, so the next happy owner knows what he/she has bought. 

With respect

Joseph

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Hi Alpha Draconis,

 

The price is what the market is willing to pay at this point. All Catalogues  are only guide lines

I have seen over the years very "expensive " items sold very cheap and vice versa seemingly not important items sold for a small fortune

I suspect you did buy the Cross on a very good price and now you are selling it to make few $$$ It is OK in the real world ......or your main interest is not Bulgarian Orders otherwise you will keep it

 

Good Luck

 

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Hi all,

I hope it's not too off-topic but I wanted to contribute a little bit more to the discussion about crown variations...

I came across this interesting letter (unfortunately, only a screengrab, as it was part of a video) which has been sent to prime-minister Stambolov, asking him to approve the new design of the 100 Leva gold coin. In the letter the unknown bureaucrat complains that the Prince (Ferdinand I) has 'yet again changed the shape of the crown'.

He writes: 'Two years ago, it used to be like so [first icon from the letter], then it became [second icon], later it changed to [third icon] and now it's [fourth icon]' [...] and then gives some further details.

This is a fairly informal letter and not directly linked to phaleristics, but it clearly shows that the frequent experiments with the appearance of the Bulgarian crown which have been initiated about 1890 and, for a brief period, there have been many iterations, most of which (if not all) have been directly influenced by the Monarch. 

And just for visual reference, here's the final result of the 1894 golden coin:

http://www.bulgariancoins.com/re_BGCoinImages/1262963593_1894100LevaObverse.jpg

 

Regards,

Ilieff

 

Untitled-1.png

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Hello Graf

Thank you for your post. I got this order in a lot 3 years, or so, ago and I never knew it's real value, but didn't care because I kept it regardles I'm not a Bulgaria decorations collector, I admired its craftmanship and age. But now the time has come to part with it and I couldn't find anywhere what class this is so I don't lie to potential buyer. And you are right, the market will tell its real value.

Ilieff

That's nice example of crown variations, and no wonder that lots of us are confused with so many different models, but after all, the diversity of them makes collecting even more interesting!

Best regards

Joseph

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On 11/29/2017 at 12:38, ilieff said:

Hi all,

I hope it's not too off-topic but I wanted to contribute a little bit more to the discussion about crown variations...

I came across this interesting letter (unfortunately, only a screengrab, as it was part of a video) which has been sent to prime-minister Stambolov, asking him to approve the new design of the 100 Leva gold coin. In the letter the unknown bureaucrat complains that the Prince (Ferdinand I) has 'yet again changed the shape of the crown'.

He writes: 'Two years ago, it used to be like so [first icon from the letter], then it became [second icon], later it changed to [third icon] and now it's [fourth icon]' [...] and then gives some further details.

This is a fairly informal letter and not directly linked to phaleristics, but it clearly shows that the frequent experiments with the appearance of the Bulgarian crown which have been initiated about 1890 and, for a brief period, there have been many iterations, most of which (if not all) have been directly influenced by the Monarch. 

And just for visual reference, here's the final result of the 1894 golden coin:

http://www.bulgariancoins.com/re_BGCoinImages/1262963593_1894100LevaObverse.jpg

 

Regards,

Ilieff

 

Untitled-1.png

So, keeping in mind this letter, what period crown is this crown on the case?

It looks like 2nd crown he's referring to...

SA_1cl_GrdCr_2.jpg

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This is probably one of many variations in the 1890-1892 period (the rounded top one, designed by Von Rosenfeld). However, the font on the case suggests a later period.

Keep in mind that the person who wrote and illustrated the letter is probably not a professional when it comes to heraldry and phaleristics and his sketches should not be taken for 100% accurate depiction. 

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