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  1. Prime-minister Kyoseivanov, wearing [presumably] that very same 1st class set. Original photo was taken in early October, 1937. This is indeed the year which the 'flat reverse' orders are mostly associated with.
  2. You're right. However, I am not comparing crosses of different classes to each other, per se, but rather the cross we are discussing with the two possible classes in separate images. The intention of the comparison was to compare the crosses when scaled to the size of the two possible variants, hence I uploaded two images and not one. If we are to set the initial scale of the crosses of a single grade to be of identical diameter within a given image, then proportions will remain the same (with the disclaimer i note above, of course). The second image compares the cross to a grand officer's and commander crosses, again scaled to fit the size of the cross we are discussing. If it was indeed a 2nd class cross, with the diameters of the crosses set to scale, all the remaining features will be to scale, as well. Either way, the chances of someone acquiring a lone 2nd class cross with swords and 'marrying' it to an orphaned grand cross star (again with swords), only to then manufacture a replica box for the new 'set', is highly unlikely, in my opinion. I believe this is caused by the slight tilt of the cross in the image with white background. Either way, it is all speculation
  3. Here's a visual comparison between this cross (white background) and other examples of grand and commander crosses (black background). I drew some horizontal lines to make it easier to see the ratios. A couple of things to keep in mind: all the crosses were visually fit to size based on the diameter of the arms (hence, this is a broad assumption that: a/ all images were taken 'straight on' and ignoring the inevitable tiling of the camera; b/ the original manufacturers kept the sizes of the crosses the same) Hope it helps.
  4. Hi new world, I do not see anything wrong with the order itself - looks like a decent grant cross set, minus the sash, as you already mentioned. The loops you are referring to are not necessarily exclusive to 2nd/3rd class crosses - I believe that the majority of late Boris III high class issues I've seen, actually feature such loop. Similar is the case with SS Cyril and Methodius grand crosses. The crown/cross ratio appears to be fine to me. Later I will try to create a side-by-side visual comparison, for reference later today. The only odd thing is the immaculate condition of the box. Then again, we don't know where it was kept al those years (assuming it's genuine, of course) - this could be one of those awards which were left with their paper sleeve on in a bank vault for decades (though, this contradicts with the missing sash?)
  5. Hi, Would it be possible if you post the original images, rather than the 'enhanced'/colourised versions, please? Also, would be nice to see a zoomed-in snips of the inscriptions
  6. Yes, I believe that both gilded and enamelled rings were being used for decoration in this initial period, though I cannot really say whether this had any symbolic meaning or whether it was simply a matter or availability of stock. Among the first people to be decorated with the order were Nikola Genev, Olimpiy Panov, Atanas Uzunov etc. but they were given the 4th class, so we cannot really judge by photographs of them. Captain Danail Nikolaev is the first Bulgarian to have been decorated with the 3rd class badge in April 1880. His badge, as seen on later photographs, has a gilded ring (probably, from the first batch which was produced in St.Petersburg). Just after the end of the war with Serbia, in early 1886, he is again decorated, this time with the second class badge, also with gilded ring. Strangely enough, I was matching two photos of him, taken in different time periods and on one of them, the 2nd class badge appears as if it's enamelled, rather than gilded. I attached a photo comparison for you. At the current point though, I am dismissing this as simply a bad exposure of the film (yellow/gold colour has a tendency to appear as dark, near black on old black and white photos. Another decoration with the 2nd class badge in 1886 was bestowed upon major Racho Petrov who also displays a 'gilded ring' order on later photographs. Now, in contradiction to the above, during the so called Bulgarian crisis in 1886-1887, all three regents, Stambolov, Mutkurov and Zhivkov, assume/self-award themselves the 1st class set of the order, as heads of state. The rings of their badges appear to be enamelled in green, rather than gilded. The Serbian Monarch, Milan, is also awarded the 1st class set shortly after the establishment of the order. On a single photograph, in which he is wearing a bar which includes a bravery order, it appears that it's enamelled, i.e. green. Other people who are also awarded with the 1st class set between 1880 and 1884 are the Romanian King Carol and Russian Emperor Alexander III - if anyone is able to find photographs of them wearing the Bravery order, we can draw some further conclusions. Further to the above, I came across this image of young prince Alexander in cavalry uniform. I don't want to draw premature conclusions, but if the order in the picture is enamelled in green and we take lack of beard as indication that the photo was taken between 1880 and 1883, then this is the earliest photograph, depicting a 1st class 'green' set of the order, as of yet. Then again, the image itself isn't clear enough to say for sure and the above-mentioned exposure defects might actually produce deceptive results. More research is needed... Vazov, I actually have a slightly better quality copy of this portrait of the Prince and I've zoomed in multiple times in an attempt to see the emission of the badge. Unfortunately, nothing is visible on the lower part of the ring and even though my assumption is the same as yours (7-dots issue) we cannot fully dismiss the possibility of it being something else (perhaps even 3-dots).
  7. My humble opinion is that the skulls and bones do not represent masonic symbols in this particular case but rather the symbolism of the Totenkopf and what the Germanic people of the 19th century (and earlier) make of it in its military sense (not to be confused with the later Nazi symbol of the SS). As a side note, the same symbol was used by various armies through the centuries and some still do to this very day. I don't share your opinion regarding the highest class of the order - I think that the Grand cross badge has been used on multiple occasions - there are several images and paintings confirming its usage on regular basis. Prince Alexander was wearing the sash on official ceremonies, as per protocol. He also kept his orders after the abdication and even had a portrait of himself painted where he appears in full parade Bulgarian generals' uniform and wearing the Grand cross (though without the skulls and crossed bones). Prince Ferdinand, being quite pedantic about wearing his orders, also wore the sash whenever he was performing military inspections and manoeuvres, opening the annual sessions of Parliament, St George's day etc. Naturally, after 1909 the Grand cross of the Order for Bravery was used less and less (since the introduction of a higher order in 1909). King Ferdinand was occasionally putting it on even after His abdication - just for photoshoots and the rare official occasions (e.g. the wedding of King Boris in 1930). The first two images Vazov posted above should be those of the 1st class set which was presented to Kaiser Wilhelm II during WW1. These were essentially the same overall-looking set as the one King Ferdinand had. The minor differences are in the central medallion (By the way, note the shape and position of the lion's tail - it's the same as that of the lion, found on the Samara flag top. Possible clue, perhaps.
  8. Great find! These images give answers to two questions at a time - who might have been the manufacturer and what the cases looked like. Thanks
  9. Vazov! Thanks for tagging me - otherwise I wouldn't have seen this thread, as I only check 'Central European States' section. Why in this section? Has there been a change I am not aware of? Congrats on spotting this. The few times when the Samara flag top has been displayed in the National military history museum, it has always been positioned with the reverse* facing upwards, so people were unable to see which emission the order actually belongs to. It is very curious indeed. My opinion remains unchanged though - I still believe that three stars is an interwar emission of the order and that the ring on this order has been changed at some point, though it makes little sense to do so, especially for a (literal) piece of history like this. I remember reading about the fact that the order was not imbued in the flag top straight away but a few years later. I cannot recall the source of this info but I will try to verify this. Nevertheless, even if this info is correct, this won't provide a reasonable answer to the above brainscratcher . In another thread (in a different to the current section, sigh) I posted pictures of a 1st class set supposedly owned and worn by Prince Alexander I - the breast star also had three stars on its ring. Could that be a clue, perhaps? *Which, by the way, is the one we all expect - КНЯЗЬ НА БЪЛГАРIЯ, as per the old orthography.
  10. Reviving this forgotten thread by sharing an image of King Ferdinand wearing [what appears to be] Prince Alexander's old 1st class breast star of the Bravery order with skulls and bones - the one with the round gilded base. and Portrait of lieutenant-colonel M. Poshev with a nice pre-war bar (he died on the battlefield in the first month of the Balkan war). Note how the X and XX years crosses are positioned one above the other. Very neat and logical in my opinion.
  11. Just wanted to share this image of a 'lily' bravery order which appears to be of the 'cruder' type. Col. Dimitar Popov, c. late 30s
  12. Hi, Thank you for the information Great Dane! @Graf No, unfortunately, I haven't personally seen the royal collection. Hopefully, one day I will be able to do so and provide further insight. At this point of time, I'd assume that Cejalvo minted stars, as well as crosses, simply because we cannot proof otherwise. Even so, if there are no markings on the stars (like some other post-war semi-legal pieces) then we cannot disproof this either. Answer to 2nd question: Both orders which I mentioned, and which I am referring to as azure, are C&M of this unconfirmed type with shorter arms. One is a Grand necklace so probably it's not the badge whose image Great Dane has kindly provided. Perhaps it was sold at another auction or did not appear as a photograph in there? I believe 1978 was very productive for Klenau.
  13. Hi all, Thanks to the director of the Royal Fund of King Boris and Queen Jovanna, we have acquired some exclusive insight to the mysterious azure Cyril and Methodius crosses we were discussing lately. These certainly aren't Cejalvo products as some theories suggested (though yes, C&M crosses have been minted by them upon appointment of HM The King). Among the Royal collection at present, there are two such azure orders of different grades. At least one of them has been acquired by a third party via a Klenau auction in 1978 and later donated to the Royal Collection. This information is in line with 922F's comment above. I'd be happy if anyone has the old 1978 Klenau catalogues and is able to cite what the description of these orders was at that time. Either way, these two orders are being treated as genuine at present. This means that regardless of their actual background, their authenticity is currently not being questioned by the nominal awarding body itself. So, is anyone in possession of the above-mentioned catalogue?
  14. In relation to the Order of SS Cyril and Methodius, Just a humble note on my behalf, In his book, Prince Romanoff distinguishes two types of badges: he calls them 'badge' and 'lesser badge'. The latter is the type of badge which we're currently discussing - smaller in size and having a more pronounced shade of azure. Unfortunately, there's no actual image of the badge he's referring to in the book. Nevertheless, note that the size of the badge we're discussing is noticeably smaller than the 'default' 75mm wide arm span. This can be easily observed in one of the above images where it's shown beside the breast star (which, again, tend to differ in size but we can assume it's one of the generic ones, measuring at about 75mm wide). Naturally, we should not assume that everything written by Romanoff is true, but at least it's a fact that by the time of printing (early 80s), these badges have already been around for some time and have been treated as genuine, plus it's highly plausible that His Majesty King Simeon II has provided exclusive insight into the topic which, in theory, can indirectly prove that these are genuine badges, perhaps produced by appointment of the King himself while in exile. Another footnote I wanted to add is that both Pavlov and Petrov cite an article which states that Zimmermann of Pforzheim have also minted C&M orders (perhaps in late 30's/ early 40's). Personally, I haven't seen any markings, other than Rothe, which seem to have minted both major variations of the star/badge.
  15. Yes, my assumptions were the same. I am unsure about no.6 and no.10, too The ribbon for no.6 resembles the one for the so called 'railway medal' but this does not make any sense. The medal "For allocation of the military banners" is supposed to have a plain red ribbon, according to Pavlov.
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