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    Friends of the Imperial Air Fleet

    Chuck In Oregon

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    As I heard the story, the tsar was reluctant to allocate part of his already-strained pre-war military budget to aircraft. He, like so many others, thought they had no significant military application. When WW I broke out he was way behind the power curve regarding an air force, and now his budget was really strained.

    He turned to the nation's wealthy with an appeal for donations. If the donation was above a certain level, and I have been told that level was enough to buy an airplane, then the donor received one of these jetons as a token of appreciation. Or so goes the tale.

    I wish I could get the whole straight story. I've got a lot of questions. My first one is, are these two different levels of the badge, one gilted silver and the other plain silver? (I'm almost positive that the one on the right is not simply one where the gilt has worn off.) If so, what were the criteria for each? How much did you have to donate? How many people did donate? Did anyone who was asked ever say "No thanks, Nicky, we've got other plans"?

    Both are proofed 84. The gilt badge is hallmarked "BA" in the style of Vasili Ivanovich Andreev. My pitiful hallmark book confirms that he was, indeed, a silversmith working until at least 1917. The plain silver badge is also hallmarked with what appears to be a "BA". This mark is about half the size of the other hallmark and very difficult to read, even with a 10x glass. My eyes don't help much, either.

    Very early aviation, both Imperial and Soviet, is one of my interests.

    Edited by Chuck In Oregon
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