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Question on Order of Leopolds


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Though the abundance of the orders I have seen appear to be of very high quality, I have noticed some of these where the center appears offset and not set perfectly in line with the cross. I assume the center is fixed and cannot rotate, so are these just cases where quality control was lacking, or is it like coinage where it's acceptable for some degree of offset before QA throws it out?

Tim

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Rick, This "gum" substance is jeweler's setting clay. Each company had their own recipe for that and it ranges in colour from white, through reds, pinks and browns into almost black. This special gra

Tim, Indeed, the L1 centers had no pins and when clay becomes 'disturbed' it can rotate but not separate. They literally placed the piece with reverse center disk down - flat on the special form (to

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... I assume the center is fixed and cannot rotate, so are these just cases where quality control was lacking, or is it like coinage where it's acceptable for some degree of offset ...

Hello Tim,

Firstly, you are completely right in that the centre is fixed and should not rotate. As to the centre being offset at times, yours - IMHO - falls well within the limits of acceptability and is a quite nice example of a very good quality one ! If memory serves me right, it appears to have been made by the firm of Wolfers in Brussels.

Cheers,

Hendrik

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I don't know about Belgian Orders, but most old European Orders seem to have been assembled with the centers "fixed" with some sort of "chewing gum"-like substance inside the centers which petrifies and that allows some "jiggle" movement if there are not little pins through the center like those found on Prussian Red Eagle Orders. Occasionally the centers fall off these "gum" awards which is why they will show up missing a front or back center disk. That's not a quality control problem-- just a result of age.

I'd suspect your Leopold above must have that sort of "medal putty" inside the center since there would be no way to pin holed pieces through with the leaves in the way.

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Hi Rick!

Yes, understand and I think even some of the Japanese awards like the Rising Suns used some form of epoxy or adhesive to fix the red centers as we see some of those slightly offset.

I actually passed on this particular Leopold even though it is nice and has the "I" on the reverse. Like coins, I just like my items with straight lines. Hopefully I can find another and one with no enamel chips!

Speaking of the "I" or "1" on the reverse; was there ever a concensus what this actually represented? I read that some thought it referred to different makers, others thought it referenced Leopold 1st, 2nd... If that's the case, what about the ones that do not have a "I" or "II" in the center? Is there a way to date those and I see differences in the lettering designs and open centers, does that indicate periods or different makers?

Lots of questions and I understand few english references on these Belgian orders.

Many thanks guys!!

Tim

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... some thought it referred to different makers, others thought it referenced Leopold 1st, 2nd...

Hello Tim,

The ones with the I or II on the reverse are manufactured by the firm of Wolfers. So, definitely not referring to either Leopold I or II.

The one in the picture dates probably from before 1914 but one would need to see the crown suspension to properly date the piece.

Cheers,

Hendrik

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Hendrik,

Thank you! Okay, still learning here and that response actually surprised me as it seems almost natural to think the "I & II" would have stood for Leopolds 1 & 2. So, I guess I have to ask then, is it the crown style that actually dates these pieces?

Another question concerning the military versions with swords, does a piece that has the sword device under the crown also have to have the swords ribbon attachment?

Beautiful awards!

Tim

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... is it the crown style that actually dates these pieces?

... does a piece that has the sword device under the crown also have to have the swords ribbon attachment?

Hello Tim,

The crown style is an important factor when dating these awards but it's not the only one. Colour of the enamels used, unilingual or bilingual legend, presence of silver and/or maker's marks, overall quality, etc. will all be useful elements to consider.

The crossed swords devices (there are 3) on the ribbon indicates an award to a war veteran. I suggest you take a look on www.medals.be where you can find more information ...

Cheers,

Hendrik

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Nice site Hendrik!!

I think I'm getting it. :rolleyes: The Order of Leopold I's have the red ribbon and the Order of Leopold II's have the blue ribbon with black stripe. The medals are different as well. I was confused and I have seen items listed calling both one or the other and see this must have been incorrect.

:beer:

Tim

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Okay, next question: Have these orders been faked yet?

I see everything else in the world of collecting has :rolleyes: so I have to assume these have as well.

The reason I ask is, I see some of these medals with different colored berries (red, orange, yellow) on the laurel leaves and some that don't have any at all. I see lions that appear flat while others are clearly three-dimensional. Is this just a case of different manufacturers or something I need to look out for?

Tim

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Here's one example/comparison of what I am asking about. You can see a quality difference in enamel and level of detail, but is there more here to the story?

Are there current copies or reissue pieces???

Tim

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello again,

I still have some questions regarding the crossed swords even after looking at Hendriks great site!

I'll post a couple of examples and maybe get some specific answers using these to go from. Here we see two Leopold I medals, one has the swords on the ribbon but not the medal itself and the other has the swords device as part of the medal but the ribbon is plain. Are these correct as shown? Was there a difference in the award?

Also, did the regulations stipulate how the swords were worn on ribbon? You'll notice in this case the swords on the ribboned medal are pointed downward and most I have seen are opposite.

Thank you!

Tim

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While were asking questions on the swords...

Here are two more examples, these two are Leopold II medals. I see the differences in the medal and note that one is bilingual (Flemish) but the swords are of different style. Is this something that changed with the timeline? The bilingual version is later I understand.

Again, as in the examples above of the Leopold I's, the ribbons have the swords but not the medal themselves.

:cheers:

Tim

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... two Leopold I medals, one has the swords on the ribbon but not the medal itself and the other has the swords device as part of the medal but the ribbon is plain. Are these correct as shown? Was there a difference in the award?

Also, did the regulations stipulate how the swords were worn on ribbon? You'll notice in this case the swords on the ribboned medal are pointed downward and most I have seen are opposite...

Hello Tim,

The one with the swords underneath the crown is the "military division" of the order, the one without these swords being the "civil division".

The crossed swords device on the ribbon indicates a WWI veteran recipient. Such a recipient has to be considered as serving in the military during the war and, hence, the crossed swords device should only be present on the military division decorations.

Cheers,

Hendrik

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... Leopold II medals. I see the differences in the medal and note that one is bilingual (Flemish) but the swords are of different style. Is this something that changed with the timeline? The bilingual version is later I understand.

Again, as in the examples above of the Leopold I's, the ribbons have the swords but not the medal themselves.

Unlike the Leopold Order, the Leopold II Order has no divisions and thus no crossed swords below the crown suspension.

The crossed swords device on the ribbon in the left picture is the correct one for Belgian orders awarded to WWI veterans, the device in the right picture is not.

The changeover from unilingual to bilingual legends took place in 1951-52.

And, the ribbon device is supposed to have the swords pointing upwards ...

Cheers,

Hendrik

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Hendrik,

Many thanks for that and I must be learning something as I suspected the Leopold I with the swords on the ribbon was not correct and probably had swords added to embelish it. The swords do look like the correct type but as I thought after looking through your site, the device was misplaced on a civil award and incorrectly placed upside down. So, :jumping:

The Leopold I on the left appears to be a nice original to me, my question on that one was: should the ribbon also have the swords considering this is a military division award? OR, do these swords only represent WWI; so then this medal is post WWI?

:beer:

Tim

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As for the Leopold II's, I wasn't sure of the swords attached to the medals and not having a "military division" is new information for me, so I really learned something new here!

Again, the swords on the left appear to be of correct style for WWI and on the earlier unilingual medal, but as they are upside down, I still suspect added after the fact to embelish the piece and command higher prices.

The later bilingual medal has a different style sword attachment. Could these possibly represent some period later? I am not sure of the sword style here.

Correct me if I am wrong, but if this was a Korean War era piece, then the ribbon would have the "Corea" bar?

Thanks again!

Tim

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...

The Leopold I on the left appears to be a nice original to me, my question on that one was: should the ribbon also have the swords considering this is a military division award? OR, do these swords only represent WWI; so then this medal is post WWI?

Tim,

The crossed swords ribbon devices indicate an award to a war veteran and can be awarded with the Leopold Order (military), the Order of the Crown and the Order of Leopold II. The device itself was officially created in 1939.

Cheers,

Hendrik

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As for the Leopold II's, ...

The later bilingual medal has a different style sword attachment. Could these possibly represent some period later? I am not sure of the sword style here.

Correct me if I am wrong, but if this was a Korean War era piece, then the ribbon would have the "Corea" bar?

The sword style looks more German than Belgian to me ...

Korean War veteran pieces would have a crossed swords device with a small plaque bearing "KOREA" or "COREE". For WWII veterans, a similar device, with a plaque "40-45" exists.

Cheers,

Hendrik

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Beautiful examples! :jumping:

I take it the palm on the Leopold II denoted being mentioned in a dispatch, similar to the French awards?

Would you ever see just a palm on one of these awards (without swords)?

Tim

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Hi Uwe!

Yes, good examples as to answering some of my questions.

First, according to Hendrik's earlier post, should the Leopold II have crossed swords under the crown? I thought as there were not military divisions assigned to this award, the swords only applied to the Leopold I orders?? (see post # 18 reply)

Second, and to my more recent question; on your example without the swords, what would the palm signify? A heroic or meritorious act by a civilian in war or hostile environment?

Good examples and thank you for sharing! :cheers:

Tim

Edited by Tim B
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