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Making sense of it all - Sacred Treasures of known award date....


Paul L Murphy
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I think everyone will agree that one of the most controversial things at the moment is the dating of the various Japanese orders, ie when individual pieces were made and what characteristics collectors can use to identify the timeframe of the item in question.

Therefore let us follow Rich's advice from a much earlier post and go back to source information, putting aside all accumulated knowledge and opinions. In this thread I would like people to post examples of the Sacred Treasure where the date of the award can be proven without doubt. Essentially this will mean orders which come with the original documents (and where we can be comfortable that they have not been victim of a mix-and-match process), is clearly shown in a photo being worn (not ideal since photo quality can make it difficult to pick out the fine details) or is otherwise attributable to a specific individual whose date of award is known.

I suggest we keep this thread to the bare bones of these "proven" awards and have our general discussion and chat about the thread in a separate thread, that will just make it easier to follow.

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First up we have this one.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2012/post-1487-0-07031500-1326323919.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2012/post-1487-0-14221500-1326323932.jpg

This is the 2nd Class award to Robert Bredon. It was awarded on 24th July 1903. At that time he was the Deputy Inspector General of the Imperial Chinese Customs. His orders and medals (including a lovely Defense of Legations 1900 Chinese War Medal) were sold at auction in the UK some time ago.

His award certificate is numbered 1,636, which shows how few foreigners were awarded the Sacred Treasure up to then.

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Next up we have the 3rd Class award to Colonel Charles Vernon Hume.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2012/post-1487-0-82278900-1326324508.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2012/post-1487-0-26094600-1326324559.jpg

This was awarded to him in 1906 for service as a British military attache with the Japanese Army in Manchuria during the Russo Japanese War.

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Next we have the 3rd Class award to Sir Frederick William Maze.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2012/post-1487-0-88976000-1326324868.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_01_2012/post-1487-0-10766700-1326324883.jpg

It was awarded to him in April 1920 when he was working in the Chinese Customs.

Maze's medals and orders (mainly Chinese) were sold by his family in 2011. The following post shows some interesting letters relating to his award.

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The first letter acknowledges his request for permission to accept and wear the award, and seems to suggest that getting this permission should be straight forward. Apologies that they are too small to read but I seem to be able to make them either this size or too large to upload !

The second letter is the final reply basically saying bah-humbug you cannot wear the order so stick it in the drawer out of sight !

Edited by Paul L Murphy
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Next up we have a post war example of the 3rd Class award. This is the award to William F Bramstedt who was Chairman of the Standard Oil Company of California. I think the date of the award was 1967 but I need to find his certificate and double check.

See, now this is interesting. I've always been led to believe that the ones WITH rivets were WWII and prior, and that awards once re-issuance occurred were plain as were some late-war pieces, no rivets or screws! This one is obviously riveted. Either my belief is WRONG (at least partially), or there was a mixing of medal types. That medal also appears to have a hallmark - Paul, are you sure you're showing us the correct medal for this gentlemen? If it is correct, could it be one that was never awarded prior to the war's end, and safely survived only toy be awarded in 1967?? Scratching head....

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And here is one for thought - it can't be precisely dated (sorry Paul, I'm already going south!) - BUT - I think it is worth showing - it has some early features - love the pink bands!! But also, look carefully at the ribbon clasp - it has what appears to be a Sacred Treasure mirror on it. Most of the pieces of which I have photos are what I believe to be later pieces, and none exhibit this feature. Sorry the picture isn't the best!

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See, now this is interesting. I've always been led to believe that the ones WITH rivets were WWII and prior, and that awards once re-issuance occurred were plain as were some late-war pieces, no rivets or screws! This one is obviously riveted. Either my belief is WRONG (at least partially), or there was a mixing of medal types. That medal also appears to have a hallmark - Paul, are you sure you're showing us the correct medal for this gentlemen? If it is correct, could it be one that was never awarded prior to the war's end, and safely survived only toy be awarded in 1967?? Scratching head....

Yes, it is Bramstedt's. This suggests that the move to two screw and rivetless reverses must have taken place after 1967. My purpose in starting this thread is to get known dated awards and see if we can construct a proper timeline which will withstand scrutiny.

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Yes, it is Bramstedt's. This suggests that the move to two screw and rivetless reverses must have taken place after 1967. My purpose in starting this thread is to get known dated awards and see if we can construct a proper timeline which will withstand scrutiny.

Paul,

Thank you for this thread. It is useful to have provenanced and dated pieces then there can be no doubt of the date of manufacture and one can base dating information on fact rather than conjecture (and I know it is very easy to have a theory and then create hypothetical information based on that.). Interestingly I see that some of the early awards are to Chinese Customs officials. Why would they have received them. I know they usually ended up with Double-Dragons or later Golden Grains, classes depending on rank, where the helping the Japanese to get things in to China that shouldn't have been there?

All the best,

Paul

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Yes, it is Bramstedt's. This suggests that the move to two screw and rivetless reverses must have taken place after 1967. My purpose in starting this thread is to get known dated awards and see if we can construct a proper timeline which will withstand scrutiny.

Absolutely agreed. Why I raise this question is simply because, while they are NOT in my possession, I have observed several pieces, that if you believe they really are correctly grouped and not thrown together by unscrupulous sellers (which is entirely possible), would refute this at least in part. These have all been Showa 18,19,20 year documents appearing with medals of a plain reverse construction, no rivets or screws. HOWEVER - just recently I saw an auction for a 1st or 2nd class (can't recall) and a document dated I believe Showa 60 - this piece had rivets which obviously supports what you say. This is what has me wondering if there was a possible mixture of medals, NIB items left over from before issue ceased that were kept and then subsequently issued starting in the 60s along with the "new" construction.

There is NO question in my mind that rivet less , screwless construction was used in later years prior to the introduction of screws in late pieces - but the question is when exactly did this start? Indeed post-1967 as you suggest? Sometime during the war? It'd be nice to know for sure, though I don't know that without written evidence from authority or the Japan mint that we will ever know.

All please note, I'm not saying anybody is right or wrong - I'm just trying to get to the bottom of things as I think we all are!

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I have a fourth class Sacred Treasure issued in July 1983 to myself when I served as a diplomat in Japan. It has two rivets on the left and right arm. The rivets have a + incision on top for a scewdriver. Unfortunately I am a digiilliterate and don't know how to post a picture. The accompanying certificate was signed by prime minister Nakasone and is numbered 9809.

By the way Paul (Murphy), did you buy the Defence of Legations set? I was very interested but it went beyond my budget.

Pieter

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Paul,

Thank you for this thread. It is useful to have provenanced and dated pieces then there can be no doubt of the date of manufacture and one can base dating information on fact rather than conjecture (and I know it is very easy to have a theory and then create hypothetical information based on that.). Interestingly I see that some of the early awards are to Chinese Customs officials. Why would they have received them. I know they usually ended up with Double-Dragons or later Golden Grains, classes depending on rank, where the helping the Japanese to get things in to China that shouldn't have been there?

All the best,

Paul

Paul,

Both Bredon and Maze had a number of Chinese orders, which were sold at the same time. It seems to have been not uncommon for Europeans in senior Chinese posts to receive Japanese orders at that time. I have a Rising Sun 3rd class which was awarded to Theophile Piry when he held a senior position in the Chinese postal service and was involved in negotiating a postal accord between China and Japan.

Regards,

Paul

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I have a fourth class Sacred Treasure issued in July 1983 to myself when I served as a diplomat in Japan. It has two rivets on the left and right arm. The rivets have a + incision on top for a scewdriver. Unfortunately I am a digiilliterate and don't know how to post a picture. The accompanying certificate was signed by prime minister Nakasone and is numbered 9809.

By the way Paul (Murphy), did you buy the Defence of Legations set? I was very interested but it went beyond my budget.

Pieter

Pieter,

Many thanks for that information, it is really helpful. If you email me a photo of the medal and certificate I will post them here for you.

Unfortunately I did not get the Defense of Legations medal, it went for way more than I could afford to pay at the time.

Regards,

Paul

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I have a fourth class Sacred Treasure issued in July 1983 to myself when I served as a diplomat in Japan. It has two rivets on the left and right arm. The rivets have a + incision on top for a scewdriver. Unfortunately I am a digiilliterate and don't know how to post a picture. The accompanying certificate was signed by prime minister Nakasone and is numbered 9809.

By the way Paul (Murphy), did you buy the Defence of Legations set? I was very interested but it went beyond my budget.

Pieter

Nice! Would love to see it! Yes, these screws are consistent with later awards including current issue. Now we know they at least go back to 1983, quite helpful!

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Pieter / Nick,

Thanks for posting these. The certificate is particularly interesting since it confirms that post war the Japanese used a different number roll for awards to foreigners versus awards to Japanese. The Sacred Treasure 3rd Class to Branstedt was certificate number 7,741 and was awarded in 1963. By Showa Year 56 (2 years before your award) the Japanese roll for the Sacred Treasure was already at number 1,951,149 !

It appears that about 100 were awarded on average per year to foreigners during the period from the early 60s to early 80s. It is possible that the numbering of the roll for foreigners continued on post war where it left off in 1945 since certificate number 5,094 was awarded in 1927. We need to find a few more certificates for the Sacred Treasure to foreigners for the period between 1927 and 1963 to be able to draw a final conclusion in this regard.

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See, now this is interesting. I've always been led to believe that the ones WITH rivets were WWII and prior, and that awards once re-issuance occurred were plain as were some late-war pieces, no rivets or screws! This one is obviously riveted. Either my belief is WRONG (at least partially), or there was a mixing of medal types. That medal also appears to have a hallmark - Paul, are you sure you're showing us the correct medal for this gentlemen? If it is correct, could it be one that was never awarded prior to the war's end, and safely survived only toy be awarded in 1967?? Scratching head....

I checked the cert and it was awarded in 1963.

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Dieter,

I never looked at the suspension knob, but indeed at the backside it has the capital letters DE. The trouble with these awards( contrary to the old days) is that after it was presented to me by the Japanese ambassador, it disappearsed in the cupboard because there is no occasion to wear it. I sometimes had the chance to wear the miniature of this Sacred Treasure at official white tie occasions, but the big model can only be worn on uniform. Not intending to boast, but I have also been awarded the third class of the order of the Rising Sun, and as a neckbadge, I had the chance to wear the original order several times. Especially in London, which was my last post abroad, where formal diplomatic functions are more frequent than in other countries. As a side note, the highlight for me, not only as a diplomat, but also as a medal collector was when I attended a white tie function at Buckingham Palace and was presented to Queen Elizabeth, who was wearing a splendid jewelled collar of the Order of the Garter.

Pieter

Edited by pieter1012
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Further to the earlier remark of Dieter on the rivets present on the Sacred Treasure of Bramstedt awarded in 1963, I have in my collection a First Class of the Sacred Treasure that was awarded to a Japanese in April 1966. It has four rivets, just like the one on Bramstedt's order; on the sashbadge as well as on the star. I looked carefully, but found no hallmarks on both items.

Pieter

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Further to the earlier remark of Dieter on the rivets present on the Sacred Treasure of Bramstedt awarded in 1963, I have in my collection a First Class of the Sacred Treasure that was awarded to a Japanese in April 1966. It has four rivets, just like the one on Bramstedt's order; on the sashbadge as well as on the star. I looked carefully, but found no hallmarks on both items.

Pieter

Interesting, interesting. I wonder at what point in time the mint began to reuse hallmarks/codes on the suspension knobs, and what the heck do they mean??

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