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"The Order of the Double Dragon" - New Book


drclaw
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Dear all,

"The Order of the Double Dragon - Imperial China's Highest Western Style Honour 1882 - 1912" has finally arrived from the printers

Richard La Tondre contributed the Forward together with many photographs which he took from the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University.

Here's the short blurb:

"The Order of the Double Dragon was Imperial China's highest Western-style honour, established at a time of profound and painful change. The forced opening of China in the 19th century brought profound shocks and a flood of foreigners from missionaries and traders to teachers, military adventurers and railway builders. Many of these individuals gave loyal service to the Qing Court which the Order of the Double Dragon sought to reward.

Conferred by the Emperor on visiting foreign statesmen, the award also symbolised China's efforts to engage the West. The insignia were beautifully made and combined elements from Eastern and Western traditions. They captured the grandeur and majesty of a Dynasty, and way of life, in terminal decline.

This book examines the history, design and symbolism of the Order of the Double Dragon against the turbulent events of late Imperial China. With almost 100 images, together with translations of the original Imperial decrees, it offers a comprehensive guide to an award with a unique and important place in history."

The book is softcover, around 90 pages, and in colour.

The cost is AUD 25, plus $12 international postage by A4 envelope (note this doesn't cover the full postage cost). Payment can be made through Paypal.

I can be contacted by PM or through gavgoh88(at)yahoo.com.au.

For purchasers in China, please contact JCwater by PM or through jcwater638(at)hotmail.com.

Copies will also soon be available from the Orders and Medals Society of America.

Gavin

Edited by drclaw
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Having received a copy of the book earlier this week and having seen it through the draft stages I can only say that I am truly astounded.

The book starts of with a brief resume on pre DD decorations, gives a a very good and well illustrated guide to the type 1 DD. But when it gets to the type 2 it is absolutely breathtaking, it is lavishly illustrated showing a wide range of types and variations, including warrants of appointment and cases of issue and in some cases ribbons. The book is by far the best thing that I have ever seen on the Order. Tammann had a work which never got past the embryonic stage, I had a draft, and that was better than anything previous. The text is written with a clarity that is rarely seen in a specialist book and is equally suitable for a generalist with no knowledge of the order to a specialist who has seen dozens of examples. Like the best of teachers Gavin keeps it simple and doesn't assume previous knowledge of the reader. The best bit, for me, are the appendices which are a guide to the seal script and Manchu characters found on the orders, again these are clear and simple so that anyone will find them easy to use. Alas my colleague has taken my copy with him to OMSA, I have warned him that if he does not return it his chances of fathering further chilldren will be zero.

Even if you have even the slightest interest in world orders and decorations you will enjoy this book. If you are interested in Chinese orders then this is the best thing since whisky distilling. I am hoping that one day Gavin will tackle thre republican orders and later the infernal mine field of war lord orders and decorations. This is an exceptional first venture in to medal publishing. Buy a copy you won't be dissappointed.

Paul

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A treasure trove of information that fills a long existing void in the early development of China's history. This is a volume that was attempted by some in the past but never brought to fruition. With the limited first printing this is gauranteed to be a collector's edition par exellence. I am proud to be a small part of this big project. Congratulations Gavin. We are all proud of you!

Richard La Tondre

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Congratulations Gavin!

Having witnessed the birth of this labor of love book, The Order of the Double Dragon, I am proud and impressed with the quality of this landmark publication. May the Force be with you!

Markus

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Paul, Richard and Markus,

Thank you for the very nice words. This book would not have been possible without the generosity of many people through the writing process - especially yourselves.

It's no false modesty to say this book stands on the shoulders of others who pioneered study on the Double Dragon, including James Peterson, King Kwok, Robert Werlich, Michael Autengruber, Gustav Tammann and Li Gongqing.

Gavin

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I received my copy yesterday - I am IMPRESSED! I've only had a chance to comb it briefly, I can not wait to have a moment to sit down and start seriously reading it! It came out very nicely. My sincerest congratulations to Gavin on this, and to Richard - a very nice Forward!

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Hi Doc!

I received the book today. (very fast) I was fascinated by him, diagramming excellent, well-illustrated and very clear information .. I am impressed with your book.

Perfect! Like other friends have said. "one of the best books on this topic."

Thank you Gavin.

Lambert

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Thanks Nick, Dieter and Lambert.

It's been the support and encouragement of friends like yourselves that made it so much more enjoyable.

All the best, Gavin

Edited by drclaw
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Thanks very much David, I'm glad the book arrived safe.

Thanks also for the extra contribution for postage. It was very thoughtful of you and much appreciated.

Cheers, Gavin

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  • 5 months later...

Most Chinese-made Second Type Double Dragons breast stars and Third Class badges have a similar star corpus design. These are an eight pointed star where each point is composed of three groups of three rays (Variation 1).

Here is the typical example - a Second Class Third Grade breast star and accompanying badge from the April 2011 Spink auction.

Edited by drclaw
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Some rare specimens (Variation 2) however have a different star corpus design - where the star points are composed of FIVE groups of three rays.

The overall appearance is noticeably different - with a finer construction, more delicate appearance, and more tapered rays.

Here is a Third Class First Grade neck badge from the Harry Mohler collection at Stanford University, courtesy of our friend Richard La Tondre.

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One possible explanation is that the Variation 2 specimens were early awards. Later, Variation 1 which was more robust and easier to manufacture became the standard.

Supporting this theory is the fact that many of the transitional or "Early" Second Type Double Dragons have a very similar design - the star points are also composed of five groups of three rays.

These were awarded as late as 1902, the same year as the Second Type Double Dragons (1902-1912). There is very little by way of documentation but it is possible they were awarded as early as 1897 following the 1897 Memorial and Statutes proposing the change in the Double Dragon design to a more Western-style star.

Here is an exquisite transitional or Early Second Type Double Dragon (1897?-1902) also from the Harry Mohler Collection at Stanford University, courtesy of Richard La Tondre.

It is a Third Class First Grade. Note the green enameled rays. The 1897 Statutes also specified that the Third, Fourth and Fifth Class decorations were to have green enameled rays.

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The similarity between these transitional or Early Second Type Double Dragons (1897?-1902) and the Variation 2 Second Type is evident.

These are just theories in the absence of more documentation.

But we can see an apparent evolution in design from the transitional awards to the Variation 2 Second Type to the Variation 1 Second Type.

Edited by drclaw
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  • 8 years later...

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