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Early British ribbon bars constructions - please show yours!


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Hi all,

I will post here some of my earliest British ribbon bars that I have found so far. If any of the constructions are familiar or you have something else to add, please do so.

Here is one of the earliest pin systems. Unfortunately pin is broken off:

- Crimea medal (1854)

- Turkish Crimea medal (1855)

- French Military Medal (Médaille Militaire)

222258699d9191_l.jpg

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"Weird" metal construction, where are two ribbons "squeesed" between and then I presume all of this is sew on:

- Distinguished Conduct medal

- Indian Mutiny medal

I can't be sure are the ribbons original on this set but I am taken it as a interesting construction solution anyway.

222264670a725d_o.jpg

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An Ambro-Type photo (negative on glass) from about 1860, showing a trooper of the 17th Lancers wearing the ribbon of the Mutiny Medal.

On this and other early photographic portraits, it can be seen that the hight of the earliest ribbons/ribbonbars worn on uniforms is nearly double compared to the later ribbons.

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An albumen print (c. 1860) of Captain Charles Francis Eteson, of the British Indian Civil & Misc. Branch.

He is wearing the ribbon of his India General Service Medal with the clasp "Pegu".

Again, note the hight of the ribbon.

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A lot of the early medals seem to have been sewn directly to the tunic. In fact, this explains at least a few of the name erased groups one occasionally sees - bought up by long service NCOs to wear on their 'second best' tunics apparently. However, I've never seen this very early style of bar, so thank you both for sharing!

Peter

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An Ambro-Type photo (negative on glass) from about 1860, showing a trooper of the 17th Lancers wearing the ribbon of the Mutiny Medal.

On this and other early photographic portraits, it can be seen that the hight of the earliest ribbons/ribbonbars worn on uniforms is nearly double compared to the later ribbons.

Brilliant shots! Thank you very much for sheering and keep them coming guys! ;)

22232369f88551_o.jpg

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All lovely! These last look like what I'm used to as well - the 'standard' [?] width familiar to modern wearers rather than the wide ones in Noor and Odulf's shots. So wide ones from the Pegu [1854, worn in 1860] and the Mutiny and the Crimea [1855]. Narrow ones from 2nd Afghan [1878 I think], Soudan, Eygpt and South Africa.

So the change seems to have occurred sometime in that 20-30 year window, assuming that all the examples shown are original mountings and roughly contemporaneous with the award of the medals, say late '50s/early 60s for the first three and 1880ish for the later ones. I wonder if we can pin it down any more precisely and whether there was regulation or regulation change involved or simply the evolution of taste and fashion. Anyone care to venture a guess, informed or otherwise? :)

Peter

Edited by peter monahan
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A copy from the paragraph about the wearing of decorations and medals, "Uniform Regulations for Officers, Petty Officers and Seamen of the Fleet" (1879).

Note 125.c (decorations and medals are to be worn in a single horizontal line) and 125.5 (When ribbons only are worn, they must be half an inch in length.

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Until about 1863 photos show that decorations and medals were spread over the left chest, in no particular order of wear. From about that time the custom rises to wear decorations and medals in one line. As it is, the Dress Regulations follow (and regulate) custom. The Naval Dress Regulations 1879 specify the wearing of decorations and medals and I have not yet found any earlier regulation about this matter.

For the sake of the example I enclose a portrait of Admiral Sir Sidney Colpoys Dacres from about 1871, wearing his decorations and medals all over his chest, and a portrait of Lord Charles Beresford from about 1886, wearing his decorations in accordance with the 1879 Regulations.

Ribbons only were worn instead of the full size medal-and-ribbon, for the sake of ease and to prevent the loss/damage of medals and clasps. I have not yet seen any early photos of military personnel wearing more than one ribbon.

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Thank you so much for your inputs Odulf - I learned a lot. Is it just me but looks like Lord Charles Beresford Khediva star is wrong way around?

You are right! Sloppy, the Khedive's Star is twisted showing the reverse, however the Star is correctly mounted...

Never the less, I like the photo, because it shows that Live Saving Medals were worn on the right chest.

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Hi all,

I will post here some of my earliest British ribbon bars that I have found so far. If any of the constructions are familiar or you have something else to add, please do so.

Here is one of the earliest pin systems. Unfortunately pin is broken off:

- Crimea medal (1854)

- Turkish Crimea medal (1855)

- French Military Medal (Médaille Militaire)

222258699d9191_l.jpg

I have my doubts about this ribbon bar to be British, as the French also qualified for the same medals, also I find the sewing/stitching rather crude and the early contemporary ribbon bars that I had in my collection were neatly sewn and without the spacing I notice here. No soldier would gain respect with a sloppy ribbon bar as shon, not to mention the next you put up on show.

To my understanding, the wear of ribbon bars started on the Continent in between 1830 and 1850, by ex-soldiers, as a souvenir-like display. From this era date many combined ribbons from Russia, German States, The Netherlands etc. Sometimes these were framed in gilted metal, silver or even gold, and with the miniature decorations/medals attached below. Also, the miniatures were worn on a (watch) chain (in Germany) by ex-service men. This custom was adapted by military folk in a time when dress regulations were not so strict.

To understand this matter, one has to consider that (in GB) medals were regarded both as a souvenir but also as an internsic (silver) token or reward which could be turned into cash in times of need. As British medals were issued without a paper scroll (only the name in the rim and a name on a list in a far distant file) the medal on its own was the proof of evidence. On the Continent most medals were produced from (occupied) gun metal or alloy but the named document was the source.

In England, long time serving soldiers/naval personnel wore their medals daily, but in performing duty this was not very practical, as dangling medals were lost or cought up in works, so only the ribbon was worn (seperated from the medal). Medals on the chest of serving military personnel were scarce before about 1860, and also recipients did not feel the need to show off as the circulation of personnel was low. The unit's members knew their respective past. When the number of medals increased, due to Empire military actions, more medals/ribbons were worn and thus the need for the Regulators of the Forces increased to catch this fashion in uniform regulations. To my understanding, the narrow (half inch) ribbons first came into use during or after the Boer War (c. 1900), but I may be wrong, my opinion is based on photographical evidence.

When I put this fashion in a wider (European) perspective I notice that in the German States a clever system had come in use, by using a metal frame covered with ribbon and a hook, to which the badge (Order or Medal) could be attached. Other continental countries applied their own solutions.

This fashion would call for a wider study, because it is, generally speaking, a white spot. I am investigating the customs about ribbon bars and the wear of miniature medals on uniform in The Netherlands, and I have learned that this custom was fed by German and French military habits; in the end it was sanctioned by military regulations, but that was long after the fashionable introduction.

I thank you for launching this topic, and I hope for much response so that I may learn.

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again a nice turn of the century mini bar!

These mini bars were worn on evening dress, when regulations ordered so. It goes to far to explain the circumstances, but it was not on the regular duty uniform.

I would date the bar around 1910 or so, perhaps even later.

The early ribbon bars were flat, and sewn onto the uniform, on a base of corse fabric, this was continued until afer WW2, the custom to put a ribbon bar on a pin dates from the interbellum (according to the fashion of the attachment). This is my opinion, based on experience; as this is not science.

.

Edited by Odulf
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Hi Oduf,

Thank you very much! All good valid points and I agree with them.

Regards the bar that I own, I think there can be a case as well that the ribbons shrink over time. Especially when they are 150 years old. I have seen similar effect on the "younger" Franco-Prussian period German trapezoid's bars. Meantime of course this bar is far away from Victorian period great quality and is realy bad sign.

Regards the others, I am fairly sure they are not period made. Of course the metal part can be but its something that is impossible to confirm.

Here are three examples:

- QSA/KSA/15 Star trio - earlier pin system I quess (straight after the Great War)

- Delhi Durbar 1911/QSA - pre 1914 or early war. Came with the owner's items, so I know in fact that after the war his bar looked different. Great heavy pin system

- QSA/KSA - sew in bar from probably straight after the Boer war.

222366491c64d9_o.jpg

Odulf - I have some earlier soldier portraits from imperial Germany if you are interested. Please send me a message with your email and I can provide some scans.

Noor

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Thank you again,

You have some great bars!

Here is one sew in VM/BWM pair example from my collection. Some how this soldier's bar was almost half of the height then regular metal construction.

22245489d39d2e_l.jpg

Here is nice WW1 DCM award set with the pin back example:

22245491596af2_l.jpg

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And here are standart metal construction examples. Unfortunately non of them are maker stamped. If some of you know any of the producers or have different examples, please post them up.

222454956a0b5d_o.jpg

Edited by Noor
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