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Orders Books: Editions & Series

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For Soviet collectors, the reference book "Bible" is Paul McDaniel's and Paul J. Schmitt's 1997 "The Comprehensive Guide to Soviet Orders and Medals." I would like to expand and build upon the brief section on Orders Books there, by posting every possible edition and series.

We have come up with 13 "series" of Orders Books, in 22 editions. There may be several missing that I have never encountered, and I hope anyone with such missing types will post them here. (As they are being added in following pages of this thread, I am editing them in to all be neatly organized in THIS post's list. Thanks for your additions! :beer: )

This is now what we come up with--

as "SERIES" in Cyrillic alphabetical order, chronologically

Serial numbered, without any letter prefix

Serial number prefix "A"

Serial number prefix "B" (Cyrillic letter "Б")

Serial number prefix "V" (Cyrillic letter "B")

Serial number prefix "G" (Cyrillic letter "Г ")

Serial number prefix "D"(Cyrillic letter "Д")

Serial number prefix "Ye" (their letter "E")

NO serial number prefix "Yo" (their letter "?") ?

Serial number prefix "Zh" (Cyrillic letter "Ж" )

Serial number prefix "Z" (Cyrillic letter " З")

Serial number prefix "I" (Cyrillic letter "И")

Serial number prefix "K"

Serial number prefix "L" (Cyrillic letter "Л ")

Serial number prefix "M"

I make the distinction between serial number letter prefixes and chronology because there was some overlapping, with the letter "G" uncharacteristically running through multiple editions with the same letter prefix. Thanks to new information on page 2 of this thread, "G" was introduced in 1947 for two series in editions of that year, and "Zh" also used same letter prefix on TWO dated years' editions.

Here are the "EDITIONS," from year dated State Printing Office lines found on the final back page in each book. In parenthesis I have put the first/last year we have seen for each type, and an ASTERISK denotes the several weird ones where I have only seen ONE such series/edition Orders Book:

1938: recipient photo stamped in all (1938), serial number only

1939: recipient photo stamped in all (1939), serial number only

1940: recipient photo stamped (1942), serial number only (see thread page 2)





1945-#: some recipient photo stamped, characteristic cheap quality with raw edges, serial number only (1946)

1945-"A": some recipient photo stamped, characteristic cheap quality with raw edges, serial number now preceded by letter "A" (1946)

UNDATED-"A": same as above, Book issued in 1947

1946-"B": seen in McDaniel (1948) but not the edition year date page.

1947-"V": not observed with any photos, still poor quality but with altered Soviet state seal on cover, serial number preceded by letter "V" (1949)

1947-"G": no photo in 1 example seen (1947*)[

1950-"G": some recipient photo stamped, back to good quality thick covers here on, serial number proceeded by letter "G" (1947/1951)

(1951-"G": ???? possible/presumed)

UNDATED-"G": no photo in 1 example seen (1952*) (see "L" "1986" below!)

1952-"G": same as 1950-"G," (1954)

1953-"G": same as 1950-"G" (1954)




1957-"D": no photo (1958* labor Gold Star) with photo (1966*)

1957-"Ye": no recipient photos in only two examples seen (1966-67)

Two letters remain unknown in the alphabetical sequence.

1966- "Zh": with recipient photo in ONLY example seen (1966*)

1967- "Zh": no recipient photos ever observed (1967/1975)

1967- "Z" no recipient photo (1967, 1974)

1967-"I": no recipient photos ever observed (1980)

1967-"K": no recipient photo (1980*)

UNDATED-"L": no recipient photo (1986*) see "1952" "G" above!

1991- "M": no place for a photo (1991)

These types now represent a considerably expanded and focussed "catalog" of Orders Book printing variations than are mentioned in McDaniel.

It now appears that 1966/67 was a uniquely WEIRD period for Orders Books with FOUR different editions/series ALL being used simultaneously in each year for the HUGE number of awards (I wonder if they were all Badges of Honor-- we need to compare notes on page 3 of this thread!)

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Pre-WW2 Orders Books ALWAYS had a photo of the recipient, stamped by the issuing authority.

Here are the covers of a 1938 (left) and 1939 (right) Edition Orders Book. Notice the number of Republics in the Soviet state seal-- as represented by ribbons on each side of the wreath, with one always on the bottom bow. These are well made, with thick covers, but poor quality paper inside. Here is a 1939 edition with recipient's photo (attested by the Supreme Soviet rubber stamp) with the bearer's name, Yakov Pavlovich Grebennik over his signature on the facing page.


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Unfortunately, in this 1938 edition, the recipient's photo page has been removed. If neatly done, it would not be missed by a collector who does not know that it SHOULD be there.

Notice the horrible confusion that resulted during the war, when these Books-- not meant for the flood of awards following the 1930s-- end up with the three lines for names of the Orders over three lines for the serial number of each, with original issuance date below, stamped and hand written all over the page!

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There is actually nothing else of any interest in any type of Orders Book-- simply printed regulations which decreased over time as any practical privileges (pay increases, free travel, and so on) were removed as the numbers of Orders holders rose.

As a means of "identification," these are MOST unsatisfactory, since they do not even bear the minimal unchanging personal details of date and place of birth, let alone anything else.

The final page always bears the edition year

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As an aside, the wartime expedient of issuing a "Temporary Certificate" (illustrated for an Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class) was far more satisfactory, as far as details went--

these not only bore the recipient's name, but also rank/status, issuing unit/authority, and specific "General Order" authorizing the serially numbered decoration, with award date and processing date, stamped and signed by the unit.

The paper remains of poor quality, so these are often flimsy. But as a "clue" for deciding whether research is worthwhile or not, a "Temporary Certificate" beats an Orders Book any time!

This August 1944 presentation of OPW 1st Class # 77, 294 was made per decree #0529 17 July 1944 of the 39th Army to 32nd Engineer Sapper Brigade Major Aleksandr Ivanovich Kremnev.

Like the Orders Books, the "Government Printing Office" edition note is made on these too-- at lower right, this form was printed in 1943.

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There were TWO series Books produced as 1945 editions. In one, the serial number of the Book itself-- always a key to the convoluted Soviet recordskeeping system-- bears a number only, just like pre-war Books. In other 1945 Books, an initial "A" precedes the serial number of the Book, found at the bottom of the awards page.

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Some of the 1945 Books bear a photograph of the recipient facing the page bearing the recipient's name, and the line for a signature is now moved below the box for the photograph.

Photos were then rubber stamped by the UNIT after recieving it... or not. It is impossible to determine (without archives research) whether an unstamped photo is legitimate or added later-- by either the original recipient, or some unscruplous seller. From now on, the box for a photograph will bear a rubber stamp stating "Valid Without Photograph."

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Nothing on a 1945's edition page distinguishes between one with a "numbers only" Book serial number, or an "A serial number" Book.

The 1945 books have thin covers, poorly printed, with chopped out edges that trail hairy threads, like the example on top.

These were used into 1946. While there were 1945 and 1946 MEDALS Book editions (another subject to itself), I have never actually seen a 1946 edition Orders Book-- apparently enough "number" and "A number" books were printed to fill immediate post-war needs. There is an entry page for a "B serial" (our "B") Orders Book show in McDaniel and Schmitt, which I can only assume was a 1946 Edition from the chronology.

Has anyone got one of those they can post?

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By the 1947 "16 republics" (8 left, 1 bottom, 7 right) edition, in alphabetical Cyrillic series "V serial" (looks like our "B") thick pre-war quality covers like that at bottom had returned.

A 1945 is always immediately identifiable, on sight, by its flat covers and stringy edges.

And here I will pause, at the end of the 1940s, before tackling the MULTIPLE editions of the 1950s "G serials."

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In 1947*, the "G serial" Orders Books came out. But unlike the previous types, which seem to have matched a specific letter to a specific year, there were at least FIVE* edition years which shared the "G" series.

Faced with the massive number of awards during the war, these Books introduced two facing full length pages for many more awards, with not only the serial number, but the actual award authorization date.

This is the common format for entries:


* new information retro-edited from following pages-- read on!!!!

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Some 1950s Orders Books contained photographs of the recipient. Notice that these two air force officers, from a 1950 (top) and 1952 (bottom) edition "G series" Book both have the common postwar German-style "Feldpost" unit number stamp attesting to their identities, and no signatures underneath. Whether this was the usual sloppiness (signatures were omitted more and more commonly over the years) or the stamping certification rendered an autograph unnecessary, I don't know.


I'd be interested in other collectors' general impressions of the relative numbers of Orders Books with and without photos, after WW2. I'd say that fewer than 10% had photographs.

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After four editions in the same "G series," the next types of Orders Book I have encountered jump ahead to

1957-- and with that single year, there are TWO series:

following the Cyrillic alphabet, "D serial" and "Ye serial" (the latter our letter "E")

Despite the 1956 change in the Soviet seal from 16 Republics (8-1-7) to 15 (7-1-7), BOTH these 1957 series continued to display the M1946 16 Republics seal on their covers!

Oddly enough, with only these two in my collection, BOTH "1957" Books were not actually used until the flood of Orders of the Badge of Honor bestowals in 1966-67.

Has anyone got a "D" or "Ye" 1957 actually used between 1957-65?

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And to conclude the "1950s," here is a most atypical photo in the "D series" double OBH Book above, rubber stamped from the Supreme Soviet Presidium just like pre-WW2 Books were.

I have never seen a "Yo series" (Cyrillic "?") before 1967 edition Ж "Zh series," nor any "Z series" (letter "3") before 1967 edition И "I series." The two 1967 edition series Books, "Zh serial" and "I serial" were used at least until 1980.

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Here are the two known 1967 editions of Order Books. Both have hard covers and the only apparant difference to the earlier edition is the missing stamp on the photo page. I guess, that the number of photos in these later editions is even smaller than in the editions of the 50s.

The photo and personal data page:

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