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Decorations of King Aleksandar Obrenović


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About a year ago I started a separate topic about king Milan's decorations here. In the meantime I've acquired the book "Glory and honor, decorations among Serbs - Serbs among Decorations" (original title "Слава и част, одликовања међу Србима - Срби међу одликовањима") by Mr. Dragomir Acović in which the author gives us the complete lists of decorations of Montenegrin king Nikola I Petrović, king Milan and king Aleksandar Karađorđević among others. So far I wasn't able to find a list of decorations of king Aleksandar Obrenović so I'll do my best to make one myself based on available information and various portraits and photos found online. 
Making a list of his domestic decorations is not so hard job but there are couple of medals I'm not sure about.
SERBIA
-Order of St. Price Lazar
-Order of Miloš the Great 1st Class
-Order of the White Eagle 1st Class
-Order of the Cross of Takovo 1st Class
-Order of St. Sava 1st Class
-Order of the Red Cross

Now the harder part - medals. On Vlaho Bukovac's portrait from 1900 we can see that Aleksandar is wearing 3 medals on his medal bar - between St. Sava and the Commemorative Cross of the War of 1885-86. It appears that the first medal's ribbon is red and blue while the remaining two have red, blue and white combinations. Based on that my guess is that they are: Medal for Zealous Service in War of 1885-86, Medal Commemorating April 1st 1893 and Commemorative Medal of the 60 Years of King's Guard.
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Edited by paja
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Here's one more photo with very similar medal bar. Few differences - first of all he's not wearing Order of Miloš the Great. Seems to me, based on the shape, that the first medal could be Medal Commemorating 40 Years since St. Andrew's Day Assembly. One more difference - he's wearing a medal after 1885-86 War Cross. If that is April 1st of 1893 Medal then it is worn according to the order of precedence which at that time was as follows:
-Golden Bravery Medal
-Silver Bravery Medal
-Medal for Devotion
-40 Years since St. Andrew's Day Assembly
-Medal for Military Virtues 
-Golden Medal for Zealous Serice
-Silver Medal for Zealous Service
-1876-78 War Commemorative Medal
-60 Years of King's Guard 
-1885-86 War Cross
-Restoration of the Kingdom Medal
-April 1st of 1893 
-Red Cross Order

Based on that I'd say his medal bar consists of:
1) Order of the White Eagle
2) Order of the Cross of Takovo
3) Order of St. Sava
4) 40 Years since St. Andrew's Day Assembly 
5) 60 Years of King's Guard 
6) 1885-86 War Cross
7) April 1st of 1893 
8) Red Cross Order
01.jpg
 

Edited by paja
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Order of St. Price Lazar, Order of the White Eagle and I presume Order of the Holy Sepulchre (Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem). I think the 2nd and 3rd image are from 1889.
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AUSTRIA-HUNGARY
-Order of St. Stephen

FRANCE
-Legion of Honor

RUSSIA
-Order of St. Andrew (star below Legion of Honor) 
-Order of St. Alexander Nevsky (around his neck?)
-Order of St. Stanislaus (bellow Lazar)

SERBIA
-Order of St. Prince Lazar
-Order of the White Eagle

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Edited by paja
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Here's one more very interesting one, perhaps made at the same occasion. I'm pretty sure that's Order of St. Andrew below Legion of Honor. Perhaps he's wearing that order's sash as well. 
I have found him among the recipients on Russian Wiki page.
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Two more portraits from 1894 and 1895, the king is now wearing 3 more stars, Takovo, St. Sava and Montenegrin Order of Danilo. Also he's in general's uniform, not a colonel's as above.
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This photo was made in 1896 during visit to Serbian Orthodox Monastery Hilandar on Mount Athos.
If I'm not mistaken king is wearing Ottoman Imtiyaz Order (Al-i İmtiyaz Nişanı) and two medals above medal bar, perhaps Golden and Silver Imtiyaz Medals. I have a photo of his father (1898) wearing two very similar medals, we presumed they are Imtiyaz Medals.
It's interesting that Turkish officer on the right is wearing Takovo and White Eagle. It's possible that the one on the left if wearing Takovo 1st class but I'm not sure. 
We can see some familiar faces among king's adjutants, I'm pretty sure the general is Dragutin Fransović (Драгутин Франсовић) who was minister of war at the time. Besides him future vojvoda Živojin Mišić (Живојин Мишић), Ilija Ćirić (Илија Ћирић) and Mihailo Rašić (Михаило Рашић). Unfortunately I'm not sure about others... Senior officer in the right corner looks very familiar, does anyone recognize him?
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One of the last photos of king and queen. Aleksandar is wearing sash of the Austro-Hungarian Order of St. Stephen.
I think the general behind them is Lazar Petrović (Лазар Петровић), king's adjutant.
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Interesting coincidence, I wanted to start this topic for a long time and when I finally did so I noticed "The Ribbon Bar Attributed to King Alexander Obrenovitch of Serbia" here: http://www.emedals.com/newly-listed/the-ribbon-bar-attributed-to-king-alexander-i-obrenovitch-of-serbia

I think it's pretty obvious it can't be authentic, if we disregard how it looks like, the combination itself is impossible! Needles to say I've never seen any photo or portrait of the king with remotely similar medal bar...

Here's the whole description: "Order of the Milosh the Great (1898-1903), 4th Class Breast Badge; Order of the White Eagle, 4th Class Breast Badge, Type I; Order of Takovo, 3rd Class Breast Badge, Type I; Order of St. Sava, 4th Class Breast Badge, Type I; Red Cross Order; Order of Queen Draga, Breast Badge; Order of Natalie, 1st Class Breast Badge, Type I; "Gold" Medal for the Proclamation of the Kingdom 1882; Medal for the Constitution 1893; and Medal for the Fortieth Anniversary of the Restoration of the Obrenovitch Dynasty 1898. Mounted in a contemporary court-style, original ribbon with hooks where the awards once resided, inscribed in handwritten black ink and in cyrillic script "Alexander I King of Serbia" on the reverse, 43 mm x 238 mm, light age soiling, near extremely fine.

Footnote: The "Gold" Medal for the Proclamation of the Kingdom 1882 ribbon in the eighth position is exceedingly rare, as the medal was only awarded to the King and High Ranking Officials.

Provenance: This particular ribbon bar, accompanied by the corresponding awards, was sold through Spinks & Son, Lot 502. This item comes with a copy of the auction page."

-Let's start from the beginning, the color of the first ribbon seems too dark for Miloš.
-On the 5th place we have ribbon for the 1st type of the Red Cross Order. I don't think it's very likely that he would wear the first type after 1898, another question is - could he have been awarded with that order while being younger than 6... On the photos and portraits from that period which I have  posted so far in the topic he wears it on the last place. 
-Next two are very interesting, Draga and Natalija medals worn by a man?? Plus Draga ribbon looks more like a ribbon for the Star of Karađorđe...
-I have never seen king Aleksandar with the Medal for the Proclamation of the Kingdom. The Law was clear, the medal was to be awarded to the king (Milan), MPs and ministers!

I have a thing or two to add, unfortunately I'm in a hurry so I'll have to finish my reply later...

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Edited by paja
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Let's continue, I talked about decorations that shouldn't be on the medal bar but there are some that are missing, first of all Cross commemorating 1885-86 War. Earlier I wrote about the "three medals", my guess was that they are:
-40 Years since St. Andrew's Day Assembly
-60 Years of King's Guard
-April 1st of 1893
We can see ribbons for the St. Andrew's Day Assembly Anniversary and April 1st but not 60 years of King's Guard. 
I might be wrong, that medal might not be the King's Guards Anniversary Medal but it certainly isn't Natalija or Draga. The king is obviously wearing 3 medals on his medal bar and that one, whether King's Guard Medal or not, is definitely missing. 

One more thing is very suspicious - the order of precedence. I know it was being changed occasionally, but the order of precedence seen on this medal bar is highly unusual and contrary to regulations.

Edited by paja
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Next thing, classes of orders. When we looks at the photos we can see that the king is wearing Takovo 5th class, so I presume he's wearing the lowest classes on his medal bar, Miloš 4th class and the White Eagle, Takovo and St. Sava 5th class. The description says White Eagle and Sava 4th class and Takovo "3rd Class Breast Badge, Type I". This kind of puzzled me but I think I've figured out what it might mean, provided that it's not a mistake. When instituted in 1876 Takovo Cross had 2 classes, worn around the neck and on the breast. In 1877 one more class was added, the grand cross, and then in 1878 according to the new law Takovo had 5 classes. The 5th class from 1878, 3rd class from 1877 and 2nd class from 1876 look pretty much the same. So "3rd Class Breast Badge, Type I" could mean 3rd class from 1877, but that can't be true, it makes no sense whatsoever. 
The painting I posted in the first reply gives us the answer about the classes and confirms what I just wrote.
White Eagle and St. Sava on Aleksandar's medal bar are silver.

Edited by paja
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One more thing caught my attention, it's not the first time I see medal bar with the "recipient's" name inscribed on the back side. Around 2 years ago there was one on ebay attributed to general Sava Grujić, the seller was from UK. Anyway here are the photos, I think it's not original and it certainly couldn't have belonged to general Grujić.
One should be very careful when acquiring Serbian/Yugoslav medal bars, there are people out there who make them today out of the old ribbons or combination of old and new ones!
Grana 11.1.JPG
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And one more attributed to medical general Jordan Stajić. I first noticed it around 5 years ago, after that it appeared several more times on various Serbian auction sites, sometimes with decorations. I posted it once before on GMIC and we thought it's original but now I'm not so sure, I think it's not.
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I found a decent photo of the general with medal bar here. Not all of the medals are recognizable but based on this photo I think it's safe to conclude his medal bar didn't look like the one attributed to him. 
Based on his uniform I'd say the photo was made post 1927 and, according to information I found online, he was retired in 1933 upon personal request.
I think the medal bar on the photo also consists of 12 decorations, same as above, but some of them are different and the same goes for the order in which they are placed. 

Photo:
01) Order of the Star of Karađorđe (I checked, he also received Karađorđe with Swords 4th class, according to regulations it is suspended from the 2nd buttonhole)
02) Order of the White Eagle 5th Class (with swords or not? - 4th class suspended from the 3rd buttonhole according to regulations and 3rd class around the neck)
03) Unrecognizable medal, according to the order of precedence it might be Obilić or Petar I Coronation Medal but who knows. It certainly isn't St. Sava nor Yugoslav Crown (photo might be from the period prior to its institution but then again if he added it up later the medal bar would have 13 decorations)
04) Albanian Retreat Medal, 4th place vs 11th place above!
05) Medal for Military Virtues, not even present above and it's not very likely that he would have received it near the end of career as a two star general
06, 07, 08) Not recognizable, we can only guess 
09) Red Cross Order, here in front of medals commemorating wars above in front of all medals
10) First Balkan War Commemorative Medal
11) Second Balkan War Commemorative Medal (looks like the medal itself is missing)
12) First World War Commemorative Medal

Medal bar:
01) Order of the Star of Karađorđe 
02) Order of the White Eagle
03) Order of the Yugoslav Crown 
04) Order of St. Sava (He's wearing 3rd class on the photo so I don't think he would have been awarded with the lower class later)
05) Order of the Red Cross
06) Perhaps something foreign?
07) Petar I Coronation Medal
08) Charity Cross (not wearing it in the photo)
09) First Balkan War Commemorative Medal
10) Second Balkan War Commemorative Medal 
11) Albanian Retrat Medal
12) First World War Commemorative Medal

By the way it's interesting to see that the general was also decorated with the Order of St. Michael and St. George (Companion), Legion of Honor (Officer) and the Order of the Redeemer (Knight or Officer).
Stajic Jordan.jpg

Edited by paja
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Now back to king Aleksandar, on this nice wedding photo we can see his medal bar.
Like in some previous cases I believe it consists of:
01) Order of Miloš the Great 4th Class
02) Order of White Eagle 5th Class
03) Order of the Cross of Takovo 5th Class (can't say for sure based on the photo but I don't see what else could it be)
04) Order of St. Sava 5th Class
05) St. Andrew's Day Assembly Anniversary Medal (seems to me that the medal is not round)
06) King's Guard Anniversary Medal (vaguely visible head?)
07) 1885-86 War Commemorative Medal
08) April 1st Medal (what esle could it be?)
09) Red Cross Order

He's also wearing stars of the Order of Miloš (its sash as well), Order of St. Andrew, Legion of Honor, White Eagle, Takovo and St. Sava.
01.jpg

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A portrait by Nikola Milojević from 1898. Medal bar is just partially visible but I think next to the "black cross" is golden medal with something that resembles Aleksandar's profile which can be seen on the King's Guard Medal. 
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On 10/10/2016 at 19:28, paja said:

Provenance: This particular ribbon bar, accompanied by the corresponding awards, was sold through Spinks & Son, Lot 502. This item comes with a copy of the auction page."
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Does anyone happen to have photos of this medal bar "accompanied by the corresponding awards"? Even though the medal bar can't be authentic that's still a very impressive set of decorations! 

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Alas, Barry does not give the date of the auction which is not very helpful I'll see what I can rustle up.

Paul

I have checked the Spink archive, it has to be 2003 or earlier, prior to the Archive, if someone can find out the date I may be able to lay my hands on the catalogue

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