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Bulgarian Order for Bravery 1st class - super rare!


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Rarest of the rare - cross of Order for Bravery 1st class, 1915 version. No star.

See comparison to 2nd class cross in 2nd photo, 1st class is on the right and noticeably larger.  

Some people are so lucky to have these extra rare awards in their collection...

 

IMG_9345.jpg

IMG_9346.jpg

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  • 6 months later...

https://www.emedals.com/auctions/bulgaria-kingdom-a-military-order-of-bravery-knight-grand-officer-c-1900

Bulgaria, Kingdom. A Military Order of Bravery, Knight Grand Officer, c.1900

(Военна ордена на смелостта, Гранд Крос). Instituted in 1880. Type II. A white enameled Maltese cross with crossed swords, obverse centre with crowned Bulgarian lion on red enamel, green enamel surround, reverse centre with cipher of Price Alexander of Battenberg on a red enameled backing, green enamel surround with 1879 date, measuring 58.5 mm (w) x 85.5 mm (h - inclusive of its crown suspension), intact enamels, extremely fine.

 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by Igor Ostapenko
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https://www.emedals.com/auctions/bulgaria-kingdom-a-military-order-of-bravery-knight-grand-officer-c-1900

Bulgaria, Kingdom. A Military Order of Bravery, Knight Grand Officer, c.1900

(Военна ордена на смелостта, Гранд Крос). Instituted in 1880. Type II. A white enameled Maltese cross with crossed swords, obverse centre with crowned Bulgarian lion on red enamel, green enamel surround, reverse centre with cipher of Price Alexander of Battenberg on a red enameled backing, green enamel surround with 1879 date, measuring 58.5 mm (w) x 85.5 mm (h - inclusive of its crown suspension), intact enamels, extremely fine.

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sold for $3420 ($2851 sale price + 20% buyer premium)

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  • 11 months later...
  • 1 year later...
  • 10 months later...

Supposedly this is 1st class set of Bravery Order. However, it looks like a mismatched set:

1) Star from 1st class, 68 mm wide.

2) Cross is from 2nd class:

- height is 73 mm,

- width is 52 mm (which is measurement of 2nd class). 1st class should be 59 mm wide.

 

Bravery_1.jpg

Bravery_2.jpg

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17 hours ago, Igor Ostapenko said:

Of course - cross second class 

So, what do you think is happening here:

- Seller is trying to deceive,

- Seller really doesn't know the difference?

17 hours ago, Igor Ostapenko said:

 

 

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New World,

 

You are correct with your assessment It is Second Class Cross.

Knowing the seller I am more inclined to pick the first possibility  I will be very surprised if he sells it because on such level there are only few collectors and i suppose they are with a good knowledge. 

Also what is bothering me that the seller did not display the reverse of the Star, like he did for other countries stars

 

Best

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Somewhere here, if I remember correctly, there is a post describing fake first class 68 mm. Bravery Order stars.  Wasn't the most obvious characteristic the reverse rivet fastener?  I can't find that post could someone refer to it please?

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, 922F said:

Somewhere here, if I remember correctly, there is a post describing fake first class 68 mm. Bravery Order stars.  Wasn't the most obvious characteristic the reverse rivet fastener?  I can't find that post could someone refer to it please?

I know exactly what you mean, I once bought a copy with such fastener (I was lucky to be able to return it). I'll try to search for pics on my old PC drive.

 

It looks like star in the latest "set" has enamel cracks on the left side of top and bottom arms, which is a good indication that it's hard enamel. If that is the case chances are that star is real.

Edited by new world
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Hi 922F,

 

Here are pictures with fake or copy Star -first three pictures

and the Original the last three picture

You can compare the difference

 

Still,  i want to see the reverse to be convinced, however as New World stated cracks mean hard enamel it is a step to identify the Star is it Original or Copy/Fake one

 

Best

COPY.jpg

COPY (2).jpg

COPY MOT,I.Kl.Bruststern $3000,-- (bitouch123)12.jpg

original front.jpg

original back.jpg

496.JPG

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Thank you Graf!  I am a bit surprized that the left sword hilt on the genuine piece has a stippled pattern rather that a knurled one.  Is the reverse fastener a simple nut or a rivet type nut?  I do not have mine to hand to compare.

 

Somewhere I have an image made about 1995 of one with a rounded type fitting at the reverse center. 

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On 13/03/2021 at 10:14, 922F said:

Somewhere here, if I remember correctly, there is a post describing fake first class 68 mm. Bravery Order stars.  Wasn't the most obvious characteristic the reverse rivet fastener?  I can't find that post could someone refer to it please?

I think you are referring to photo in this thread:

 

 

Bulg_Bravery_R.jpg

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Hi 922F,

The picture New World listed, from another forum, is of fake Star but with better finish

I found a picture of same fitting, sold as original on on of the Auction in Europe

 

BTW The sword on the left is the same as the sword on the right are the same simply photo illusion.

 

 

 

4301889l.jpg

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On 16/03/2021 at 07:25, new world said:

I think you are referring to photo in this thread:

 

 

Bulg_Bravery_R.jpg

 

Just to clarify, the fake in this photo and the link (the one which was sold to me long time ago) is a partial fake:

- Center part on the front is real, with hard enamels,

- Cross with white enamel is fake - soft enamel and weird finish on the back.

 

It looks like someone found parts of old award and made missing parts from scratch.

      

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Thanks to all.   Graf, I appreciate your clarification regarding the sword hilt.

 

I mentioned above a 1995 image of a reverse with round 'button' fitting.  Found it but the picture dates from a visit to Sofia in 1980!!!   The 'button' height was about 1.25 mm.  Sorry, cannot find photo of obverse or the owner's name at present.   Has anyone seen a definite genuine piece with such a button'?    

 

The owner had an enormous collection and lived on the top floor of a very exclusive building on what is now Boulevard General Mihail D. Skobelev or Boulevard Pencho Slaveykov maybe 3 blocks from the National Palace of Culture Park.  [I'm not only confused about dates but locations too!]  He had a small apartment on the roof of the building that housed his collection.  He was about 55-60 years old in 1980, last visited him in 1987 or '88.   Most likely, he either had very good connections in the government or was an official.  He spoke English and French besides Bulgarian and Russian at least.  Perhaps someone here remembers him?

 

 

BG BR Star back E.jpg

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Hi 922F,

 

From the picture and the information it looks like this is an Original Star. The finish of the surface is quite genuine to me, although i have not handle an original with this type of fitting.

At that time not many people in Bulgaria would be able to collect Royal Orders.

Many of those items were in the hands of high officials or well connected to them people with good income.

It was romoured, however i can not confirm that The mentor of late Prof Pavlov was a very famous Bulgarian Crime story writer Bogomil Raynov. He was well connected to the high profile people at that time. Again it was rumoured that he had one of the most advanced advanced collection of Bulgarian Royal Orders in Bulgaria

The fakes with the similar round fittings appeared  around 10 years ago and distributed by a seller on eBay.

I assume they used Originals as examples

Later on they found the way in Auctions in Europe and in dealers sites.

Now days they are not as often on the market as 10 years ago.

 

Perhaps some of the collectors from Bulgaria can answer your question about the identity of this collector you saw on few occasions in Bulgaria.

 

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Thank you, Graf!!!    

I will continue searching for the obverse image of this star.

 

I looked at images of Bogomil Raynov but just do not remember the face well enough.  The man that I knew almost always smiled and was, as the French say, très très sympa.   Raynov's expression in images found on the Internet appear quite dour.    My  acquaintance  certainly had complete understanding of royal Bulgarian and foreign awards.  His collection included any number of 'classic' European decorations in addition to the full range of Bulgarian material. 

 

There was a small staircase in his main apartment that led up to the upper one so one did not have to go outside.   We drank Chateau d'Euxinograd wine which was extremely difficult to find in Sofia at the time.  A sort of concierge who did not appear to be a typical guard attended the entry of the building; you had to have permission to enter. 

 

If someone knew Raynov's address and remembers the upper apartment, that might settle the matter.   Cannot imagine many Bulgarians having such an arrangement in 1980!

 

 

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9 hours ago, 922F said:

Thank you, Graf!!!    

I will continue searching for the obverse image of this star.

 

I looked at images of Bogomil Raynov but just do not remember the face well enough.  The man that I knew almost always smiled and was, as the French say, très très sympa.   Raynov's expression in images found on the Internet appear quite dour.    My  acquaintance  certainly had complete understanding of royal Bulgarian and foreign awards.  His collection included any number of 'classic' European decorations in addition to the full range of Bulgarian material. 

 

There was a small staircase in his main apartment that led up to the upper one so one did not have to go outside.   We drank Chateau d'Euxinograd wine which was extremely difficult to find in Sofia at the time.  A sort of concierge who did not appear to be a typical guard attended the entry of the building; you had to have permission to enter. 

 

If someone knew Raynov's address and remembers the upper apartment, that might settle the matter.   Cannot imagine many Bulgarians having such an arrangement in 1980!

 

 

Here is an article about robbery of Raynov's home:

https://www.168chasa.bg/article/2375452

 

There are some medals mentioned in the list of stolen items.

 

Also, apparently he had large art and books collection, which you likely saw if you visited his home.

At the bottom of the page there are photos his house and apartment building - do they look familiar?

 

More:

https://blitz.bg/article/18802

http://bolgari.org/oshte_prizhive_bogomil_rainov__stopil__domashniia_si_muzei-el-916.html

https://www.marica.bg/balgariq/100-g-ot-rojdenieto-na-bogomil-rajnov

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Thank you New World for all of this fascinating information!   The apartment I visited was not down by the Russian Church but near the Palace of Culture Park, maybe 3 blocks northeast from the Park.  The building architecture was somewhat similar but maybe 5-6 stories tall with at least one small one bedroom apartment on the roof.  Entry was in the middle of the front facade of the building.  It was on the right side of the street, most likely on Bvd. Skobelev, as you face the park.

 

There were a large number of filled bookshelves in main apartment rooms that I saw.  I recall there were a number of art works on the walls but didn't pay attention to them.   

 

The main room upstairs was quite full of cabinets and boxes.  Cases on the wall displayed decorations, mainly Socialist awards and Military Bravery crosses.  I well remember among other treasures kept in cabinets a large cased Cyril & Methodius collar, a cased C & M set in the blue case with silver-gilt/enamel crown on lid [first year issued, supposedly] and a St. Alexander collar set with military badge & star.   The gentleman had a large wooden desk that seemed as if it took about 1/4 of the room space and a very comfortable overstuffed chair for guests.  In good weather, you could sit at a table out on the roof.  He had silverware from one of the palaces, think with Ferdinand's monogram.

 

We originally met at the Saturday Club for coins and medals off Tsar Boris I and Han Asparuh Streets.    The apartment was  a few blocks from the Club.  I met a number of other collectors at Club; we sometimes went to the park by St. George's to discuss 'trades'.  After several visits, some of them invited me to their homes, usually out in apartment blocks beyond the train station.  The Club meeting moved to a different location near a large park some years later.

 

From the news stories, [if it was Raynov] I wonder if the place I visited was one of his 'hideaways' or in someone else's name.    That might explain why when I visited without meeting at Club first, I had to arrange an appointment by 'public' telephone in advance.

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Hi 922F,

 

Although the person who met was not Raynov, the scenario you met this collector sounds like one of Bobomil Raynov crime books.

I only mentioned his name because who has very advanced collection. i assume they could be few other Bulgarian collectors during this time.

 

Recently i was contacted by a person who wanted to act as middleman to sell his "friend" collection His friend had a very advanced collection that was passed to him by his late father. He was reluctant to sell it in Bulgaria. According to him his father was not a big shot during the Communist period. However he has decent income and big interest in Bulgarian Orders and decorations  That led me to the thought that there had to be few collectors like his father and they their collections in secret. You might have met one of them.

i will not list any pictures of this collections due to privacy and security  reasons (many of our listings including pictures can be found easily on internet )

 

BTW i did not go with the negotiations  and the deal due to some concerns ..and also I am in a dormant stage at the moment with my collecting

 

Best

 

Graf

 

 

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Hi 922F,

 

Your story is a fascinated one, even if it was not Raynov.

 

Not everyone was able to put together such great collection, it was certainly off limits for an ordinary collector during communist time.

 

First, rare awards were always super expensive and not affordable on a regular salary. One had to have extra sources of income, often illegal ones, like having secret factory to make things in high demand - clothes, shoes, etc. Such entrepreneurs vigorously protected they identities and did not display their wealth, did not buy expensive items, because that could create unnecessary attention from the authorities and would lead to jail time and confiscation of illegal gains and property.

 

Second, awards were considered antiques and dealing in antiques was prohibited, it was considered illegal trade, and such dealers were treated as parasites. There were laws against such activities, again resulting in jail and confiscation.

 

Lastly, tsarist awards were against the ideology and collecting them was not encouraged.

 

Considering above points I would guess the collector you met was someone well connected to party and government, perhaps someone famous - like a writer, artist, professor, scientist, or perhaps a retired military or law enforcement. Someone who was allowed exceptions from the laws and with whom the law enforcement was closing their eyes on his activities. Considering that your host was inviting people to his apartment to see the collection, I think his hobby was not a secret to the authorities.   

 

If it was not Raynov, do you think it could be one of the people who researched the awards and later wrote the books on the subject - someone like Prof. Pavlov or T. Petrov?  

     

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Hello New World,

I reviewed the one photo I have of Tudor Petrov and could not be sure if he was my man.  Do not have a photo of Professor Pavlov.  Probably the apartment location will be key to identifying him. 

 

After my first visit to Bulgaria in 1979, I often had 'minders' intermittently keeping track of me.  After 5-6 visits, they knew my routine and usual activities.   This did result in no longer meeting some in their homes but always in public places, parks, bars...  I visited only two people in their apartments regularly over the years.  I'm sure that the gentleman I visited most often had excellent connections/protection, not only due to the apartment and collection.    He definitely had access to top level  privileges.   Maybe because I was a foreigner he felt able to display his collection [and sell a few things]? 

 

I suspect, even not being overly paranoid, that any Bulgarians I had contact with sometimes 3 times a year over almost 20 years [1979-1999] could expect DS interest.  Someone who would be 'allowed' to see me at home must have had strong political social connections.  Certainly some members of the Club and some antique dealers were obviously looking for foreigners, especially Germans.  I do not speak German but would constantly be  addressed in German.   And this by the same people over 6-8 years!

 

 

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