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Bulgarian St Alexander Grand Cross from recent auction - questions


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Bulgarian St Alexander Grand Cross set was sold last week at an auction for 6000 Euro + buyer premium, around $9000.
 
I was talking to some collectors about this award and few interesting observations were made casting doubts on this set.
 
1) Cross seems to be not from Grand Cross grade, but from a lower class:
- It has massive loop on top like on Commander crosses, that loop should not be on the Grand Cross, because the cross is attached to sash with separate carbine type device. Massive loop is really for wearing on a neck ribbon.
- Crown looks too small proportionally, it should be larger.
It's curious that auction listing does not list dimensions of the cross, almost like they knew something's not right.
2) There's no sash, no photos of both cross and star in the box. Is it because it would be obvious that cross looks smaller than it's supposed to be?  
3) Box - it looks newer than comparable boxes for the same grade. Specifically gold print looks shinier and brighter than on other boxes, like it was done recently. 
 
What do you think?

SA_920_4.jpeg

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Hi new world,

I do not see anything wrong with the order itself - looks like a decent grant cross set, minus the sash, as you already mentioned. 

The loops you are referring to are not necessarily exclusive to 2nd/3rd class crosses - I believe that the majority of late Boris III high class issues I've seen, actually feature such loop. Similar is the case with SS Cyril and Methodius grand crosses.

The crown/cross ratio appears to be fine to me. Later I will try to  create a side-by-side visual comparison, for reference later today.

The only odd thing is the immaculate condition of the box. Then again, we don't know where it was kept al those years (assuming it's genuine, of course) - this could be one of those awards which were left with their paper sleeve on in a bank vault for decades (though, this contradicts with the missing sash?) 

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Hi New World,

It is difficult to say without knowing the size

You are correct that the loop is not supposed to be there

The crown is not quite indicative. I found big crowns go with the civil models without the swords in the middle.

Also the size and the spread of the text on the reverse medallion is more likely for a Grand Cross The commanders tend to have a bit more condensed text.

However again we are only speculating Regarding  the box - you have good points Although it looks new  the box looks is a bit damaged around the edges, however this can be done on purpose. Again it is difficult to judge unless you hold the box in hands and closely inspect with some boxes in the  existing literature.

Again because we do not have the size it is a tough call, although your arguments are quite convincing
 

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I agree that it's not an ideal situation to discuss awards based only on the photos, but that's the best we have in this situation. Unless a member forum bought this award and decides to share more details with us.  

As far as awards were put away and not being worn - there are signs of wear:

1) Damage to enamel on the cross - front of left arm along the edge and back of right arm.

2) Loss on gold plating on top of the cross under the loop. This was caused by cross being lifted and rubbed against the lower edge of the crown.

These signs of wear likely were not created by a single wear, we should assume cross was worn several times. Oddly the star does not have visible signs of wear, which could be explained that only the cross was worn. One can treat this as a supporting evidence for the theory that cross was added to this set, but it's just a speculation.

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Here's a visual comparison between this cross (white background) and other examples of grand and commander crosses (black background). I drew some horizontal lines to make it easier to see the ratios. 

A couple of things to keep in mind: all the crosses were visually fit to size based on the diameter of the arms (hence, this is a broad assumption that: a/ all images were taken 'straight on' and ignoring the inevitable tiling of the camera; b/ the original manufacturers kept the sizes of the crosses the same)

Hope it helps.

grandcross.jpg

commander.jpg

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2 hours ago, ilieff said:

Here's a visual comparison between this cross (white background) and other examples of grand and commander crosses (black background). I drew some horizontal lines to make it easier to see the ratios. 

A couple of things to keep in mind: all the crosses were visually fit to size based on the diameter of the arms (hence, this is a broad assumption that: a/ all images were taken 'straight on' and ignoring the inevitable tiling of the camera; b/ the original manufacturers kept the sizes of the crosses the same)

 

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Thank you for the effort, but these comparisons are only valid if we compare crosses of the SAME sizes. 

Main problem is that auction house conveniently excluded dimensions of the cross from description of this lot. For the Grand Cross size of the cross is 54 mm, for 2nd class crosses with neck loop size is 50 mm - that's big difference, which will drastically change the scale of your comparison. 

Also, looking at your comparison I see that loop on top of cross on the left (known Grand Cross) in 1st comparison is thinner than on cross in the middle (from recent auction), which probably means that cross on the left is larger in size, hence making the crown larger as well.

 

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14 hours ago, new world said:

Thank you for the effort, but these comparisons are only valid if we compare crosses of the SAME sizes. 

Main problem is that auction house conveniently excluded dimensions of the cross from description of this lot. For the Grand Cross size of the cross is 54 mm, for 2nd class crosses with neck loop size is 50 mm - that's big difference, which will drastically change the scale of your comparison. 

You're right. However, I am not comparing crosses of different classes to each other, per se, but rather the cross we are discussing with the two possible classes in separate images. The intention of the comparison was to compare the crosses when scaled to the size of the two possible variants, hence I uploaded two images and not one. 

If we are to set the initial scale of the crosses of a single grade to be of identical diameter within a given image, then proportions will remain the same (with the disclaimer i note above, of course). 

The second image compares the cross to a grand officer's and commander crosses, again scaled to fit the size of the cross we are discussing. If it was indeed a 2nd class cross, with the diameters of the crosses set to scale, all the remaining features will be to scale, as well.

Either way, the chances of someone acquiring a lone 2nd class cross with swords and 'marrying' it to an orphaned grand cross star (again with swords), only to then manufacture a replica box for the new 'set', is highly unlikely, in my opinion.

14 hours ago, new world said:

Also, looking at your comparison I see that loop on top of cross on the left (known Grand Cross) in 1st comparison is thinner than on cross in the middle (from recent auction), which probably means that cross on the left is larger in size, hence making the crown larger as well.

I believe this is caused by the slight tilt of the cross in the image with white background. Either way, it is all speculation :)

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Hi,

The more I look the Set the more I think that the Star and the Cross are not King  Ferdinand model.

Also it is very strange for a Grand Cross Set not to be marked at all.

The Austrian and French makers usually marked their Sets. especially if they are silver gilded.

This strange Set is more likely early King Boris German made one That is why the crown is not as big as the ones of the King Ferdinand model. Most likely the Set was made piece by piece< I do not believe the box was made especially for the Set later on.  The missing sash is a mystery because they are not very rare

Why the Auction House did not provide more information. My explanation is that  this was an Auction mainly for rare coins where the prices reached 450 000 Euro  plus com. Why bother to spend time and effort when the initial estimate for the St Alex Set was 1500 Euro only and the final price was 6 000 Euro  only . Also only limited Orders were included in the Auction. It is less likely they did hid the details to fool unsuspected buyers.

 

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Well, it could be a version to consider, but the award was sold as attributed to a German General, who served during WWI, so he had to be awarded during Ferdinand time, as after 1918 German Empire did not exist:

"Aus dem direkten Nachlaß des Generals der Kavallerie Ludwig Moritz Camillo Freiherr von Müller (1854-1943), Generaladjutant König Friedrich August III. von Sachsen (1865-1932, reg. von 1905 bis 1918). "

 So, here you have a discrepancy and his award must be manufactured during Ferdinand period. 

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