Book Review by José Vicente de Bragança, Vice-President of AFP (Academia Falerística de Portugal)
Published in Bulletin «Pro Phalaris», # 17, July 2018, AFP (http://www.acd-faleristica.com/archives/4982)
pp. 29-31, and pp. 37-39 in English
«In 2017, the XI European Conference of Phaleristic Societies took place at the Tallinn Museum of Orders of Knighthood, Estonia, organized by Dominique Heneresse, from Paris, and Catherine Lapinsh – Head Curator of the Museum.
This XI Conference – as the organization decided to call it, adopting the designation that made school at the OMRS London Meeting, in 2015 – was unique in several respects. First of all, the host organization was not a Phaleristic Association, but rather the recent Tallinn Orders of Knighthood Museum, a reputed institution that houses the collection of a great private Russian collector. And for the first time, the Tallinn Museum management decided in good time to promote the publication of small-volume with the Communications, which we are happy to register.
The Program included 7 Communications on Phaleristics, by distinguished phalerists or Museum Curators, namely:
Catherine Lapinsh, Chief Curator of the Museum of the Order of Cavalry in Tallinn – Receiving the XI European Conference of Phaleristic Associations.
Stephen Patterson, Head of Collections Information Management, Royal Collection Trust – «”Honours at Sea”: King Edward VII’s State Visit to Russia. Reval 1908»
Liudmila Gavrilova, Head of the Phaleristics department of the Kremlin Museums, Moscow – «Russian Tsar’s and Emperor’s Orders and Decorations at the Armory Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin».
Lidia Dobrovolskaya, Curator of the Numismatica collections of the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg – «Orders, Badges and Medals of Estonian History in the Hermitage Collections».
Guy Deploige, curator of the RMEHM Phaleristic collections and Vice-President of Studiekring Faleristiek vzw (SKF) – «The Freedom Cross of Estonia: The War Heritage Institute Collection at the Royal Army Museum and Military History, Brussels».
Lars Stevnsborg, reputed author on the Danish Phaleristics and member of the “Orders and Medals Society of Denmark (OMSD)” – «Fifty Danish Danes with the Estonian Freedom Cross».
Antii Ruokonen, author of several books and articles on European orders – «Liechtenstein Medals and Medals».
Pavol Marciš, President of the ‘Slovakia Faleristic Society (SFS)’ and curator of the Tallinn Museum – «The valuable new acquisitions of the Museum of the Orders of Cavalry of Tallinn».
Stephen Patterson made an interesting account of King Edward VII’s State Visit to Russia. The Visit took place in the harbor of Reva, as it was then called Tallinn, part of the Russian Empire. Based on the British Royal Archives and others in Moscow, Patterson gives a detailed report on the Visit and its historical background within the Anglo-Russian Entente signed in the previous year, and discusses the honours exchanged on this occasion.
Remembered as a great family gathering as the A. reminds, the Visit was also an event with an important foreign policy agenda and not without an uproar in the British Parliament against it. The exchange of decorations was meticulously discussed in London and St. Petersburg during the planning of the Visit. Following high officials advice the British awards were to be in the Royal Victorian Order which was in the King’s gift and needed no government advice. On the Russian side were made four appointments of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, three of the Order of St. Stanislaus, one of the Order of the White Eagle and five of the Order of St Anne. Other decorations awarded to lower ranks are not yet known according to the A.
The King further awarded four GCVO – to the Tsar’s brother-in-law Prince Peter of Oldenburg, to the prime minister, to the Minister of the Imperial Court and to the Minister of the Marine and Governor General of the Baltic provinces. Other appointments of KCVOs, CVOs and MVOs, as well as Royal Victorian Medals, were made. The A. further explains the Emperor was not decorated since he was already a Knight of the Garter and had already been appointed to the Royal Victorian Order Chain. Instead, the King appointed the Emperor to the rank of admiral of the fleet.
Liudimila Gavrilova, who attended this type of event for the first time, took the opportunity to reveal the activities and scope of the Armory Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin within the field of Phaleristics namely the project underway of the creation of an Orders Hall housing Imperial Russian and foreign orders and decorations. She also made a survey on the origins and development of the collection of Russian Orders at the Armory Chamber formed after 1917 including Imperial Orders, Soviet Orders and contemporary Russian Orders.
A brief account of the origins of the collection of foreign orders which belonged to the Emperors and Imperial Royal Family is also given stressing the vicissitudes which underwent these items in the Soviet era. Stressing the research made on this collection the A. refers the two exhibitions which took place in 2010 and 2012 and the «discoveries« made while preparing those events, as well as the book she coauthored with Sergey Levin from the Russian Historical Museum, published in 2008 – European Orders in Russia. Research in several Russian and foreign Archives also led establish the provenance of several insignia of the Order of Malta in the collections of the Moscow Kremlin Museums as having belonged to former Grand Masters of the Order of the XV and XVI centuries and which led to the exhibition “Treasures of the Order of Malta. Nine centuries in the Service of Faith and Charity”. The catalogue presents about 200 artworks from various European museums, archives and private collections, including those of Russia, Malta, Italy and France. The precious items, crafted by the best jewellers and artists, as well as ancient badges and historical records of the Order and other artifacts help to trace the peculiarities of the activities of the Order of Malta – one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilization.
An account of another important exhibition – European Orders of Knighthood – which took place in 2015 in cooperation with the H.M. the Queen’s Royal Collection, presenting insignia from the private collection of Andrei Khazin and insignia of the Order of the Garter from the Royal Collection bestowed upon Emperor Alexander II. An important discovery was made while preparing this exhibition: the Chain of the Victorian Order which was awarded to Emperor Nicholas II. This insignia was then returned to Queen Elizabeth II who graciously returned it to the Moscow Kremlin Museums.
The A. also accounts for the provenance of a badge of the Order of the White Eagle in the collection of the Tallinn Museum based on research, indicating that the insignia rather belonged to Tsar Peter, the Great and not to Empress Catherine, the Great as believed before.
It is an invaluable account of the important phaleristic collections of the Moscow Kremlin Museums, the research that is undergoing on the foreign decorations of the Russian Emperors and the exhibitions that have taken place since 2010. The Russian literature on phaleristics including Museum exhibition Catalogues are normally only published in Russian, not accessible to the vast majority of phaleristic amateurs, making this address important to diffuse knowledge on this matter.
We, in Western Europe, have long ago understood the importance of exchanging information in the spreading of knowledge thus the European Meetings of Phaleristic Societies. Let’s us hope that the Tallinn event with a «massive» participation of Eastern European Museum curators will open the path for future collaboration.
Lidia Dobrovolskaya in her address starts to offer an overview of the origins of the phaleristic collections, both of Russian and foreign orders and medals, of the Hermitage Museum. She then discusses the main items connected with Estonia, grouped namely, as follows: Office Badges of the Eastland Province; Medals, Badges and Jettons of different societies; Medals and Jettons for various Jubilee Dates in Estonian History; Badges and Medals of pre-war Estonia. Needless to say that «medals» in the second and third groups are not portable and so do not strictly fall within the study of Phaleristics.
Within the fourth group the A. discusses the origin of the collection and deals namely, with the Cross of Liberty founded in 1919, the Order of the Cross of the Eagle created in 1928, the Order of the White Star, founded in 1936, the Order of the Estonian Red Cross, created in 1920, and several other medals and badges.
The well-known Belgian phalerist Guy Deploige, in turn, delivered an interesting address on the insignia of Cross of Liberty which are in public Belgian collections, starting with a short overview on the history of the Order with a description of the insignia of the various classes and its different types, with illustrations. The address was illustrated with a Table of Attributions by Country (one award to a Portuguese!) and a nominal list of awards to Belgian subjects.
The Danish author Lars Stevnsborg also talked about the Estonian Cross of Liberty and its awards to Danish recipients.
Antii Ruokonen, author of a book on the subject, delivered an address on the orders, decorations and medals of the Principality of Liechtenstein, starting with the Long Service Military Medal created in 1847; the Jubilee Commemorative Medal created by Prince Johann II on November 1908 on the 50th Anniversary of his reign; the Princely Order of Merit of Liechtenstein with a brief description of the order’s insignia; the Princely Medal of Merit of Liechtenstein, created in 1937; and the Commemorative Medals of the 50th and 70th Anniversaries of Prince Franz Josef II.
The book ends with the address by Pavol Marciš with a brief description of the Tallinn Museum and its collections, including the items which are not exhibited being stored in a deposit, and the announcement of the forthcoming laboratory in order to enable the study of the insignia with non-invasive technologies. He then surveyed recent acquisitions by the Museum, namely the collection of orders and documents which belonged to Count Moritz von f Dietrichstein (1775-1864) which allowed the display of the insignia the Orders of Dannebrog, the Red Eagle, the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George (Duchy of Parma) and the Saint Maurice and St. Lazarus. Other items which belonged to Field Marshall Francis Wallace Grenfell, a British Army Officer were discussed but without referring where they were obtained – although we know that they were sold at Spink’s Auction, London, on November 24, 2011.
A lesson that can be taken from the 2017 Tallinn Phaleristic Meeting is that the interchange of information between amateurs of phaleristics, whether collectors, researchers or people from other sources, namely Museum Curators or academics, is essential for the spread of knowledge in the field. And that the use of translations in a language understood by many – like English – is paramount if one wants to widen its audience beyond national boundaries.
Thanks are due to Catherine Lapinsh for kindly having offered this book.»