Badge of the North American Russian Orthodox Brotherhood in
Petrograd, 2nd class, 1915-1917.
Silver gilt, solid gold (inner and outer bands of the center
medallion), enamels. Measures 68.1 mm in
height, 67.8 mm in width; weighs 41.5 g. Massive and complex
award of multi-piece construction. The center medallion has
image of St. Vladimir, the prince of Kiev who in 988 AD
accepted Orthodox Christianity as a state religion for the
Kievan Rus. The portrait is transfer-printed on what looks
like celluloid insert (a novelty at the time when the award
was made.) The blue cross in the center bears the acronym in
Old Slavonic characters which stand for "North American
Orthodox Brotherhood of Saint Prince Vladimir."
The inner and outer bands of the center medallion are
separate parts made in solid gold. The Imperial crown with
ribbons is also a separate piece and although of different
shade than the bands, appears to be made of low-carat gold
rather than silver gilt (we wouldn't want to damage it by
testing for gold content.) The entire cross was once gold
plated on both sides; some of the original gilt finish is
clearly visible in the recesses of the cross on the obverse,
edges of the ball embellishments on the center medallion,
and the reverse under the pin and near the center.
The reverse of the center medallion bears very clearly
struck maker mark АБ ("AB"), Kokoshnik 84 silver hallmark
with the Greek character alpha designating St. Petersburg
assay inspection, and a small assay inspection hallmark with
Kokoshnik. There are matching maker mark and round
Kokoshnik hallmark to the outside of the pin.
The badge is in very fine to excellent overall condition.
There is some rubbing and fading to the portrait, but the
details are overall well-preserved. The blue center cross
has surface chips to the left arm and tiny flakes elsewhere,
but because the damage doesn't penetrate to silver, it is
not easily noticeable. The golden bands, details of the
crown, and ridges of the larger cross are beautifully crisp
showing almost no wear and only very few tiny dings. The
reverse is nearly pristine, with attachment wires perfectly
tight and attractive light toning to silver. The pin is
intact and fully functional.
Approved on 15 January 1915, this was one of the last badges
authorized by the Tsar before the revolution. (Any Russian
badge or jetton showing the eagle, the crown, and/or the
monogram of a member of the royal family required Nicholas's
personal approval before it could be produced.) Since it
could not have been safely worn - at least with the crown -
after the February 1917 revolution, it had one of the
shortest "life-spans" of any imperial era badge: just two
years. The second class of this decoration was issued
exclusively to the life members of the Brotherhood.
/Patrikeev and Boinovich, "Badges of Russia, Vol. 1", page
356 fig. 15.9/