"Cross" Shoulder Strap (kontr-pogon) with Cypher of
Emperor Nicholas I and Imperial Crown, from a uniform of
civilian college or boarding school student, late XIX C -
The shoulder strap is in black velvet with light blue piping
in wool, cardboard filler and black wool backing; measures 6
cm x 9.5 cm (approx. 2 ½' x 3 ¾'). The Nicholas I cypher
is stamped in bronze with gilt finish, measures approx. 55
mm in height, 45 mm in width; no less than 4 mm thick. A
massive piece featuring vaulted 3-d construction and
beautifully executed details. Attached to the shoulder
strap by a two sets of prongs. The imperial crown is
likewise in gilded bronze, a perfect match to the Nicholas'
monogram in quality and age, both being clearly original to
the shoulder strap.
The bronze cypher and crown are in outstanding, excellent
condition. The details are perfect and crisp; the bronze
shows attractive patina and just a touch of verdigris
visible on the sides, no significant oxidation or blemishes.
Some of the original gilt finish is visible in recessed
areas of both the crown and cypher. The attachment prongs
are completely intact (we are not sure however how pliable
they are after 100+ years, so we would warn against trying
to unbend them to take the emblem off the strap). The felt
front of the shoulder strap is nicely preserved and clean
while the piping is mostly missing remaining relatively
intact only on the right side. The black cloth on the back
has deteriorated significantly along the edges but is still
mostly intact and sound in the center.
This type of shoulder straps was originally designed for a
military tunic as a provision to support epaulettes. Because
of their position across the shoulder they are referred in
Russia as kontr-pogony (literally "counter-shoulder
boards".) In late XIX C., a version of these was adopted for
uniforms of students of various Russian colleges and
boarding schools, e.g. St. Petersburg Technological
Institute and Institute of Civil Engineers. The "across the
shoulder" position called for a highly vaulted construction
of the cypher to accommodate the curve of the shoulder thus
making this insignia both distinctive and impressive. With
their 3-d profile, the cypher and crown will stand out
nicely and add interest to an otherwise "flat" display of
Imperial Russian coins or medals.
Please note, penny in our photo is for size reference.