Last year was a great year for collectibles in general, with steeply rising prices across great ranges of types of antiques, memorabilia, stamps, coins and jewellery.
However, some trends stood out particularly strongly and in the strong Russian markets medals from that country certainly made their mark with startling sales at Baldwin's and Morton & Eden in particular.
Baldwin's is holding a sale this very week presenting medals from the collection of Walter Mooromsky which no collector with an interest in medals or Russian history will want to miss. But there is another sale this week including a couple of extraordinary pieces.
Stack's International sale in New York is dominated by hundreds of coins from all round the world. But there are three versions of the Order of St George the Martyr, instituted in November 26, 1769. They carry wildly different price tags.
Firstly, there is an extremely fine fourth class Order of St George the Martyr (for a non-Christian recipient). Composed of silver with a large fixed loop, the cross pattée design with incuse lines outlining the edges and the horizontal arms bears serial numbers and class designation on the obverse, with the crowned imperial eagle holding sceptre and orb.
An imperial eagle also appears on the reverse. The order has no ribbon and is expected to sell for $10,000-12,000.
An Order of St George the Martyr Second Class Badge consists of a gold, white enamel cross pattée with a tiny piece of artwork in the centre.
The gold-edged ruby enamel centre cabochon-like disc similar to that of the First Degree medal presents the warrior Saint on a white horse, spearing the green-scaled dragon. The reverse centre is a white enamel disc with saint's black Cyrillic monogram CГ.
This beautifully preserved cross is essentially as made, nearly pristine and a major rarity, as this Class was awarded only 125 times and was awarded to Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich. It is listed at $40,000-60,000.
However, the top lot of the sale is likely to be a First Class Badge for the Order of St George which is very similar in appearance to the second class version, and in similarly pristine condition.
It has been identified as belonging to the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich Romanov and crucially is the only First Class example available to collectors. The piece is listed is $150,000-200,000.
Stack's sale takes place in New York on January 10 with online bidding closing on January 7. Investors should bear in mind that Russian medals have often far exceeded their estimates in recent times, so they should fix their own limits in bidding for these pieces.
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