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Why are Russian military medals and awards are so desirable for collectors all over the world? Probably the main reason is a line of dramatic changes that Russia experienced after being transformed from Empire into a political USSR’s center.
Among necessary reforms determined after 1917, there was a task — to change the military awards’ system to an absolutely new one. Strong hate and disgrace to the former Emperor pushed new leaders to cancel previous traditions when there were no proper new equivalents, that’s why system’s changing turned into a long process during which Russian military medals and awards got different faces, meaning and value.
Russian awards before USSR
Medals and awards that were given to soldiers and their leaders in Russian Empire had very various design. The reason is that during the time of Empire — Russia didn’t has any clear pattern for a medal or award. Very often medal were made on a personal order. It could have a unique design, unusual size, various decorations. At the same time having no official patterns masters could make medals with many differences in patterns, size, shape, materials. The result is a great variety of military awards and medals — from the simplest ones to the most impressive.
Soviet award had to be something new and unseen before. And that was quite difficult taking into consideration number of designs made by previous system. This condition makes Russian military medals and military awards such an interesting subject for collectors and historicans.
First Awards in USSR
Great pressure on country’s economy lead to a period characterized by financial difficulties. There were many cases when soldiers were awarded with clothes, necessary things or with a written certificates. New patriotic movement of Soviet Union demanded creating of an inspiring awards that would reflect social ideals and values. The result is more than 50 medals and awards that were designed during 1917 – 1991.
First from all Soviet awards appeared in 1918. The order of the Red Banner became the highest and actually the only award for more than 10 years till Order of Lenin appeared. An interesting fact is that Lenin’s order were made from different materials: silver (1930 – 1934), gold (1934 – 1936), platinum (1936 – 1991).Among first awards there is also an Order of a Red Star that was created in April 1930 and was given to soldiers of Red Army for exceptional military service.
During next years more than 50 awards were created, most of them had variants in size, shape, color and original material. The rarest and most expensive example of Soviet awards is Order of Victory created on 8th November 1943, only around 20 people had a honor to be awarded with it. The order was made from platinum, rubies and diamonds.
Late awards in USSR
Among late awards there are: Order for Serving to the Homeland, medal “For Distinction in Military Service”, medal “For Strengthening of Brotherhood in Arms”, all created between 1974 – 1979. Among a wide range of awards created in the USSR there several interesting examples that were created by certain republics-members. Soviet Asia was very active in creating its own soviet medals, rewards and orders.
Most of the awards created during 1917-1991 are no longer awarded, but some of them have transformed with minimal changes into a similar awards given by Russian Federation nowadays. Unique design, great number of Soviet symbols and stories that stand behind their creation turned it into a priceless memory of USSR’s history, a special monument to heroic past of a country and its citizenships . Most of Soviet military awards are saved in state Russian funds and museums, some now belong to private collection and their price and value is growing year after year.