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II RP, Commander's Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari - UNIKAT

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Lot description Show orginal version

First time in the trade Commandery of the Order of Virtuti Militari of the Second Republic from the I. executive series and currently the only known piece in this version.

Silver, enamel, gilt. Dimensions 54.5 x 54.5 mm, weight 47.86 g.
Krupski and Matulewicz, Warsaw (ca. 1923 - ca. 1939),
Very good state of preservation, patina, arms of the cross with gilding preserved vestigially.

Piece without maker's signature and serial number, made from matrices specific to state-ordered crosses made by Krupski and Matulewicz company in Warsaw. This clearly identifies the manufacturer, which was the only one to make two series of Commander's Crosses for the Ministry of Military Affairs in 1921-1923.

The metal, construction of the cross and its careful workmanship are appropriate for the first of these series. The lack of a number indicates that the offered piece was created outside of the state contract. It was possible only for the manufacturer's own needs, or only on the order of any of the decorated or an entity authorized by the relevant authorities (only such an order from outside could be accepted).

The order was made to a very high standard, corresponding to the I. series and in no way inferior to the standards of the most reputable European companies of the time. Its order in the era must have been very expensive. It was an expensive piece, which, combined with legal restrictions on production, goes a long way to explaining why the currently offered cross is the only known piece of this variety, and possibly the only one in existence at all.

Determining the original owner, or even the commissioner of production, however, does not seem possible at this time, as the manufacturer's records have most likely been lost.

It comes from a collection for which it was purchased more than 40 years ago, not from a collection, but from the primary market on the occasion of a numismatic transaction from a private individual in Warsaw's Zoliborz district.

The cross offered now (exactly this piece) was noted in the literature as early as 1983 (Grzegorz Krogulec, Remarks on the Military Order of Virtuti Militari, Warsaw 1987, p. 77 in the footnote).

In the Second Republic, the Commander's Cross (Second Class) of the Military Order of Virtuti Militari could be awarded to an army commander, or a high-ranking officer in command - for a tactical victory or a valiant and effective defense of a difficult position, or a bold and full of initiative conduct of a war operation of great importance for the course of the war.

By 1939, the order of this class was awarded to 12 Polish generals, including Edward Rydz-Smigly, Stanislaw Haller, Tadeusz Rozwadowski, Wladyslaw Sikorski and Marshal Jozef Pilsudski.

All of the crosses of the three highest classes of the order were made by the Warsaw firm of Krupski and Matulewicz on the order of the Ministry of Military Affairs. The pieces were numbered separately in each class. The first order for Class II orders was for 15 crosses made in silver. All of them were awarded to: 12 to Poles and 3 to foreigners.

In 1923, the Ministry of Military Affairs ordered another batch of 30 Commander's Crosses from the same company. They retained the continuity of numbering, despite the change of material to tombac and much less careful workmanship. Of these, only 4 were bestowed - all to foreigners. Pieces from this ungranted pool have appeared sporadically on the collectors' market, but so far no piece from the first series has been offered for sale to the public.


Auction 23 at the Royal Castle in Warsaw
03 June 2024 CEST/Warsaw
Start price
11 765 EUR
Hammer price
25 976 EUR
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Auction 23 at the Royal Castle in Warsaw
03 June 2024 CEST/Warsaw
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