miercuri, 25 aprilie 2012

The first medal offered by Prince Carol I of Romania

Enthroned on May 10, 1866 as Prince of Romania, Prince Carol I faced the unpleasant situation of Ottoman sovereignity (abolished on May 9, 1877). Besides other drawbacks of this juridical status of Romania of those times, Prince Carol I wasn't allowed to issue a national system of decorations.

However, probably at the beginning of 1867, a small lot of medals ("commemorative" type, without ring & ribbon) were ordered in gold (36 mm) and in bronze (41 mm). I suppose that these were ordered in Germany, the native land of the Prince. I have to check more this information, but since Russia was not quite friendly to the Prince, as well as the other major neighbour, Austria-Hungary, the remaining possibilities I see are France and Germany. The engraver being the well known Wilhelm Kullrich, indicates me that the medals were struck in Germany.

The medals were offered at the first anniversary of the enthronement, May 10, 1867, to the important statesmen and close collaborators of the Prince and probably to other several persons for oustanding merits.

An authorized source of information dating 1906 indicates that the medal was directly replaced by the Star of Romania Order, established on May 9, 1877. However, I have strong doubts on this information, simply based on my large experience on the Romanian orders, medals and decorations and on the fact that the medal is of highest rarity, even in bronze, rarer than the 1877 pattern of the Star of Romania Order and the Romanian Bene Merenti Medal, established in two classes in 1876. If the medal would have been awarded for 11 years, 1866-1877, it couldn't be so rare...

My medal has some lack of details and it could be a forgery of around 1900, when few rare medals of Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza (1859-1866) and early medals of Prince Carol I were unauthorized copied.
Even being an old forgery, this medal is a piece of history and I love it very much.

The image bellow is from other source and shows this rare medal in its full beauty, being a 100 % original:

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