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Badge of the Order of St Vladimir, 4th Class: CM.1500-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


State: Russia




The Order of St Vladimir was founded by Catherine II (the Great), Empress of Russia, in 1782, in four classes depending on the rank of the recipient. It was intended to be awarded for the saving of ten lives from fire or water. This was later interpreted more broadly as an award that could be given for acts of military defence.
During the collapse of Tsarist Russia in the Revolution of 1917, a Provisional Government was briefly formed to represent the interests of government against the Bolshevik factions of the new order, and then various regional governments were formed in their wake, but what came to be classed as White Russian (as opposed to Red) resistance was eventually (by the end of 1918) crystallised around the Siberian Regional Government led by the Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak.
Despite the death of not only Tsar Nicholas II in 1917 but Grand Duke Michael his notional successor in 1918, effectively ending the Romanov royal line in whose name they were given, Kolchak's government maintained the issue of royal decorations and orders until the final collapse of the White Russian resistance in 1921, by which time Kolchak, perhaps their most capable military leader, had been made to resign.
This Badge is not named, but its provenance as part of a larger group tells us that it was awarded to 2nd Lieutenant John Mitchell, of the Royal Air Force contingent that served in South Russia in support of British forces embroiled in the unsuccessful defence of White Russia, with whose other medals Lester Watson acquired it. The medal may have been awarded for the same exploit which won Mitchell his Distinguished Flying Cross (and nearly a Victoria Cross), although Mitchell only (!) saved three lives on that occasion. His more aggressive endeavours in this campaign also won him decorations from Britain and White Russia alike.
Although the catalogue of the Watson Collection considers Mitchell's awards as its Group 7, the medals of that group are not physically attached and so have been treated separately here. Nonetheless it was as a group that Lester Watson purchased them, from the London dealers Baldwin in 1928.


History note: Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, bt Baldwin 1928

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 35.1 mm
Weight: 12.03 g

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2009) by Watson, Lester


Production date: AD 1919

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Black enamelled central disc bearing a crowned red and ermine mantle with the monogram of St. Vladimir, on red enamelled cross pattée with black enamelled borders, crossed swords between arms

  • Text: [SV]
  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Black enamelled central disc containing inscription, on red enamelled cross pattée with black enamelled borders, crossed swords between arms

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1500-2009
Primary reference Number: 141597
Watson Catalogue: 356
Ordering: M-0386
Previous object number: LW.0365f
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Saturday 22 January 2022 Last processed: Sunday 23 January 2022

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Badge of the Order of St Vladimir, 4th Class" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-02-06 20:30:01

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{{cite web|url= |title=Badge of the Order of St Vladimir, 4th Class |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-02-06 20:30:01|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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