An exceptionally rare diamond-set gold and silver maid of honor double cypher badge, Hahn, workmaster Carl Blank, Saint Petersburg, 1913, with scratched inventory number 399 of the Chancellery of the Imperial Court. Formed as the Cyrillic initials MA in Old Slavonic style letters (indicating the wearer’s appointment to the service of both Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna), the silver-topped gold mount channel-set with rose-cut diamonds, surmounted by a hinged diamond-set Imperial crown (the total weight of the diamonds about 5.5 carats), contained in the original red morocco presentation box with cover stamped with the gilt Imperial double-headed eagle. Dimensions: 3 x 1 3/4” (7.5 x 4.5 cm)
Presented to Baroness Maria Langhoff (1893-1975), daughter of Baron August Langhoff (1856-1929), Minister State Secretary of the Grand Duchy of Finland, then part of the Russian Empire.
Thence by descent
The maid of honor double cypher (or freilinskii shifr) was presented to the young woman when she was appointed Maid of Honor on July 22, 1913. The jeweler Carl Blank had delivered it to the court several weeks earlier and presented an invoice for 650 rubles. The young ladies appointed to this position at the Imperial court came from some of Russia’s most powerful families and the appointment was considered both an honor for the young woman, who was carefully vetted and had to be of impeccable character, as well as her family. On the system and the awards worn by the maids of honor, see Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, The Russian Imperial Award System 1894-1917 (Helsinki, 2005), pp. 31-45. For the double cypher presented to Countess Olga Alexandrovna Nieroth in 1904, see Christie’s New York, 16 April 2012, lot 20.
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