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     Home > COMMUNIST COUNTRIES > Medals and Militaria of Communist Hungary

    Order of Merit of the Hungarian People's Republic, 3rd class, 1949-1953, in original issue presentation case.

    Order of Merit of the Hungarian People's Republic, 3rd class, 1949-1953, in original issue presentation case. One of only 285 sets ever awarded.

    Founded 24 October 1949, the first presentation of the various degrees of the Hungarian Order of Merit appears to have been on May Day of 1950 - with a substantial number of awards going to Soviets. The various degrees of this Order were presented for less than three years before being replaced by a single medal (with a slightly simpler design) that eventually would display the last (1957) version of the communist national coat of arms in the center.

    The enameled star on the ribboned "Small Decoration" (displayed on the left breast on less than full dress occasions when awards on sashes and pin-backs were not to be worn) is 42mm at its widest point and its triangular ribbon bears a 19mm metal device reproducing the design of the breast star that indicates the recipient's grade; the star has had enamel repairs on three of its arms (and at five places tiny amounts of the gold plating was scraped away on either side of the star tips when the enamel was repaired). Each of the largest of the golden rays issuing from the center exhibit some degree of scuffing. As sometimes happens with Twentieth Century Hungarian-made ribbon, it has uniformly faded due to unstable dyes. The 165mm x 127mm x 30mm presentation box is original and shows minimum wear.

    The breast star is in silver-plated brass and high quality enamels (heavy patina on both the obverse and reverse create an impression of solid silver. It measures 59.3 mm at its widest point and weighs 52.1 grams. There is a poorly struck maker mark to the underside of the pin near the hinge.

    There is a repaired crack in the tip of topmost arm as well as minor fracture on the upper side of the left ray (both shown in the photographs). The damage is not very significant given the overall massive size of the star. Overall, this is still a very attractive and impressive piece.

    The 14mm x 40mm ribbon bar was apparently made from ribbon made by a different contractor since it still shows bright color. The metal device fastened to it that indicates the grade of the award is 20 mm in diameter. The ribbon has two internal snaps for attaching to the uniform by slipping over a loop that would have been permanently fastened to the uniform coat.

    With the exception of the fact that there was no "commander" degree (i.e. with a badge worn at the neck - which communist orders always seemed to avoid), this was a fairly traditional order of merit in its original concept, which is probably why it only existed for about three years. While it was fairly quickly phased out, its insignia was not recalled and continued to be worn by recipients.

    In spite of the obvious imperfections (which have been carefully repaired), this is a very uncommon set of order insignia and it represents one of the very few times that a communist nation initiated a multi-tiered order of merit.


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