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
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
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.