The Order of the Red Banner. Subtitled "The
History of Institution of the Award and the Evolution of Its
Badge". Valeriy Durov, Nikolay Strekalov, C. 2006, Moscow.
"Collector's Books" series. Hard covered, 223 pp, Russian
text, hundreds of color photographs.
This is one of the landmark reference books that appear
infrequently and change an area of collecting forever. "The
Order of the Red Banner" is an extraordinary book in many
respects. First of all, importance of the subject can hardly
be overestimated. Order of the Red Banner was the first of
Soviet decorations and therefore had the longest history of
all. Until the end of the Soviet Union it remained one of
its highest military awards, at least technically. Some of
its variations are virtually unobtainable to even the most
advanced collectors. At the same time, the more common
versions of the Red Banner are well known even to the
beginners and are usually within easy reach.
A unique feature of the book is the photographs. Photos in
many reference books on medals and badges are of lamentable
quality, and only a few have satisfactory close-ups. This
publication sets an entirely new standard, with large number
of magnified photos in exceptional detail. Special
attention is given to mint marks, maker stamps, die
characteristics and idiosyncrasies. In this respect this
work surpasses even the excellent first publication of the
"Collector's Books" series, "Order of Lenin. Order of
Stalin". Its photographic quality can be compared perhaps
only with The General Assault Badge by Frank
Yet another great aspect is systematic approach which makes
this work so easy to use and reliable. The authors
organized it chronologically, starting with the first,
rejected version of the RSFSR Red Banner by the Bovzey
Workshop. Serial number ranges for each variation are
accompanied by reference photos. The narrative explains even
minute differences between the variations. In addendum,
there are tables with precise production numbers by the mint
location, dates of manufacture and detailed data on mint
remakes and duplicates.
Lastly, this book is truly a complete history of the award.
It covers design stages, production and technical standards
of the badges. At the same time it explains award
requirements and how they evolved over the years. The text
is dotted with examples of award citations and recipients,
making this an interesting and captivating reading.
Depth and quality of this publication are unprecedented.
This book is a required reading for the serious
collector of Soviet awards and is unlikely to be surpassed .