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Tillander-Godenhielm, Ulla: The Russian Imperial Award System during the Reign of Nicholas II 1894-1917.


Helsinki, Finnish Antiquarian Society, 2005. 4to. xxii + 570 pp. Illustrated with some 160 colour and documentary photographs. With extensive notes, index and bibliography.


Publisher’s pictorial boards. Very fine indeed, practically as new.


A thorough survey including Imperial gifts of snuff boxes, cigarette cases and watches as well as orders and medals. With chapters on ”Gifts with the Sovereign’s portrait”,”Gifts with the Sovereign's Cypher”, ”Gifts with State Emblems”, ”The Makers of the Imperial Awards”, ”Insignia and Medals”, etc. A magnificient dissertation by Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, great-granddaughter of the St. Petersburg goldsmith Alexander Tillander, a leading supplier to the Imperial Russian Court of Nicholas II.


“A fine silver or gold pocket watch was a typical gift. When travelling by sea to Finland, the Russian emperors would present watches to the pilot boat captains, and when travelling by train, every station manager along the way would receive one, as would the policemen responsible for the safety of the imperial family.” Tillander-Godenhielm is herself a fourth generation member of a goldsmith family with Russian connections. Several Finnish goldsmiths were employed as suppliers by the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty, and Tillander-Godenhielm’s grandfather was one of them. While working in the family business, she became interested in Russian gold and silver objects, many of which have remained in Finland, some still in the possession of the original recipient’s family. Sometimes orders for multiples of the same gift item were placed. “Archival research has revealed account books showing requests for ten silver cigarette cases decorated with a double-headed eagle of a specific design, or twelve rings set with specific gemstones. This type of gift was destined for lower-ranking servitors. The more valuable gifts intended for higher ranking officials were all unique in design” (Arja-Leena Paavola).


(Journal of the Finnish Antiquarian Society, 113.)

The Russian Imperial Award System

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