The order of the Imperial Effigy grew out of the early Qajar tradition of members of the royal family wearing an image of the previous shah on their breast or, in the case of the shah, of their father. When combined with the European generated interest in orders and decorations in the second half of the nineteenth century the formal order was created. Its first mention is at the beginning of Nasir al-Din Shah's reign when it is noted as being a superior level of the order of the Lion and Sun. It could be awarded to foreigners as well as Persians. A similar but smaller diamond inset order of European workmanship, which by extension was probably awarded to a European, also containing a photograph opf Ahmad Shah, was sold at Sotheby's, London, 16 October 1997, lot 67. Both have three rows of diamonds around the portrait, the highest level; ours also has the addition of the upper rosette below the crown.