There were two categories of maids of honor: maids of honor 'of the suite' and maids of honor 'of the city'. The former, who were required to live at the palace, constituted a much smaller group (from one to five during this period), and the latter a much larger group (approximately 250 in 1916) (U. Tillander-Godenhielm, The Russian Imperial Award System 1894-1917, Helsinki, 2005, pp. 35-37).
Maid of honor cyphers consisted of the reigning Empress's initials surmounted by the Imperial crown. When a new empress ascended to the throne, or upon the death of a dowager empress, the design was changed. The present badge is in the form of the Cyrillic initial 'A', which stands for Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (1798-1860), dating the badge to the reign of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855). Based on the research of Valentin Skurlov and Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, it is possible to conclude that the present cypher was one of only fourteen presented between 1828 and 1855. Another cypher from the same period was sold Christie's, London, November 26, 2012, lot 315.
For a further discussion of the subject of maids of honor and ladies of the Russian Imperial court, see U. Tillander-Godenhielm, op. cit., pp. 31-45. Also see S. B. Patrikeev, A. D. Boinovich, The Badges of Russia, Vol. III, Moscow-St Petersburg, 2005, p. 140.
We are grateful to Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm for her assistance with the present lot.
We are thankful to Valentin Skurlov for researching the present lot.