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Soviet Uniforms, Hats And Insignia For all topics concerning uniforms, hats, insignia (such as rank, branch of service and cap devices), shoulderboards, sleeve patches and other accoutrements.

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Old 09-10-2002, 05:47 AM   #1
Tal Inbar
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I have some pictures from an ancient ebay auction - uniform of an ambassador of the CCCP.

I think it is unique, see the rank of marshal cccp on very irregular place. I wonder if any one saw something like this, and have pictures of a Soviet ambassador in such a magnificent uniform.

The rank on the lapel - is ALL soviet ambassadors has that insignia, or a retired marshal cccp who turned into an ambassador has it? Why the unusual place?

Ambassador / senior diplomat hat badge. brass, 63mm wide.

The Soviet ambassador in Tehran - the only picture I found so far:

The description is from the VERY GOOD site: under the red star (cap museum - see reference materials section).


Although poorly known in the West, the USSR maintained a uniformed Diplomatic Service from 1943 to 1954. All diplomats and attaches had their own uniforms, with appropriate ranks and insignia. Black uniforms were most commonly seen but white "summer" versions also existed.

In 1954, uniform wear was officially terminated, although special ceremonial uniforms were preserved for diplomats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This white uniform cap is undated, but is probably from the 1980's. Both band and crown are made of white cloth with yellow piping. Of note: yellow piping is, to my knowledge, only found on Diplomatic officials caps. The quality of manufacture equates to that of a general's cap: silk lining, leather sweatband, visor buttons with embossed Great Seal of the USSR and patent leather visor. Normal officer gold cords are worn and the special, last model diplomat emblem (crossed quill pens with star) is pinned to the band.
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Old 09-20-2002, 08:57 AM   #2
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I think I have a copy of a Russian article showing the rank insignia for diplomatic uniforms. I will see if I can find it.

I have had, and since sold or traded, a few of these uniforms. The quality is superb, far beyond that of any post-war general's uniform even!!

It is my understanding, from talking to Russian diplomats, that up untill 1954 uniforms were used by ALL Soviet diplomats and that in 1954 it was cancelled for the lower ranks only - I think Counsellors and up retained them. They were retained by higher ranks until much, much later, hence the 1980s uniforms often seen. However, they were issued less and less often and may have even become "private purchase" items.

There is talk in the Russian MFA of re-introducing them.

It was once common for many foreign ministries to use uniforms. The dress uniform of former Canadian Minister of External Affairs (Noble Laureate and later Prime Minister) Lester B. Pearson is in our headquarters - alas, we have no uniforms today.

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Old 09-20-2002, 05:24 PM   #3
Nota Bene
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Shawn,

I believe that after 1954 only accredited Ambassadors had uniforms. Even Special Envoys in the Ambassador rank didn't have them. I will try to find more information on this issue.

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Old 09-20-2002, 05:29 PM   #4
Tal Inbar
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Rank

I am still waiting to know about the rank: Marshal CCCP AND the palm leafs of the diplomatic service - Is this the rank of "ambassador CCCP"?
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Old 12-03-2002, 09:53 AM   #5
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I finally found the article on Soviet Diplomatic Uniforms. Alas, it is a photocopied article and is very poor, i.e unscannable, quality. However, it is from Zeughaus 1/93(2) if anyone has the original.

The article is "Pervaya Forma Sovetskikh Diplomatov 1943-1954". It does not cover the post-1954 uniforms which lack shoulder boards. However, it is pretty obvious from the article that the uniforms shown in both Bill's and Tal's posts above are all for rank of full Ambassador, the "Chrezbychainiy i Pomochniy Posol" or Extraordinary and Plenipotenatary Ambassador.

I happened to find the notes of my meeting 2 1/2 years ago with the head of the Russian MFA history department. Here are some comments about uniforms.

/note

On 21 June 2000 I happened to meet with the head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Department of History and Archives. After the meeting I asked him about MFA uniforms. He told me that they were introduced in 1943. They were issued for dress use for all diplomatic personnel including attachés (the lowest rank which includes drivers, cooks, doormen, cypher clerks, etc.).

This guy remembered his father's uniform. His father was a Minister (the highest diplomatic rank under ambassador, nothing to do with a head of a Ministry type of Minister). While the uniforms were rarer after 1954 and officially restricted to Ambassadors, Consuls-General and Ministers, they continued throughout the Soviet era officially. Apparently, some other ranks were still allowed to use their uniforms until 1970! This was likely only in areas where uniform use was expected - say North Korea.

In fact, uniforms still officially exist today for those highest ranks even though they have not issued any actual uniforms since before the end of the USSR. He said that there is currently a debate about re-issuing dress uniforms going on at the MFA. He said there is info and pictures of uniforms in a giant multi-volume Soviet Diplomatic Encyclopaedia printed in the 1960s. He also said they are planning a small museum room in the MFA HQ in Moscow.

end/

The fact that uniforms were issued after 1954 to Consuls-General and Ministers as well as Ambassadors should be no surprise. Consuls-General are by defintion the head of a mission - for example in New York or San Francisco. Ministers are the highest rank under Ambassador and frequently represent the Ambassador or act as Charge d'affairs ad interim when the Ambo is out of town.

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Old 01-12-2003, 06:40 PM   #6
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WWII Diplomat

Postwar diplomat uniforms, even of ambassador rank, are not that rare anymore. They are pretty easy to get over in Moscow at the open air parks, etc.

Here is a very rare type; WWII diplomat. I had this one in my collection a few years ago. Came with a nice vest too. Notice they still use boards for rank.
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Old 01-12-2003, 06:55 PM   #7
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Here is a real issued one i sold last year.

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Old 01-13-2003, 03:22 AM   #8
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This is an interesting line. What is a fake? There are many things floating around out there. Here is my attempt to sum it up:

1) Original issued - officially made and issued in USSR days.

2) Unissued original - items officially made in USSR days and then sold later on the collector market.

3) Parts - items consisting of originally manifactured parts but put together recently for collectors. I would add that here their are ones that are put togther "properly" - that is they attempt to model the proper thing and total fantasy ones like we saw in DDR for tourists after the fall of the wall.

4) Current manufacture in original style - these are where factories in Ukraine or Russia still produce USSR era uniform but with same style, fabric, machinery, etc. The M1969 officer uniforms being made today in Ukraine count as this.

5) Partial fakes - I am guessing here, but I think some of the "higher end" stuff from Ukraine fits in here. The base uniform is like #4, current manufacture in original style. But boards and embroidery are now done on the cheap - tinsely crap. Interestingly you don't see these as much as #3 or #4 in Moscow. Whereas Ukraine seems to have a ot of this - maybe because thats where the fakers are or because they don't have acess to the large warehouses of old stock.

6) Total fakes - everything is fake, common on things like WWII marshals, etc.

In my own personal opinion, 5 and 6 are "fakes", 4 is "repro", 2 is "undesireable" and 1 is "good". I am not sure what I would call a "parts" piece (#3).

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Old 01-13-2003, 06:01 PM   #9
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Shawn,

I never actually thought about #3 before, but I don't see any difference between ## 4, 5, and 6. For all practical purposes they are fakes if they are not specifically marked as reproductions.

I guess we can also ask another question - what is the difference between a fake and a reproduction? A reproduction would usually have some special identifying marks, like for instance "H" on the edge of official restrikes of Soviet coins, or would be made of different materials, metals, etc. Following this logic every uniform with say non-regulation buttons on pants is a repro, but what if they are sold as genuine items... :confused:.

Alexei
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Old 01-14-2003, 05:36 AM   #10
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Alexei,

I think we have been using a slight difference in the meaning of reproduction. I was using it, for #4 items, simply to mean a newly made item made to fit exactly the original - material, style, production means, etc.

When you talk of "marking it reproduction" you are obviously refering to the maker's intent. That is, someone who makes and marks and item as an reproduction.

Hmmm.

There are really several things here.

If we define "fake" as a non-official creation then you are right that, in reality, they are all fakes. Not just examples #5 and #6, but also #4 (which despite perhaps being an exact copy is still fake) and #3 (which is, in the end product, a fake even if from genuine, albeit originally separate, parts).

There are also problems with #2. In effect, an unissued item is, if it was originally made under official authority, the same as a issued item except that it was not used. For some things this would not greatly decrease the value. For example, I have a 1922 dated M22 cavalry pull-over tunic which I suspect is unissued. It is in good condition showing no signs of actual wear. However, it does have general aging to it and the wool bits show moth nips, etc. Since these tunics would have been replaced only 2 years later with the M1924 uniforms it is not surprising that there are some unissued items. Or perhaps it was used only very, very little. Or perhaps it is a very good fake.

The real danger comes with the fact that often we can't distinguish between a #2 (unissued) and a #4 (current manufacture in correct style). So is an unused M1969 KGB captain's service uniform an original and official USSR item made in the 1980s and never issued or is it a "reproduction" made in a uniform factory in the 1990s/2000s? Is it an original unissued Soviet general's service tunic with original unissued Marshal of Armour boards added by the vendor - or with 1990s manufacture at original factory boards - or with outright fake boards??

It is very hard to tell. Yes there are ways to tell that an item is post-Soviet manufacture - such as the famous blank hat labels. But it would not be much work to prnt/stamp a fake label inside a 1990s/2000s manufacture hat.

It is clear to me that all variations exist. I too know of this Ukrainian facory and some of is sellers. They advertise clearly on the net that they sell newly made Soviet uniforms. To my knowledge they do not/not date their stuff either with true or fake dates. I consider their suff as #4 - newly made with original techniques. But they also sell newly made "high end" WWII era uniforms which are not/not exact copes - they have many errors. I consider them to be # 6 - total fakes.

It also seems clear, as DougD says, that in Russia, and maybe other places - huge stocks of original but unissued Soviet uniforms are being/have been liquidated. One example are the many, many late 1960s unissued gymnastiorka currently available. I have seen modern reproduction M43 gymnastiorkas - both Russian made and UK made. But there are also many original and genuine ones that are dated (either uniform or just buttons) from the late 1960s that were not issued after the M1969 uniform changes came into effect but were kept in government storage until they were sold in the Russian era.

Anyway, to conclude a long winded post. I think when dealing with uniform "fakes" we need to be careful to take into account several issues 1) manufacture and 2) intent of sale.

Then we can carefully seperate original issued, original unissed, good repros, bad repros, repros sold fraudulently as originals, and outright fakes, ec.

Shawn
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