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The Order of the Norwegian Lion


(J. Tostrup - Oscar II, 18K gold)


The order was founded by King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway on 21st January 1904. After the Union of the two countries seized to exist in June 1905, it was no longer awarded.

The order was awarded to the following of the Swedish Royal house.

1. 21.1.1904 King Oscar II, Grandmaster of the Order, (21.1.1829-8.12.1907), Seraphim 239
2. 21.1.1904 Crownprince Gustaf, later King Gustaf V, (16.6.1858-29.10.1950), Seraphim 339
3. 21.1.1904 Prince Gustaf Adolf, later King Gustaf VI Adolf,(11.11.1882-15.9.1973), Seraphim 466
4. 21.1.1904 Prince Carl Wilhelm Ludvig, Duke of Sødermanland, (17.6.1884-5.6.1965), Seraphim 473
5. 21.1.1904 Prince Erik Gustav Ludvig Albert (20.4.1889-20.9.1918), Seraphim 497
6. 21.1.1904 Carl Wilhelm, (27.2.1861-24.10.1951), Seraphim 362
7. 21.1.1904 Eugen Napoleon Nicolaus, (1.8.1865-17.8.1947), Seraphim 386

As heir to the Throne of Sweden & Norway, they became automatic by birth Knight holder of the Order as well as the Grand Cross of St Olav. All of the first 7 recipients also were given the collar.

8. 27.1.1904 Emperor Wilhelm II, Germany, (27.1.1859-4.6.1941), Seraphim 441, Lion on his 45th birthday, Web2, Web3.
9. 05.4.1904 Emperor Franz Joseph I, Austria/Hungary, (18.8.1830-21.11.1916), Seraphim 311
10. 10.9.1904 King Christian IX, Denmark, (8.4.1818-29.6.1906), Seraphim 298
11. 1.12.1904 President Emile Loubet, The French Republic, (30.12.1838-20.12.1929), Seraphim 539

The Norwegian Order of the Lion

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The Collar to the Lion weights 16 oz (450 grams) and a length of 40 inches (101,5 cm). It once belonged to Prince Carl Wilhelm Ludvig, Duke of Sødermanland. He was born 17th of June 1884 and died sometime in the 1950's. He was married to Princess Maria Pavlovna of Russia. He was son of King Gustaf V and a younger brother to the later King gustaf VI Adolph.
It is assumed that sometime after his death his Decorations were divided among the family members. He had also been decorated with lots of other European Orders from countires like German States, Russia and Scandinavia.
His two collars, the Lion and the St Olav without badges and stars turns up in a coin dealers shop in South Sweden. From there it later ended up in the collection of Professor Boalt from Gothenborg.
After Boalt's death the Lion Collar was sold at the auction of Count Klenau in 1974 in Munich. It was bought by Ernst Blass of Hamburg for his large collection.
Later on November 12, 1988 his entire collection was sold in auction by Mars & Merkur (Count Klenau) and Hermann Historica of Munich. At this sale the Collar ended up in the US where it was until it was purchased to Norway in 2003.

Others of Prince Wilhelm's decorations surfaced in 1980 in Stockholm and were bought by the coindealer Leif Jansson. He got the Lion Badge and Star without the original Sash. It was later sold to a collector in Norway.

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The Badge and the Star with full length sash was the one given to the King of Denmark. According to the rumors they were stolen by a servant to the court in late 1960 and sold to the famous collector Kai Mayer in Holte, Denmark.
The Badge is 42x85 mm and weights 2 oz. The Star is 90 mm and weights 3 oz. Both are made in 18 karat gold and are hallmarked by J. Tostrup of Kristiania. There are minor chips to the star.

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A few photos exist showing the Lion worn by it's recipients. The one to the left is of Oscar II wearing the Lion Star and the also the Badge with Sash. The next photo shows him wearing the Lion Star and Badge in Lion Collar. He also carries the St Olav and Sword Grand Crosses around his neck, a Seraphim Star and a Dannebrog Knight. In addition the Karl XIII Star is seen at the bottom, and there is another medal hanging next to the Dannebrog.

Where are the 11 sets of the Norwegian Lion today??

Official Sweden: The Royal Castle and/or Treasury Department in Stockholm, Sweden: 5 complete sets with Collar with Star, Badge and Sash. One set on public display at the Royal Castle.
Official Norway: The Royal Coin Cabinet, Oslo: 1 complete set with Collar, Star, Badge and Sash. A gift from the Royal House of Sweden to Norway.
Official Denmark: Amalienborg Castle, Copenhagen: 1 Collar (Badge and Star missing).
Private Collector(1) in Norway: 1 Badge and Star with new Sash, Oslo Reportedly awarded to Prince Wilhelm of Sweden.
Private Collector(2) in Norway: 1 complete set with Collar, Star, Badge and Sash. (The Badge and Star was awarded to King Christian IX of Denmark. The Collar awarded to Prince Wilhelm of Sweden.
German collection: The Order awarded to Wilhelm II
French collection: The Order awarded to Émile Loubet
Austrian collection: The Order awarded to Franz Joseph I

What is the status of the Norwegian Lion today??

After King Haakon VII became King in Norway no Lion has been awarded. It is said in several books that he decided not to use the Norwegian Lion as an Order. If this was true the Order would most likely been taken away. However the statues of the Order says that only 12 Knights were to be awarded at the same time. So one did not have much to play with as 11 already were awarded. In 1905 King Haakon was automatically the Grand Master of the Norwegian Lion. I.e. he was number 12 of the available Lions. The Order of the Norwegian Lion has been listed in the Norwegioan Statskalenderen (The official State publication) for many years after 1905. I do not know for how long, but it was listed in my one from 1911.
King Haakon VII is actually seen wearing the Lion Star, Badge and Sash on the postcards shown below. He has the Lion Star and one sees the Lion Sash. The Badge is not visible. The Sta Olav Grand cross Badge is carried around his neck and the Star on his breast.
It is stated in the Swedish Statskalenderen in 1904 and 1905 that King Oscar was the Grand Master. By 1906 the Statskalenderen was up to date again and King Oscar is now mentioned as being the Grand Master of the Swedish only and the Norwegian Lion was now moved to his Foreign Orders section. Mind you the last living person to have the Norwegian Lion was King Gustaf VI Adolf who died in 1973.
It could then also be assumed that the Kings Haakon, Olav and now Harald has been and still are the Grand Masters of this Order. However, it is not likely that it would every be used for awards again. But as it is still an active Royal Order it is probably the rarest order today.


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