Crosses for X and XX Years of Faithful Service
Date established: 2nd/14th August 1889
Number of classes: for officers: silver cross for X years and enamelled cross for XX years of faithful service; non-commissioned officers – bronze crosses, resembling those for officers, without enamel
Being awarded for: to army personnel only, for X or XX years of faithful, meritorious and continuous service within the Bulgarian military
Shape and dimensions: Pattée cross with circular centre, varying in size
Ribbon: yellow, black and white equally-sized bars
Cross for X years: Dotted cross arms. The central medallion bears the crowned royal cypher of the ruling monarch, depicted above a Roman number “X” (marking the number of years), and circumscribed by the words “ОТЛИЧНА СЛУЖБА” / translation: Excellent service /.
Cross for XX years: Green enamelled cross arms, bordered with a stripe, enamelled in white. The central gilt-rimmed medallion is enamelled in white (centre) and red (outer ring). The centre bears the gilded crowned cypher of the ruling monarch and on the outer ring is inscribed in gilded letters “ОТЛИЧНА СЛУЖБА” / translation: Excellent service /, the two words being separated via two six-pointed stars. The cross is suspended from a circular gilt-rimmed laurel wreath enamelled in green, with imbued gilded “XX” letters (indicating the 20-year mark) within it. The cross for NCOs replicated the officers’ one, but is made entirely of yellowish metal alloy and has no enamel.
Cross for X years: Dotted cross arms. The central medallion depicts a crowned Bulgarian lion bearing a Saxon shield upon its torso. On the King Boris III emissions of the badge the Saxon shield is omitted.
Cross for XX years: Green enamelled cross arms, bordered with a stripe enamelled in white. The cross is suspended from a circular gilt-rimmed laurel wreath enamelled in green, with imbued gilded “XX” letters (indicating the 20-year mark) within it. The central medallion for the initial emissions is enamelled in white and bears the following gilded text “2 АВГУСТЪ 1887” (2nd August 1887 – the date of Prince Ferdinand I’s arrival to Bulgaria). Later issues (King Boris III) of the distinction bear a red-enamelled central medallion, charged with a gilded Bulgarian lion, again within a dotted edge. The NCO variant replicates the Boris III’s emission for officers, but is made entirely of yellowish metal alloy
The cross for ten years of excellent service within the military forces has been founded by a royal decree as an endorsement of the decision made previously on behalf of the Order council of the Military Order “For Bravery”. This distinction was to be awarded to all army officers (including non-commissioned ones), who have served for ten consecutive years, and have proven themselves as faithful and reliable professionals.
Among the first recipients of this award were former regent Colonel Sava Mutkurov, Colonel Danail Nikolaev etc. They have been presented with the newly established cross on the very same day of its foundation – the second anniversary of the arrival of Prince Ferdinand I to Bulgaria.
The army officers were decorated with a cross made of silver, while non-commissioned officers were presented with a similar in design bronze/yellowish-coloured cross, both around 34 mm wide.
There are two major issues of the ten-year crosses – one of the Ferdinand I period, and one of the period of his son, Boris III. The two differences between the two types is (1) the royal cypher on the obverse and (2) the small Saxon shield (or the lack of it) on the lion’s chest of the reverse central medallion.
Ten years after the establishment of the distinction, a second, higher grade of the cross was instituted, to be awarded to army officers only, for twenty consecutive years of flawless service. The new cross was similar in design to the previous one, but was slightly larger (35-37mm) and was covered with green, white and red enamel with gilded lettering and decorations.
Ferdinand I’s issues of the XX-year cross bear the date 2nd August 1887 on the reverse central medallion (the date of His arrival to Bulgaria as its Prince). Those of Boris III, the reverse has been amended to the more generic rampant Bulgarian lion on dark red base.
In spring of 1933, a cross for XX years of excellent service for NCOs has also been introduced. Its appearance replicated this of the officers’ cross, but has no enamel and is made entirely of yellowish metal alloy (39mm wide).
All crosses were suspended from a yellow-black-white ribbon, symbolising the dynasty of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
The manufactures were Scheid and Z.F. Zimmermann.