The Order of Saint Catherine was founded on November 24th 1714 by Peter I on the occasion of his marriage to his wife, Catherine I. Until 1916 when the Order of St. Olga briefly came into existence, the Order of St. Catherine was the only decoration specifically intended for women. Russian Grand Duchesses were immediately presented with the Order at their christening, or upon their marriage into the Romanov family. Imperial Princesses were granted with the Order at the age of eighteen. In addition to the Russian Imperial Family, a fixed number of other recipients were awarded Grand and Lesser Crosses. Twelve Grand Crosses were typically given to female members of foreign Ruling Houses. Queen Alexandra of England was made a Dame of the Order of St. Catherine and presented with a Grand Cross by Tsar Alexander II. Ninety-four Lesser crosses were conferred upon ladies of the highest nobility, who were part of the suite of the Empress and had engaged in important philanthropic or charitable works outside of their duties at Court. It is an indication of the esteem Grand Duchess Marie held for Augusta, Lady Monson, that she was presented this extremely prestigious award.
The original named Warrant of Appointment for the Order, signed Marie, is included in the lot and is housed in a blue slipcase. Also included are three related letters: (i) from Lady Monson to her brother, Arthur Ellis, seeking his assistance in obtaining formal "Permission to Wear" via the Central Chancery in London and describing herself as 'only the fifth non-Russian recipient' of the award; (ii) from Ellis to his friend Davidson, dated 6 October 1902, regarding Lady Monson's request; and (iii) a typed forwarding letter to Lady Monson, dated 24 October 1902.
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