The forced opening of China after the Opium Wars and ‘unequal treaties’ engendered immense change, upheaval and the arrival of numerous diplomats, traders, missionaries, railway constructors and military adventurers from abroad. As Gavin Goh, writing in the Journal of the Orders and Medals Society of America (September-October 2014, pp 4-15) has shown, many of these individuals rendered long and loyal service to the Qing Court and this was to be duly recognised by the award of the Order of the Double Dragon.
Sir Robert Hart (1835-1911), Inspector-General of Chinese Imperial Customs (and Gustav Detring’s immediate superior) was instrumental in the establishment of the Order, first considered in the early 1870s. Designed to symbolise China’s efforts to engage the West on a basis of equality and mutual respect, the Order and its insignia took over a decade to prepare. A complicated structure of precedence evolved, comprising five classes of which the first three were each subdivided into three grades. Insignia of the first type were issued for about 20 years but began to be replaced by transitional-type breast stars (and some badges) of rather more European style in the 1890s, culminating in the introduction of a new type Order of the Double Dragon in 1902. This second type was more standardised in form than the first and Chinese citizens finally became eligible to receive the Order in 1908. It is known to have been conferred until the very last days of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.
The following six lots are known to have been awarded to either Gustav Detring or to his son-in-law Constantin von Hanneken.
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