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Claspless Spring Loaded Bakelite (?) Cases for Rising Suns and Sacred Treasures

Article about: Greetings, I have seen Orders of the Rising Sun 8th Class in addition to single sided and double sided enameled 7th Classes, as well as Orders of the Sacred Treasure 7th Class, come in clasp

  1. #1
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    Default Claspless Spring Loaded Bakelite (?) Cases for Rising Suns and Sacred Treasures

    Greetings,

    I have seen Orders of the Rising Sun 8th Class in addition to single sided and double sided enameled 7th Classes, as well as Orders of the Sacred Treasure 7th Class, come in claspless, spring loaded cases which I believe are made of Bakelite. All such examples have the “Showa” stylization of (kun) and gold kanji. I assume that Sacred Treasure 8th Classes are also to be found in such cases.

    I have done some digging on GMIC and the consensus appears to be that these types of cases are definitely post war. After refreshing myself of Nick Komiya’s (RIP) wonderful thread “Story of the Golden Kite” on this site, I learned that the last Kosho (prize-given/awards) for Japan’s war dead continued until sometime in 1947 and then there was a 17 year halt. The Kosho was picked up again sometime in 1964. I assume that these claspless, spring loaded Bakelite cases came about in or just after 1964. I also assume the same for the single sided enameled Rising Sun 7th Classes. A 17 year hiatus would be a perfect time during which to redesign cases and at least one of the decorations. I can easily imagine that both changes would be implemented as cost saving measures.

    So, I have a couple of questions that hopefully someone can answer:

    First, were claspless, spring loaded Bakelite cases used on classes above the 7th Class?

    Second, for approximately how long were such cases used before being discontinued? This question of course assumes that they have been discontinued.

    See below for some pictures.

    Thank you, everyone, for your assistance.

    All the best,

    Tracy

    Lids:
    Claspless Spring Loaded Bakelite (?) Cases for Rising Suns and Sacred Treasures

    Front seam, claspless:
    Claspless Spring Loaded Bakelite (?) Cases for Rising Suns and Sacred Treasures

    Rear hinge on one of the cases. As one can imagine this looks somewhat different than the rear hinge on a non-spring loaded case with a clasp.
    Claspless Spring Loaded Bakelite (?) Cases for Rising Suns and Sacred Treasures

  2. #2

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    I can’t say when the plastic spring loaded cases were introduced, but can say that they were definetely discontinued at latest by May 20, 2003 when the entire Japanese honor award system was revamped with the 8th and 7th classes of all orders being discontinued.
    At the same time, they also abolished the numerical grading system (i.e., 1st class, 2nd class, etc.) and replaced them with the titles that previously accompanied Order of the Rising Sun, i.e., 1st Class is Grand Cordon, (大綬章, Daijushou), 2nd Class the Gold and Silver Star (重光章, Jukoushou, literally meaning superimposed rays), the 3rd Class the Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon (中綬章, Chuujushou, literally meaning medium ribbon), 4th Class, Gold Rays with Rosette (小受章, Shoujushou, literally meaning small ribbon) , 5th Class, the Gold and Silver Rays (双光章, Soukoushou, literally meaning dual rays), and the 6th class, the Silver Rays (単光章, Tankoushou, literally, single rays) so as not to imply that one award is not inferior to another in merit, and also made women eligible for the Order of the Rising Sun which was hitherto restricted to men with women receiving the Order of the Sacred Crown.
    There used to be severe criticism against the previous honor award system because the grade of the award was determined based on the recipient's position in the social hierarchy and not his/her accomplishments or sacrifices. Thus, enlisted men and Red Cross nurses who made the ultimate sacrifice would be only be awarded the lowest grades of the Rising Sun and Sacred Crown orders respectively, whereas a politician whose sole distinction was to have managed to stay in office long enough could be awarded a 2nd class or even the 1st class of the Rising Sun. Ironically, on December 7, 1964, Curtis LeMay, the wartime commander of the 20th Airforce responsible for bombing the Japanese mainland from the Marianas was awarded the 1st Class of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese Government as a symbol of its gratitude, not for torching Japan, but for aiding in the establishment of the Air Self Defense Forces.

    I have never seen a 6th Class award of any Order in the plastic case and the post 2003 equivalents of the former 6th class do come in the box with the clasp closing. (I have never handled an actual example of a post 2003 award so cannnot say with certainty whether they are in lacquered wood or not.)

  3. #3
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    Default

    Hello Akira,

    Thank you for the detailed and informative response above. It is much appreciated.

    I knew that LeMay was awarded the Rising Sun 1st Class, which I too found ironic and a bit unbelievable, but I never knew the basis for that award. Thanks for filling that gap in my knowledge.

    I am lucky to have five post-2003 Reform awards (a Rising Sun Gold and Silver Rays as well post-2003 Reform Sacred Treasures equivalent to the pre-reform 6th through 3rd Classes) and as you state, the cases have a clasp. I can unequivocally state that the cases are lacquered wood. They feel like wood, under a 25x magnifying glass certain interior surfaces have a wood look, and when you let them fall shut they sound like wood (not that I executed that test too often for fear of damaging the case ). The irrefutable piece of evidence, however, is the fact that one of my cases is damaged and the underlying wood is clearly exposed.

    Your reply above prompted me to examine a part of the case that I have never examined before: the inside top lid lip directly behind the attached clasp. I examined three of my post-2003 Reform cases and on the rear of the clasp are two sharp prongs that are pushed through the top lid lip and then bent back in order to securely hold the clasp in place. As you can imagine, this process causes a certain amount of the material to be pushed out, exposed, and a bit broken. That material is clearly wood.

    Thank you again for your reply.

    All the best,

    Tracy

  4. #4

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    Adding a link to Tracy's expanded description of the award:
    Post-2003 Reform Orders of the Sacred Treasure

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