Exceptional hand-colored vellum DS in Cyrillic, one page, 15.5 x 10.75, January 4, 1791. A stunning military appointment granting the resignation of Peter Souponet, a former Lieutenant of the Life Guards, and bestowing upon him the honorary rank of Captain. Signed at the conclusion by Catherine and two other officials. The embossed imperial seal with the empress’s title is trimmed and reaffixed to the lower left. In very good condition, with a central vertical fold, a tiny tear to top edge, scattered soiling and foxing, and the signature a shade light, though entirely legible. Accompanied by a full English translation, in part: “This is to certify that Peter Souponet, who served us as Lieutenant in our Life Guards, in the beginning at Preobrajensk in 1784, then in the Cavalry from 1790; and then in the year 1791, on the 1st of January, he requested, because of illness, to be allowed to resign from the army, which resignation, we, most graciously accord and bestow upon him the honorary rank of Captain—In witness of this, and that he may dwell wherever he pleases freely, we have signed this with our own hand and have ordered it sealed with our own imperial seal.”
Formed by Peter the Great in the late 17th century, the Preobrazhensky Regiment is considered one of the oldest elite regiments of the Imperial Russian Army and Guard. Known for their unabashed pride and strict dismissal of lesser forces, the regiment distinguished itself most prominently during several large-scale wars in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most famously known for its defense of Catherine the Great’s bloodless coup against her husband Peter III, the Preobrazhensky Regiment was deemed the highest in the military order of precedence on July 17, 1762. Given that the majority of military diplomas from this period are black and white, it seems that only officers belonging to the Preobrazhensky Regiment and other higher-ranking outfits were privileged to receive these hand-colored diplomas. A scarce and visually appealing document reminiscent of Russia’s ‘Golden Age.’ Pre-certified PSA/DNA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.