Phaleristics, from the Greek mythological hero
Phalerus In Greek mythology, Phalerus (; Ancient Greek: Φάληρος) was the son of Alcon from Athens. He is counted among the Argonauts.Apollonius Rhodius, ''Argonautica'', 1. 96 - 97 Pausanias, ''Description of Greece'', 1. 1. 4 He also attended the we ...
( el, links=no, Φάληρος, ''Phaleros'') via the Latin ('heroics'), sometimes spelled faleristics, is an auxiliary science of history and numismatics which studies orders,
fraternities A fraternity (from Latin '' frater'': " brother"; whence, "brotherhood") or fraternal organization is an organization, society, club or fraternal order traditionally of men associated together for various religious or secular aims. Fratern ...
, and award items, such as medals,
ribbons A ribbon or riband is a thin band of material, typically cloth but also plastic or sometimes metal, used primarily as decorative binding and tying. Cloth ribbons are made of natural materials such as silk, cotton, and jute and of synthetic ma ...
, and other decorations.


The subject includes orders of chivalry (including military orders),
orders of merit The Order of Merit (french: link=no, Ordre du Mérite) is an order of merit for the Commonwealth realms, recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Established in 1902 by Ki ...
, and
fraternal order A fraternal order is a fraternity organised as an order, with traits alluding to religious, chivalric or pseudo-chivalric orders, guilds, or secret societies. Contemporary fraternal orders typically have secular purposes, including social, ...
s. These may all in turn be official, national, state entities, or civil, religious, or academic-related ones. The field of study also comprises comparative honour systems, and thus in a broader sense also history (
art history Art history is the study of aesthetic objects and visual expression in historical and stylistic context. Traditionally, the discipline of art history emphasized painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, ceramics and decorative arts; yet today, ...
), sociology, and
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, societies, and linguistics, in both the present and past, including past human species. Social anthropology studies patterns of behavi ...
. In terms of objects, these include award items such as medals and their accessories, ribbon bars,
badge A badge is a device or accessory, often containing the insignia of an organization, which is presented or displayed to indicate some feat of service, a special accomplishment, a symbol of authority granted by taking an oath (e.g., police and f ...
s, pins, award certificate documentation, etc., and phaleristics may also designate the field of collecting related items. Although established as a scientific sub-discipline of history, phaleristics usually studies orders and decorations "detached from their bodies".

Notable phalerists

King George VI loved the study of phaleristics, going to the extent of personally overseeing his uniform designs and ribbon placements. He is known to have designed a few British military decorations for the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by English and Scottish kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against ...
. The Russian phalerist Julius Iversen studied orders and medals in the 19th century.


Further reading


External links

at GlobalSecurity.org {{Authority control Numismatics Exonumia Honours systems Orders, decorations, and medals Award items Collecting