I. How to find Medal Rolls of people who received an order of merit after 1918?

1. With the proclamation of the Republic in October 5th 1910, the orders of merit awarded during the Constitutional Monarchy were abolished with the exception of the  Order of the Tower and Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit (1832). But, during the Great War, in 1917-18 the Republican Government decided to restore most some of the former orders, with the exception of the Order of Our Lady of the Conception of Vila Viçosa and the Order of Saint Elizabeth, for ladies.

The Archives of the Portuguese Orders of Merit awarded after 1917-18 are at the Chancery of the Portuguese Orders of Merit, a department of the Presidency of the Republic. Till 1973 the Chancery published a Yearbook containing the names of all people and institutions, national and foreign, awarded with the Portuguese Orders. They were listed by Order, classes, names and by the years of the publication of the presidential charter. It had also a section with the list of all bearers who died during the previous year.

The publication of the Yearbook was interrupted for several years and was only retaken in January 2006 containing the list covering the period 1975-2005, but only of Portuguese nationals. In 2007, 2008 and 2011 three other volumes were published by the Chancery with alphabetic tables.

Meanwhile, the Chancery of the Orders has a website with information on the Orders, the Statutes and a database of all people and institutions decorated with Portuguese Orders from 1918 onwards, including foreigners:

II. How can I research the awards of orders of merit made during 1789-1910?

The Archives of the Orders of the period before 1910 are held by the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, in Lisbon, spread through several funds, namely, those of the former Ministry of the Kingdom, for the period after 1789 and those of the Mesa da Consciência e Ordens and of the ancient military Orders. Also the funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hold relevant information.

But no complete Medal Rolls from the period after 1789 have ever been published, with the exception of the Order of the Tower and Sword (1808-1824), which have been researched and published by Paulo Estrela, Ordens e Condecorações Portuguesas 1793-1824, Lisboa, Tribuna da História, 2009.

III. How can I research the award of military medals?

Searches for the award of military medals can be made consulting in a Library, the Official Gazette or the Official publications of the Armed Forces or, by recurring to the Historical Army Archives and the Navy Library and Historical Archives.

IV. How can I determine the value of an insignia or a decoration?

To begin with, the novice must first identify the medal or the insignia which in some cases is a difficult job. Secondly, it is wise to consult Catalogs of Auctions, both made in Portugal and abroad, as well the websites of the many firms and dealers of medals and insignia of orders. A partial list of some relevant and well-known firms and dealers can be found in our Links page.

V. Where can I buy decorations and medals for my collection?

You can recur to specialized firms and dealers, both in Portugal and abroad, or to flea markets where decorations and medals often appear for sale. But before all, you should obtain information on the medals and decorations you are interested in, by reading the bibliography available and get as much information on it as you can. Forgeries are known to have sprung a little everywhere and so caution must be taken.

VI. Where can I obtain more information on orders, medals and decorations?

In most countries there are plenty of publications dealing with orders, decorations and medals, apart from Auction Catalogues or Price Lists published annually in some countries. However, the bibliography on orders, medals and decorations in Portugal is not abundant and some of the foreign publications which deal with Portuguese decorations are often misleading and with historical errors.

The Internet also offers a means of obtaining information on these matters but some websites are also rather misleading or superficial.

So, joining a Phaleristic Society is always a good starting point since it gives you the opportunity of meeting fellow collectors, exchanging information and learning from others experience and knowledge.