“Fifth Anniversary of the All-Russian Trade Union of Railway Workers” commemorative breast badge was instituted in 1923 by the resolution of the Plenary session of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Trade Union of Railway Workers, thus becoming the very first decoration of the railway workers’ trade union.
The All-Russian Council of Trade Unions of Railway Transport Workers, a.k.a. Vseprofzhel (“Всепрофжель”) was established on March 21, 1918 in accordance with the Decree of the First All-Russian Congress of Main Railway Committees and Trade Unions of Railway Transport. Vseprofzhel federated numerous trade unions of railway workers, e.g. those of engineers and technicians, telegraphers, teachers, surgeon assistants and pharmacists. The First All-Russian Delegate’s Conference of Railway Trade Unions held from 21 to 28 July 1918 in Moscow elected Council of the Vseprofzhel.
Vseprofzhel was disbanded in March 1919 by the Decree of the All-Russian Congress of Trade Unions of Railway Transport. Subsequently, All-Russian Trade Union of Industrial and Office Workers of Railway Transport (1919-1920) and General Union of Railway and Water Transport Workers (1920-1922) represented Soviet railway workers in early 1920s. It was the Second All-Russian Congress of Railway and Water Transport Workers held from 2 to 4 October 1922, that established Trade Union of Railway Workers as an autonomous institution.
The Plenary session of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions held in September 1934, had divided Trade Union of Railway Workers into separate Trade unions of Central Railways, Railways of the South, East and Far East, Central Asia, of Transport Factories Workers , as well as of Railway and Subway Construction Workers. All those trade unions have been finally reunited in 1948, and today the organization is known as the Russian Trade Union of Railway and Transport Construction Workers, a.k.a. Rosprofzhel (“Роспрофжел”) with a total membership of 1,5 million railway employees.
Centre of the badge showed steam locomotive coming down the track and facing us, with smoke hanging along the rolling stock and steam coming out at the sides. Distance between buffer-beam lamps was covered with red enameled and bore abbreviation “RSFSR” (“РСФСР”) standing for the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Figure of the man holding red enameled banner in his left hand with abbreviation “CK” (“ЦК”) standing for the Central Committee, was situated on the left side of the steam locomotive. The badge is circumscribed “All-Russ. Tr.” (“Всеросс. професс.”) on the left and “Railway Work.” (“железнодорожник.”) on the right in capital letters. All the words are underlined by distinct dots. The badge was topped with the railway emblem that had been used during the Tsarist era, long before the Socialist Revolution as an insignia of transportation agencies: crossed axe and anchor, the latter with its flukes pointing upwards. Semi-circular ribbon bearing inscription “Union” (“Союз”) in capital letters was placed below the emblem. Semi-circular ribbon bearing two dates “1918-1923” was superimposed on wheat ears at the bottom of the badge. Horizontal oval shield was placed just below that ribbon. It had three mintmarks of the Moscow District Assay Department of 1908 pattern: Greek letter “alpha” as a cipher of the assay office; profile of a female head wearing kokoshnik and facing right; “84” standing for the silver standard mark. That denotation of the Russian Imperial standardized hallmarking signified the silver fineness or purity in zolotniki (an obsolete Russian weight measure): 84 parts pure silver and 12 part copper (equivalent for .875 silver). That system of hallmarking became obsolete in 1927 and was replaced with the metric system.
Badges had counter-relief, or mirror reverses. Maker’s mark of jeweler A.Moreev, “AM” was placed inside rectangular plate at the bottom of the reverse, just below backside of the oval shield.
Intermediate round plate that was fixed to the nut before the nut for additional security, bore horizontal assayer’s mark “A.Moreev” (“А.Мореев”) minted in capital letters. Hallmark in the shape of the profile of a female head wearing kokoshnik and facing right, was placed at the bottom of the plate.
Badges measuring 34,5-35x41,8-42 mm and weighing 20,7 g were manufactured of silver and red enamel at the Moscow-based workshop of A.Moreev. Decoration was attached to the outerwear by screw soldered to its reverse, round nut and intermediate round plate.
Commemorative badge was issued to lead workers and activists of the All-Russian Trade Union of Railway Workers in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of that organization. Totally 251 persons were decorated, including almighty Felix Dzerzhinsky (11.09.1877-20.07.1926), the first People’s Commissar for Transport of the USSR, and Andrey Andreyev (30.10.1895-05.12.1971), Chairman of the Central Committee of the Trade Union of Railway Workers.