Order Decorations and Medals
are always mentioned in conjunction with bravery.
Everybody knows that the truth looks quite different.
Most decorations were founded to honor people in Arts &
Science as well as long and outstanding service - just civil
matters. Nevertheless, those awards actually given for bravery
are always most interesting. History is - as bad as it is -
war driven, and generated medals and decorations with "war"
decorations for bravery.
Besides the best
known Prussian order of the Pour le Mérite that
exclusively went to officers there is of course the
Military Honor Cross for the Prussian NCOs - the so
called Pour le Mérite for NCOs. Also, almost
every German state had an equivalent for its officers as
well as for its NCOs.
While the decorations for
officers were always made real pretty, in gold and
enamel, NCOs got only a plain silver medal and for
outstanding deeds a golden bravery medal, which represented just because of its weight of pure gold some value.
There are bravery medals for almost
all German states, for example the Württemberg bravery medal in
silver and gold, the Saxony Military St. Henry medal in
silver and gold or the Bavarian bravery medal, also in
silver and gold. Most of these have a long standing history
and were founded way back in history. The
Franco-Prussian-War was in most cases the initiator for
One could think that at
least the golden medals were protected from those typical
changes in material, mostly happening during the I World
War. Well, they weren't immune.
Because of their much higher value compared to orders
decorations, one would wonder, that they didn't change
from gold to silver quite some years earlier.
Looking at an extreme
wealthy kingdom like Bavaria shows, that those changes
were made without mercy. The last model of the Bavarian
bravery medal was changed from pure gold to silver gilt
in 1916. Prussia of course known for their thriftiness
did make the Military Honor Crosses quite some time
before 1916 in silver gilt. Like most of the others gilt
decorations, also the
medals were marked in a certain way to show its lesser
Therefore it isn't that easy
for "talented" medal dealers to just gild
the lower grades of a medal, that is coined with the same tools
and is identical to the real golden specimens.
The Saxony Military St.
Henry medal for example has a circular punch mark on its rim
(bronze gilt), and can be identified easily. Something
equal was implemented for the Bavarian bravery medal. Those
pieces show the following punch mark on their rim:
(the C stands for the
half-moon Silver symbol)
© I/01 Andreas M. Schulze