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The Godet made Pour le Mérite
 
Prince Friedrich of Brandenburg, the later King Friedrich I of Prussia, issued the “Ordre de la Générosité” in 1667. After Friedrich II (The Great) claimed the thrown in 1740 he changed the “Ordre de la Générosité” into the Order “Pour le Mérite” and awarded this renamed order for civil merit as well as for military merit. Finally on January 18, 1810, under King Friedrich-Wilhelm III the order became limited to being a reward for merit in battle. For exceptional merit the order was awarded with oak leaf. The decoration was then worn on a black ribbon with three silver stripes. On July 18, 1844, Friedrich Wilhelm IV issued a crown for those who wore the order decoration for more than 50 years. As a higher grade for Army Generals and Field Marshals King Wilhelm I issued the grand cross of the Order Pour le Mérite in 1866.

All Prussian order decorations were made of gold until 1916. On November 16, 1916, Wilhelm II signed a decree, ordering all formerly gold-based medals and order decorations to made in gilt silver.

The total number of awarded Pour le Mérite decorations, including the silver gilt ones, adds up as follows: 

Pour le Mérite

Pour le Mérite with oak leaf

687

122

The Pour le Mérite decoration below is one of the pieces awarded between 1916 and 1918. The piece is made from gilt silver and blue enamel. It still has its original shellac protection coating to prevent oxidation of the silver. The piece has the maker’s mark “J · G · u · S” for “Jean Godet und Söhne” as well as the by law required silver content mark “938” punched into the ring loop. 

Obverse

(click on picture to super size)

  

Reverse

(click on picture to super size)

  

The order decorations weights 33 grams and measures 52.5 x 54.5 mm.

The above-pictured Pour le Mérite decoration is a fine example made by the court jeweler Godet during the last 2 years of the First World War and is a contemporary original.

In 1761 the Godet firm was founded by Jean Godet. The Godet firm was one of the earliest order decoration jewelers in Germany. Under the management of Jean Fredric Godet the company became court jeweler to the Prussian Kings in 1828.

The Godet family ran the business as J. Godet & Söhne from approximately 1864 to sometime after 1924, when the name changed to Eugen Godet & Co. In the late 1920th early 1930th the name changed again to Gebrüder Godet & Co.

Other Godet reference pieces:

  • Identical piece at the “Zeughaussammlung” - the Historical Museum in Berlin. This piece also has an oak leaf attached. It was displayed in the museum before the German unification on a uniform worn by Kaiser Wilhelm II.

 

  • An identical designed Pour le Mérite, but made in gold as part of the British Royal Collection. Wilhelm I awarded the badge to the Duke Arthur of Connaught in November 1882 in recognition of the role played by the Prince in the battle of Tel-el-Kebir. The suspension ring shows an engraved “G”. This piece was displayed during the exhibition in 1996 at Holyroadhouse, Edinburgh and Windsor castle: “Royal Insignia of British and Foreign Orders of Chivalry from the Royal collection”. The piece is also published in the book for this exhibition as number 39.

     

     

  • The presentation Pour le Mérite of the later Generalmajor Paul Krause, Oberst and Regimentscommander of IR 158. He was awarded the Pour le Mérite April 01, 1918. The decoration was made on request of his officer corps in a very special way. His comrades did present this specific Pour le Mérite on his honorary day of being awarded the decoration. It is absolutely identical to all other Godet made pieces, except the fact, that J.Godet did use only the front part of his coining tooling, to keep the reverse of the piece blank for the special inscription as well as the hand detailing of the eagles and pie suspension loop. The arms of the cross show the names of the members of the officer corps hand engraved.

  • An identical piece in gilt Silver as offered by Andreas Thies in 1992 as lot number 119. Medal group of General Major Christoph Ralf von Egidy awarded October 31, 1918, showing the identical maker’s mark “J · G · u · S” for “Jean Godet und Söhne” as well as the by law required silver content mark “938” punched into the ring loop. 

  • Another piece is shown below worn by General Major Otto v.Lancelle. He was awarded the PlM October 09, 1918.

  • The following piece belongs to Major Karl von Phelwe, Batalionskommandeur im 2. Garde - Reserve - Regiment. He was awarded the PlM April 21, 1918. Despite the late date of the award a real golden Godet made PlM survived. 

 

© A. Schulze Ising, I/08


 
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