The "Pour le Merite for NCOs and Soldiers"

The Golden Military Merit Cross (Militar-Verdienstkreuz fur Unteroffiziere und Mannschaften) is unimposing in appearance but in terms of numbers awarded from its inception in 1864 thhough the end of World War I (1,808)
it is one of the more scarce Prussian awards. The cross was often referred to as the Pour le Merite for sergeants and soldiers.


R1
 

Lost Skeleton

Active member
Hello R1:

After posting your Verdienst Kreuz fur Frauen und Jungfrauen I had a feeling you might have one of these up your sleeve. Beautiful! I'll go out on a limb and say this is a silver-gilt piece. Is it hallmarked .938?

I have the following for your consideration. Mine is not hallmarked, and rather than being coined, or diestruck, it is multi-piece construction with both Medaillons applied separately (see picture three).

There is a test scratch at the 5 o'clock position of the WR medallion which reveals the composition to be gold. Furthermore, the cross doesn't possess the wartime 'T' die flaw, which I have already noted in your cross.

The $64,000.00 question is does my MVK represent a true gold issue cross or some manner of private purchase copy? No one has heard of an MVK constructed like this. Until another surfaces, it remains unique.

Chas.

PICT0213.jpg


PICT0214.jpg


PICT0217.jpg
 
Is it hallmarked .938?

Hi Chas: You are exactly correct, my MVK is a war time silver gilt piece marked "W" 938. Your example is very nice and most unusual. I have never seen an MVK constructed from multiple pieces. Yours also seems to be mounted with the reverse facing outward. References indicate that of the total number awarded only 54 MVK's were constructed from gold. If your MVK is an actual gold issue example, you are indeed fortunate.
Have you checked the dimensions and weight of your MVK? The specifications in Die Ehrenzeichen des Deutschen Reiches by Hessenthal and Schreiber list the weight of the gold MVK as 17.5 grams and the size as 38mm. My silver gilt piece has a weight of 17.3 grams and the size is 37.6mm.

R1
 

Lost Skeleton

Active member
Hello R1:

I'll attempt to check the weight and measurements when I return from Indianapolis. The MVK ring is held in place only by the fold in the ribbon. I discovered this last night while photographing it. I have since flipped it so that Kriegs Verdienst faces outward.

As you can see, the lettering on mine is proportioned differently than yours, and everything about the cross bears only superficial resemblance to the silver-gilt issue. I have never seen a gold issue MVK in the references, not even Prussian Blue. I know of nothing to compare it with.

The assembly is more like that found in the RAO and Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung for officers.

Chas.
 

Brian von Etzel

New member
Multi-piece construction, that is very interesting and from the photos very well done. Have you tried to unscrew the pieces? I wouldn't put any torque into it but I wonder...
 

Lost Skeleton

Active member
Hi Brian:

I haven't tried unscrewing the medallions, but I'll see what can be done. Some time after these pictures were first posted, R1 informed me (courtesy of a colleague) that issued gold MVKs were made exactly like the silver gilt pieces.

Chas.
 

zipperheads9

New member
Nice medals .I learn something almost everytime i venture here .I did not know that there were medals for NCO's and OR's that ranked so high ,in the Prussian Army Anyway.
zippey
 

Kaisertreu

New member
Don't mean to butt-in here, but have been Prussian Orders Collector for 40 yrs, & have owned several of these Crosses....If the full-size cross is of the same maker as the mini, & I believe it is, it is a private purchase item from the very outstanding Godet Firm, and was quite expensive at the time of purchase!....The Orders Commission authorised pieces were made by the Wagner Firm, and had to be returned on the death of the recipient, so those who could afford usually went to Godet to have their own pieces made so that they could set the award piece aside without risk of loss or damage, even though the Godet piece cost more than the Wagner piece!....Also, Godet was constantly in competition with Wagner for Orders Commission & Royal Family contracts, so his work was often superior to Wagner's, & his pieces are always very desireable....You have a real Treasure there....Kaisertreu
 

Lost Skeleton

Active member
Greetings Kaisertreu and welcome to the forum. Thank you for the information regarding the private purchase Godet MVK. My set was purchased as a pair, but without provenance. Would a Godet MVK be marked in the fashion of a Pour le Mérite, i.e., J.G.u.S?

Mine bears no markings whatsoever.

Chas.
 

Kaisertreu

New member
It was not required of any maker of such insignia that they maker-stamp their pieces...Even Gold & Silver content does not seem to have been required of private-purchase items....I usually consider that an un-marked piece was actually made by one of the firm's apprentice workers, and therefore would not be hallmarked..That was not uncommon practice, even though the workmanship is in no way inferior, and the same dies were used by the Master Craftsmen...It seems to have been a bit of a hit-or-miss practice...I have for instance two Stars of the Black Eagle Order, about 10 yrs. apart in manufacture, both identical by Wagner, one clearly marked, the other unmarked, but both clearly from the same dies....KAISERTREU
 
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