Wagner Silver-Gilt Pour le Mérite

Lost Skeleton

Active member
I haven't actively been collecting Imperial German awards for some time, but this proved an exception. After years of settling for gap-filler, postwar Zweitstück PLMs that run the gamut from sanctioned to schmuck, I finally landed a textbook wartime Wagner (with Eichenlaub, no less). Ignore the case, which is merely a repro for storage. As with all late war silver-gilt PLMs, the cross is solid .938 silver and proofed as such on the lower arm. The oakleaves are .800 silver. It's not perfect – the enamel is chipped below the "Po" in Pour – but the wear and tear is honest:

Wagner Silver-Gilt 1.jpg

.938 silver and W (for Wagner, Berlin):

Wagner Silver-Gilt 3.jpg

.800 silver proof on the Eichenlaub suspension ring:

Wagner Silver-Gilt 4.jpg

The eagles tell the story – nothing postwar can match their detail:

Wagner Silver-Gilt 2.jpg

For comparison, I refer to the below as an "After Wagner." Though the eagles are a rough approximation of the Wagner style, the beaks are not open and the detail is poor. Still, from a social distance, it is reasonably convincing. This unmarked PLM copy was purchased by its previous owner in England in 1948:

After Wagner.jpg

My other unofficial/postwar crosses:

First, a C. F. Rothe & Neffe, Wien. These were produced from the Weimar Era through 1970s. The more recent Rothe PLMs were merely for the collector market. Older crosses, like this one, feature a deeper blue enamel. The lettering is chase-engraved and the eagles applied individually. The suspension ring is marked .800:

C.F. Rothe & Neffe 1.jpg

C.F. Rothe & Neffe 2.jpg

Otto Schickle, Pforzheim: This is my favorite 3rd Reich Era (LDO L/15) private purchase PLM. The design is quite similar to earlier Godet private purchase crosses:

Otto Schickle Pforzheim.jpg

A Schickle variant illustrated in the firm's catalogue:

Otto Schickle Catalogue 1.JPG

Finally, Steinhauer & Lück, Ludensheid. Another 3rd Reich Manufacturer (LDO L/16), S&L PLMs enjoy a controversial status among collectors. The earliest S&Ls, like this one, are .800 silver-gilt. Later crosses are bronze-gilt, and, in my opinion, little more than mass-produced replicas. The archetypal S&L features eagles with crudely finished legs, and an "ur" in Pour connected by the respective serifs. In 1957, Steinhauer & Lück produced official "de-nazified" Wehrmacht awards and badges, and the firm exists well into the 21st century.

Steinhauer & Lück 1.jpg


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Lost Skeleton

Active member
Thank you one and all for the kind words.

Brian, I see the forum has a new look. I will have to learn my way around the manor anew. I have two more photos to share – portraits of Ernst Jünger, the last living recipient of the Pour le Mérite.

In advanced years he wears what I believe to be a Steinhauer & Lück Zweitstuck with the 50 year jubilee crown. It is certainly not the same PLM as in the wartime photo:valor-960x640.jpgim18c2_kl1.jpg
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Staff member
Yes Chas, we have entered the 21st C at last :) . It is actually much easier to post and get around the forum now. Naturally, I have read "Storm of Steel" but I have never seen either of these two photos before. Thanks for posting these.