A Bavarian Bravery Medal Mystery

This grouping was previously offered by a Munich auction house in 2002. The items in the group consist of the Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille identification card and medals of Adolf Fichtner. Adolf Fichtner was awarded the Silver Bavarian Bravery Medal for action at Verdun on March 29, 1916 when he was a Vizefeldwebel in the 12th Company of Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 13. Adolf Fichtner was later awarded the Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal for action at Wolhynien (Ukraine) on June 21, 1916 when he was a Vizefeldwebel and Offizierstellvertreter in the 9th Company of Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 13. It was rather uncommon for an NCO to be awarded both the Gold and the Silver Bavarian Bravery Medals. The reverse of the Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille Ausweis shows that Adolf Fichtner paid his membership dues through 1953. Note that Adolf Fichtner is listed on the Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeits medaille membership list published in 1955.

 

A first glance the Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal and the Silver Bavarian Bravery Medal in the group below of Adolf Fichtner seem like all of the other awards of this type. However, if we look a bit closer, some features of these awards vary from what is usually encountered.

 

 

Figure 1-Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille Ausweis (indentification) and Bavarian Bravery Medals of Adolf Fichtner. Image from author’s archive.

Figure 1-Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille Ausweis (indentification) and Bavarian Bravery Medals of Adolf Fichtner. Image from author’s archive.

 

 

Figure 2-Reverse of the Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille Ausweis showing that Adolf Fichtner paid his membership dues through 1953. Image from author’s archive.

Figure 2-Reverse of the Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille Ausweis showing that Adolf Fichtner paid his membership dues through 1953. Image from author’s archive.

 

 

Figure 3-Obverse of Adolf Fichtner’s Silver Bavarian Bravery Medal. Image from author’s archive.

Figure 3-Obverse of Adolf Fichtner’s Silver Bavarian Bravery Medal. Image from author’s archive.

 

 

Figure 4-Reverse of Adolf Fichtner’s Silver Bavarian Bravery Medal. Image from author’s archive.

Figure 4-Reverse of Adolf Fichtner’s Silver Bavarian Bravery Medal. Image from author’s archive.

 

 

Figure 5-Edge of Adolf Fichtner’s Silver Bavarian Bravery Medal showing the “980” marking. Image from author’s archive.

Figure 5-Edge of Adolf Fichtner’s Silver Bavarian Bravery Medal showing the “980” marking. Image from author’s archive.

 

 

The Silver Bavarian Bravery Medal of Adolf Fichtner is one of the known official coinages of the medal. However, upon closer inspection, a “980” mark was punched into the rim of the medal denoting the 980/1000 silver content of the medal. This is unusual as most medals of this coinage have no such marking.

 

 

Figure 6-Obverse of Adolf Fichtner’s Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal. Image from author’s archive.

Figure 6-Obverse of Adolf Fichtner’s Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal. Image from author’s archive.

 

 

Figure 7-Reverse of Adolf Fichtner’s Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal. Image from author’s archive.

Figure 7-Reverse of Adolf Fichtner’s Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal. Image from author’s archive.

 

 

Figure 8-Detail of the Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal showing the die-sinker’s mark and edge inscription. Image from author’s archive.

Figure 8-Detail of the Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal showing the die-sinker’s mark and edge inscription. Image from author’s archive.

 

 

A closer look at the Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal reveals the die-sinker’s mark “fm” on the obverse in the neckline of the bust of Maximilian Joseph. The obverse and reverse designs are similar to the official medal, but differ in small details. The suspension loop at the top of the medals is also of a different design than the official medals. Most interesting however is the edge of the medal, which is impressed “B. HAUPTMÜNZAMT (circle around a dot) 900f”. This marking signifies: Bavarian State Mint 900/1000 (gold) fine. This type of marking was certainly used on items minted by the Bavarian State Mint from the 1920’s through the 1960’s and may have been utilized even slightly earlier or later than these dates. This medal weighs 29.79 grams.

 

Other similar examples of this medal are known to exist but are seldom encountered. An inquiry to the Bavarian State Mint resulted in their statement that they had no record of such a medal being minted. This could be due to the medal being minted prior to 1945, and the record of such medals being subsequently destroyed at the end of the Second World War. Or perhaps, they do not retain such records.

 

A bit of research revealed a possible and likely identity of the die-sinker. The Munich firm of Graviertechnik Müller exists today and in 1934 Franz Müller started work there.1 In 1963 Franz Müller Jr. started working as an engraver with the firm. Per their website, they have been preparing dies for the Bavarian State Mint for over fifty (50) years. Unfortunately, inquiries to this firm to confirm their work regarding the die for this medal went unanswered.

 

The question then arises as to why such a medal exists and why Adolf Fichtner would have such a medal. The Bavarian State Mint currently produces coins and commemorative medals.2 These commemorative medals are available to the public. It is known through existing Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille correspondence that replacement medals were ordered by their membership during the 1950’s. The letter featured below from Hugo Schmitt Ordenspräsident Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille dated December 28, 1954 mentions that “fine-silber” replacements were available for DM 22 and “golden” replacements were available for DM 165. It mentions that the firm that supplies these is the supplier for the House of Wittelsbach. It is not known however who produced these replacements, nor what they looked like. It is possible that Adolf Fichtner’s original Gold Bavarian Bravery Medal was lost, stolen, or destroyed, and he needed a replacement. I find it entirely possible that he could have purchased this piece during the 1950’s. I have noticed that the suspensions on surviving examples vary slightly. The Bavarian State Mint may have sold these items without a suspension loop which Fichtner could have had a jeweler add at a later time.

 

 

Figure 9-Letter discussing the availability of replacement medals for Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille members. Image from author’s archive.

Figure 9-Letter discussing the availability of replacement medals for Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille members. Image from author’s archive.

 

 

Silver medals struck from dies produced by engraver “fm” are also known.3 The example referenced has identical obverse and reverse features and the neckline of the bust of Maximilian Joseph is also marked “fm”. The edge of this example is impressed “BAYER. HAUPTMÜNZAMT· FEINSILBER”.

 

In summary, although the gold Fichtner Bavarian Bravery Medal was not officially-awarded and is a later-striking, probably from the 1950’s, existing evidence supports that the piece was most likely purchased by Fichtner to replace a medal that was lost, stolen, or destroyed. Such a piece is therefore numismatically significant and historically important.

 

Thank you for your interest regarding this grouping of awards. Comments are welcome.

– Lorin

 

Literature:

Bearbeitet vom Bayerischen Kriegsarchiv. Bayerns Goldenes Ehrenbuch. Verlag Joseph Hyronimus, München, 1928.

Schmitt, Hugo. Orden der Bayerischen Tapferkeitsmedaille, Mitgliederverzeichnis. Druck: H. Bayerl, München, 1955.

 

Annotations:

  1. http://www.graviertechnikmueller.de/produkte/medaillen/
  2. http://www.hma.bayern.de/index.php/en/products/medals.html
  3. http://h2385226.stratoserver.net/wbb4/index.php/Thread/65557-Bayern-Milit%C3%A4r-Verdienst-Medaille-Tapferkeitsmedaille-f%C3%BCnfte-und-letzte-Ausf%C3%BChru/

 

Note:  In order to access Annotation link “3” one must first log into the Sammlergemeinschaft Deutscher Auszeichnungen (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ordenskunde e. V.) website.  Then please view the Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 2:01pm entry by “waldo”.

 

6 Comments
  1. Servus from Bavaria. I mean the silver medal is a fake. A silver mark did not exist with original Bavarian bravery medals. If a gold medal was awarded, the silver medal had to be returned, so that a silver medal should not be available at the estate. Unfortunately, the question of the originality can not be finally clarified by the pictures.

    Best regards waldo

    • Servus. Thank you Waldo for your excellent observations. Thank you also for the information about the return of the Silber TKM upon award of the Goldene TKM. I was not previously aware of this. The mystery regarding these items deepens! As noted, I have never seen this silver marking on a Silber TKM previously. And, since it should not be in the estate, many questions arise. This coinage as you know is a reverse-die variation with the lion with his tongue sticking out. It is therefore unusual for two reasons. It certainly does not conform to most pre-1918 awarded pieces in this regard.

  2. Servus, the “Ries” -medal has already been granted in principle. The variant with the outstretched tongue of the lion is known. But I’m not sure if the medal is an original. I have already seen very good forgeries, which can not be recognized immediately on the pictures. I do not mean the imprinted “Ries” counterfeits. The one can recognize relatively easily at the variegated stamp image.

    In the SDA Forum “Collective Community of German Awards”, the theme of the Bavarian Bravery Medal has already been relatively well developed. If you feel like it, you can register for a free use there, and you can find out more, not only about the Bavarian bravery medal.

    Best wishes
    Waldo

    • Servus. I have seen other finely-cast forgeries of the type that you mention. There is a Württemberg Goldene MVM finely-cast copy in gold that I have seen that comes to mind. The edges were ground smooth and beveled to hide the mold seam. The quality was good, but under high-magnification it is clear that it is a copy.

      Thank you for the information regarding multiple TKM awards. Was there a certificate (Urkunde) with the money (Geld) for the award for new bravery for a previous Goldene TKM recipient? Or was it merely mentioned in the Militärpaß?

      The SDA forum is great! I have admired your postings there often. MfG, Lorin

  3. I just saw that the link to the SDA is already listed above.(“Collective Community of German Awards” => http://h2385226.stratoserver.net/wbb3/index.php?page=Portal)

    Best wishes
    waldo

  4. Servus,

    I hope I understand you correctly because my English is not the best.

    I know of no case, where a money prize was paid for another brave act after the award of a golden bravery medal. Whether there was a document and whether this was registered in the military pass, I do not know. Sorry
    I know entries of money in military passports, which, however, had nothing to do with another bravery act after the gold bravery medal. I know that during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-71, money was levied for certain events by private individuals or companies, such as the soldier Joseph Schroll of the 11th IR “von der Tann”. He was the first to enter Weißenburg on August 4, 1870, and opened the city gate. For this, he got the silver bravery medal, then the Prussian EK 2, and a money prize issued by private individuals in Berlin.

    Best wishes
    waldo

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join OMSA

Join now to start taking advantage of the member benefits including the Journal of the Orders and Medals Society, Ribbon Bank, Library, Annual Conventions, Publication Program and much more!
Join Now!

Site Login