Bravery Medal, 1839-1849

Figure 1: Ferdinand 1839-1849 Gold Bravery Medal, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Introduction:

In this blog I am going to discuss the 1839-1849 Bravery Medal (Tapferkeitsmedaille). These were the ninth – eleventh medals issued by the Austrian Empire specifically as a bravery medal. In previous blogs I have described the evolution of the bravery medal from the first one issued in 1789-1791 by the authority of Emperor Joseph II (see previous blogs) up to 1839. In this and subsequent blogs I am going to take the reader through the continued evolution of the bravery medals to the last of this type of medal issued in 1917-1922 by Emperor Karl I.

Decoration Numismatics:

Date Issued:  1839 – 1849

Reason Issued:  The gold and silver medal (after 1848 Silver Medal, first class) were issued from 1839-1849 as a reward for officers in the armed forces who exhibited bravery in combat with an armed enemy. The Silver Medal Second class was issued from 1848-1849 to non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel not only for bravery but also for exceptional courage and commitment in piece time,. These medals were issued for the wars with Sardinia and the Hungarian Revolt. The second class was specifically intended to reward solders at or below the rank of Feldwebel or Wachtmeister.

Classes or Types:  Three

  • Gold Bravery Medal (1839-1848)
  • Silver Bravery Medal 1839-August 12, 1848 (Silver Bravery Medal, first class from August 12, 1848-1849)
  • Silver Bravery Medal second class, August 19, 1848-1849

Interesting Facts:

  • From 1839-1848 only officers were eligible to receive the gold and silver medals
  • From 1848-1849 only officers were eligible to receive the Gold Bravery Medal and the Silver Bravery Medal, first class and only enlisted personnel were eligible to receive the Silver Bravery Medal, second Class
  • Recipients could not wear multiple awards but only the highest award received. Thus gold medal winners who had also won the silver medal were not allowed to wear the silver medal
  • The Silver Medal, second class decoration was referred to by Austrians as the soldiers Maria Theresia Order
  • These medals were worn on straight ribbons until 1848 and after 1848 on tri-fold ribbons
  • In 1848 Ferdinand I expanded the number of classes of the Bravery Medal by adding a small silver medal
  • On August 19, 1848 the Silver Bravery Medal was renamed the Silver Bravery Medal, first class to conform to the nomenclature of the smaller silver bravery medal which was designated the Silver Bravery Medal, second class.
  • The gold medal and silver medal issued from 1839-1849 were only given for service in the war with Sardinia and the Hungarian Revolt.
  • From 1789 to 1918 there were 30 different versions of the bravery medal. These are versions 9, 10 and 11
  • Until 1916 with the issuance of the Karl Troop Cross this medal was in its various versions the most commonly issued decoration to the armed forces

Hallmarks:  The Vienna Mint Mark = A on the Silver Medal, second class

Design:  A round medal with a raised rim and a coined flat oval eye at the top through which the ribbon passed when it is worn on a straight ribbon and a clip passes when worn on a tri-fold ribbon(see Figure 1 above).

Figure 2: Ferdinand 1848-1849 Silver Bravery Medal, second class, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Obverse (Figure 2): A bust of Emperor Ferdinand I facing to the viewers right and looking older than in previous medals with close cropped curly hair and a victors laurel wreath tied at the bottom with a ribbon at the temples. Around the bust is the inscription FERDINAND KAISER VON OESTERREICH, translation: Ferdinand Emperor of Austria. Below the neck of the bust is the signature of the medalist (for the gold and silver medal and later the Silver Medal, first class I.D. Boehm F. (The F is not part of the signature of the medalist but rather stands for fabrikat or in English fabricated) or K. Lange for the Silver Medal, second class.

Figure 3: Ferdinand 1848-1849 Silver Bravery Medal, second class, reverse. Image from author’s archive.

Reverse: The reverse of the medal has four crossed flags and two crossed standards at the bottom.  The two front flags can be seen through the leaves of the laurel wreath and appear to have the Imperial Eagle on them, over which is superimposed a laurel wreath which is tied at the bottom with a bow. Within the wreath and above the flags are the words DER TAPFERKEIT (for bravery)

Weight:

  • Gold Bravery Medal = 8 Ducats (28 grams)
  • Silver Bravery Medal (Silver Bravery Medal, first class= 17 grams
  • Silver Bravery Medal, second class = 17 grams

Size: 

  • Gold Bravery Medal = 40 mm in diameter
  • Silver Bravery Medal (Silver Bravery Medal, first class = 40 mm in diameter
  • Silver Bravery Medal, second class = 30 mm in diameter

Type of Material:  986/1000 Gold and Silver

Variations: 

  • Gold Bravery Medal Type I: As described above
  • Gold Bravery Medal Type II : As described above except that it has a wider base on the suspension ring
  • Silver Bravery Medal (Silver Bravery Medal, first class) Type I: As described above
  • Silver Bravery Medal (Silver Bravery Medal, first class) Type II: As described above except that it has a wider base on the suspension ring
  • Silver Bravery Medal, second class Type I = On the obverse the letter E of the word LANGE is further from the end of the bust and the letter O of the word VON is above the laurel wreath.
  • Silver Bravery Medal, second class Type II = On the obverse the letter E of the word LANGE is touching with the bust, while the letter V of the word VON is found above the front of the laurel wreath.
  • Silver Bravery Medal, second class Type III = On the obverse the letter E on this strike is further from the end of the bust and the letter V of the word VON is above the laurel leaf at the front of the wreath.
  • Silver Bravery Medal, second class Type IV = as described except that it is suspended from a ring attached to the medal with a narrow 3 mm handle

Figure 4: Silver Medal First Class Type I, obverse.Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 5: Silver Medal Second Class Type IV, obverse. Image from author’s archive.

Designer:

  • Gold Bravery Medal = Josef Daniel Boehm
  • Silver Bravery Medal (Silver Bravery Medal first class) = Joseph Daniel Boehm
  • Silver Bravery Medal Second Class = Konrad Lange

Manufacturer: Hauptmunzamt Wien (Imperial Mint Vienna)

Number Issued:  Between 1848 and 1849 there were two bravery medals issued one of which was the Silver Bravery medal second class

Case:  Unknown

Figure 6: The War Ribbon on which all bravery medals were awarded. Image from the author’s archive.

Ribbon: A strait or tri-fold 40 mm wide, originally dark-rose and white laddered ribbon, with 20 mm wide dark-rose center stripes and 5 mm wide side strips and equally wide white margins, later however with ribbon was Ponceau (Poppy) red with the same measurements as previously described for the dark-Rose red ribbon.

Attachments:  None

Miniature:  None known

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