Franz Joseph Bravery Medal 1859-1866

Figure 1: Gold 1859-1866 Bravery Medal. Image from the author’s archive.


In this blog I am going to discuss the Bravery Medal (Tapferkeitsmedaille) that was issued in 1859 with the image of Franz Joseph on the obverse. The Bravery Medal as a decoration had existed since it was first established by Joseph II in 1789. The first decorations issued specifically for bravery were called Honor Decorations (Ehrenzeichen) until 1809 when the next decoration in the series was re-named as the Bravery Medal (Tapferkeitsmedaille). In addition to the medal issued in 1789, versions of this medal designated as Honor Medals were issued in 1792 by Franz II and 1804 by Franz I. Versions designated as Bravery Medals were issued prior to 1859, in 1809 by Franz I and in 1839 by Ferdinand I. In 1849 when Franz Joseph came to the throne he modified the bravery medal to assure that it was consistent with the other awards that bore his image during this phase of his reign. He further modified the bravery medal in 1859 and would again in 1866 and for a final time in 1915. In this blog I am going to discuss the Bravery medal as issued from 1859-1866. In subsequent blogs I will continue to discuss all of the versions of the bravery medal that were issued from 1789-1922.

Decoration Numismatics:

Date Issued:  1859-1866

 Reason Issued:  The gold and silver first class medals were to reward bravery by non-commissioned officers and enlisted men in the face of an armed enemy. While the silver medal second class was given not only for the reasons cited above but also for exceptional courage and commitment in peacetime. Medals could be awarded to members of allied forces.

Classes or Types:  This decoration was issued in three classes

  • Gold Bravery Medal
  • Silver Bravery Medal, first class
  • Silver Bravery Medal, second class

Interesting Facts:

  • On June 5, 1849 the Emperor Franz Joseph I declared that all grades of the bravery medal could be worn at the same time.
  • Officers who had won the medal as Non-commissioned officers or enlisted men were allowed to continue wearing the medal when they became an officer.
  • The gold bravery medal was the highest award for bravery for non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel
  • This medal was struck in 1859 when the stock of the medals struck in 1849 was exhausted. They were initially awarded for service in the conflict in Lombardy in 1859 against the Sardinians and the French. They were also awarded during the war with Denmark in 1866.
  • From 1789 to 1918 there were 30 different versions of the bravery medal. These are versions 15, 16 and 17.
  • This decoration in all of its variations was up to the issuance of the Karl Troop Cross in 1916 the most issued decoration in the armed forces

Hallmarks:  None know

Design:  A round medal with a 3mm vertical attachment with a flat oval coined suspension ring at the top

Figure 2: Silver Bravery Medal, first class, obverse. Image courtesy of the Dorotheum.

Obverse: A bust of Emperor Franz Joseph I corresponding to his age at the time with mustache and side burns facing the viewers left. He is wearing a Field Marshal uniform decorated with the Order of the Golden Fleece and the grand cordon and star of the Maria Theresia Order. Above the bust is inscribed:  FRANZ JOSEPH I. V. G. G. KAISER V. OESTERREICH. Below the bust of the emperor is the name of the designer, J.D. Boehm.

Figure 3: Silver Bravery Medal, first class, reverse. Image courtesy of the Dorotheum.

Reverse A laurel wreath tied at the bottom with a bow and superimposed over four crossed flags and two standards. On the flags is the Austro-Hungarian coat of arms. Within the wreath is a two-line inscription: DER / TAPFERKEIT (For Bravery).


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


  • Gold Bravery Medal = 40 mm in diameter.
  • Silver Bravery Medal, first class = 40 mm in diameter.
  • Silver Bravery Medal, second class = 30 mm in diameter but thicker than the gold and silver bravery medals .

Type of Material

  • 986 fine Gold
  • Silver

Variations:  None known.

Designer: Joseph Daniel Bohm

Manufacturer: Hauptmunzamt Wien (Imperial Mint Vienna)

Number Issued: Unknown

  • It is known that a total of 2,007 Gold Bravery Medals Were Issued from 1789-1914

Case: Unknown

Figure 4: War Ribbon. Image from the author’s archive.

Ribbon: A 38 to 42 mm wide crimson and white laddered war ribbon worn as a straight or tri-fold ribbon and exclusively as a tri-fold ribbon after 1861. The straight ribbon was worn suspended from a button hole and the tri-fold ribbon on the left side of the chest

Attachments: None

Miniature: Miniatures of this decoration exist. They are 15.9 mm in diameter and weigh 2.3 grams

Figure 5: 1859 Silver Bravery Medal miniature. Image from  the author’s archive.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. I look forward to sharing information with you on another Austrian award in the near future.


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