In this blog I am going to discuss the Bravery Medal (Tapferkeitsmedaille) that was issued in 1866 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 1866, 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 during Franz Joseph’s reign, from 1866-1915. In subsequent blogs I will continue to discuss all of the versions of the bravery medal that were issued from 1789-1922
Date Issued: 1866 – February 14, 1915
Reason Issued: The gold medal and first class silver medal were issued 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 until 1914 not only for the reasons cited above but also for exceptional courage and commitment in peacetime.
Classes or Types: This decoration was issued in three classes
- Gold Bravery Medal
- Silver Bravery Medal, first class
- Silver Bravery Medal, second class
- 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 decoration when they became an officer.
- The gold bravery medal was the highest award for bravery for non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel
- From 1789 to 1918 there were 30 different versions of the bravery medal. These are versions 18, 19 and 20
- 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
- After August 19, 1914 a pension as follows was awarded along with the medal:
- Gold Bravery Medal = 30 Kronen per month
- Silver Bravery Medal, first class = 15 Kronen per month
- Silver Bravery Medal, second class = 7.50 Kronen month
- The mark of the Vienna Mint is often found on the rim of the medals in the one o’clock position
- The word Bronze is found on the edge of some medals
Design: A round medal with a 3mm vertical attachment with a flat oval coined suspension ring at the top.
Obverse: A bust of an older fully beaded Emperor Franz Joseph I in a marshal’s uniform, facing right, wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece and the grand cordon of the Order of Maria Theresia. Above the bust is inscribed: FRANZ JOSEPH I.V.G.G KAISER V. OESTERREICH. Below the bust of the emperor is the designer’s name. For the gold and silver medal, first class the name is LEISEK (Friedrich Leisek). For the Silver Medal, second class the name is TAUTENHAYN (Josef Hermann Tautenhayn.
Reverse Within a laurel wreath tied at the bottom with a bow and superimposed over two crossed flags and a standard is a two-line inscription: DER / TAPFERKEIT (For Bravery). On the flags is the Austro-Hungarian coat of arms.
- Gold Bravery Medal = 8 Ducats (28 grams)
- Gold Medal, Bronze Gilt, = 20.2 grams
- Silver Bravery Medal, first class = 17 grams
- Silver Bravery Medal, first class, bronze gilt = 17 grams
- Silver Bravery Medal, first class, Version with no medalist signature = 17.6 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: Gold, Silver and bronze gilt
- Type I: Gold Bravery Medal as described above
- Type II: Gold Bravery Medal in bronze gilt
- Type III: as described above except that the medals have a ball shaped suspension eye (this style suspension was introduced in February 14, 1915
- Type I: Silver Bravery Medal, first class as described above
- Type II: Silver Bravery Medal, first class in bronze gilt
- Type III: Silver Bravery Medal, first class without medalist signature
- Type IV: Silver Bravery Medal, first class as described above except that the medals have a ball shaped suspension eye (this style suspension was introduced in February 14, 1915
- Gold Medal and Silver Medal first class, Friderich Leisek
- Silver Medal Second class, Josef Tautenhayn
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: A red simulated leather case which sometimes has the name of the decoration in silver or gold embossed on the lid. The inside of the lid is in white silk and often has a maker’s logo in gold. The inner portion of the bottom of the case is in black fitted velvet.
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
Miniature: Miniatures of this decoration exist.
Hope you enjoyed this discussion. Until next time I hope you find joy in our shared interest