Military Merit Medal, 1917-1920, Part I

Figure 1: Silver Military Merit Medal on war ribbon with swords, 1917-1920, obverse. Image from the author’s archives

Introduction:

The Military Merit Medal (Militärverdienstmedaille), 1911-1917 is not at first glance a very important looking decoration. However to the Austrian officer corps and to the empire it was a decoration of substantial significance. This can be recognized when one considers that in the order of precedence of Austrian awards it preceded the Gold Bravery Medal. In fact this decoration was roughly the equivalent to the American Distinguished Service Medal in regard to the esteem with which its recipients were held within the empire. What follows is part 1 of the discussion of this significant award in which I will cover the medal numismatics including date of issue, reason for the award of this decoration, classes and types, interesting facts, hallmarks, design weight, size, type of material and variations.

Decoration Numismatics:

Date Issued: April 28. 1917 – 1920

Reason Issued:  To recognize extraordinary service in time of war by officers and military officials of a rank equivalent to an officer and after April 28, 1917 by civilians and civil servants who’s service had aided in the war effort..

Classes or Types:  This decoration was issued in two classes and two types.

  • Silver Military Merit Medal on war ribbon
  • Silver Military Merit Medal on war ribbon with swords
  • Bronze Military Merit Medal on war ribbon
  • Bronze Military Merit Medal on war ribbon with swords

Interesting Facts:

  • This award was only given to officers
  • Receipt of the award was as a result of receiving a commendation from the Emperor
  • The bronze medal on bravery ribbon could only be awarded once
  • All variations of the medals if awarded could be worn at the same time

Hallmarks:

  • The word BRONZE on the edge of the medal
  • The Vienna assay office mark on the edge of the medal (circle with the capital letter A

Design: A round medal with a raised rim and attached crowns at the top with a loop for attaching the medal to the suspension ring at the top of the crowns

Figure 2: Bronze Military Merit Medal on war ribbon with swords, 1917-1920, obverse. Image from the author’s archives

Obverse: A bust of King Karl in high relief facing right in a Field Marshals uniform and wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece and a grand cross ribbon.  Below his shoulder is the name of the maker, KAUTSCH (Heinrich Kautsch).  Around the bust is inscribed: CAROLVS. D. G. IMP. AVST. REX. BOH. ETC. ET. REX. APOST. HVNG.  The attached crowns represent the Austrian imperial crown on the viewers left and the Hungarian king’s crown on the right. A wreath composed of laurel on the right and oak on the left which is tied at the bottom with a ribbon is placed behind the crowns.  The crowns are struck with the medal.

Figure 3: Bronze Military Merit Medal on civil ribbon with swords, 1917-1920, reverse. Image from the author’s archives

Reverse: Within a wreath of laurel on the left and oak on the right, which is tied at the bottom with a bow, is inscribed, SIGNVM LAVDIS (A token of esteem).  The reverse of the crown is completely covered by the wreath.

Weight:

  • Silver medal = 20.4 grams
  • Silver gilt medal = 19.9 grams
  • Bronze gilt medal = 16.5 to 17 grams

Size:  The decoration without crown is 31 mm in diameter.  The crown is 15 mm high and 18 mm wide. Thus the overall height of the medal is 46 mm.

Type of Material: 

  • Silver
  • Silver gilt bronze
  • Bronze gilt
  • Bronze
  • Silver gilt war metal
  • War metal (a zinc based alloy)

Variations:  There are five variations of the silver medal and four variations of the bronze medal

  • Silver Medal Type I: as described with a dull silver finish
  • Silver Medal Type II : as described with a bright silver finish
  • Silver Medal Type III: as described in silver gilt war metal
  • Silver Medal Type IV: as described in war metal
  • Silver Type V: are examples that were privately engraved on the back
  • Bronze Type I: as described with a frosted gilt finish
  • Bronze Type II: as described above with a bright gilt finish
  • Bronze Medal Type III: as described above in bronze
  • Bronze Type IV: as described above in war metal

 

Hope you enjoyed this blog. Next time I will complete the description of the Military Merit Medal (Militärverdienstmedaille), 1917-1920

Rick

 

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