Red Cross Decoration, Part II

Introduction:

In this blog I am going to discuss the Red Cross Decoration (Ehrenzeichen vom Roten Kreuz), first class in some detail. Readers may wish to review the previous blog I have published on the Red Cross Merit Star prior to reading this one. The previous blog title is Red Cross Decoration; Part I. Reading this blog may help to place this discussion in context.

Figure 1: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 1: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration. Image from the author’s archive.

Decoration Numismatics:

Date Issued:  This decoration was authorized on August 22, 1914 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the ratification of the Geneva Convention in 1864 and was issued until 1923.

Reason Issued:  This decoration was issued for meritorious service in support of the Red Cross, in time of war.  The insignia with war decoration was an award for actions in support of the humane efforts of the Red Cross.  The insignia without war decoration were issued for significant donations to the Red Cross in support of the war effort. The class of the decoration received was determined for those with war decoration by the social or military rank of the recipient and for those without war decoration by the amount of the donation.

Classes or Types:  This decoration was originally issued in three classes with a forth class: the officer cross, added in 1915.

  • Red Cross Merit Star with and without war decoration
  • Red Cross Decoration First Class with and without war decoration
  • Red Cross Officer Cross with war decoration (July 22, 1915-1918)
  • Red Cross Decoration Second Class with and without war decoration

Interesting Facts:

  • The awards without war decoration were given to recognize a donation to the Red Cross in support of the war effor
  • Red Cross Decoration First Class was given for a donation of 500 Krona per year
  • The Red Cross Decoration First Class could only be issued by the Emperor
  • Emperor Franz Joseph was the Proprietor of the Red Cross and thus of the decoration
  • Nominations for the Red Cross Decoration First Class had to be made by the Patron, Acting Patron of the Red Cross or the Administrator of the Red Cross.
  • Award Diplomas for the Red Cross Decoration First Class badge were signed by the Emperor

Hallmarks: 

  • The Vinc Mayor and Sons hallmark
  • The 1872-1922, 900 fine silver hallmark
  • The hallmark of the Vienna Assay Office
  • The Rothe & Neffe hallmark
  • The 1872– 1922, 800 fine silver hallmark
  • The hallmark of G.A. Scheid

Design: A silver and enamel Latin cross

Figure 1: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 1: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration, obverse. Image from the author’s archive.

Obverse

Red Cross Decoration, First Class with war decoration (Figure 1): A silver Latin cross with chased edges.  Inside the edge of the cross is a 2 mm wide band of opaque white enamel. Inside the white portion of the cross is the body of the cross which is enameled transparent red.  A fine chased line of silver separates the white and red portions of the cross.  In the center of the cross is a 17 mm round circle of silver edged transparent red enamel in which is inscribed in silver letters PATRIAE AC HVMANITATI (Patriotism and Humanity).  Inside the circle is a silver edged transparent red enameled Geneva cross on a white opaque enameled background.  Attached to the arms of the cross is an enameled wreath.  It is composed of oak leaves on the viewers  left and laurel on the right.  The wreath is tied at the bottom with a silver bow.  The wreath is enameled transparent green with red berries.  The eye at the top of the cross is a stylized wedge. Passing through the eye is an oblong channeled suspension ring.

Figure 2: Red Cross Decoration , first class Image from the author's archive.

Figure 2: Red Cross Decoration , first class, obverse. Image from the author’s archive.

Red Cross Decoration, First Class (Figure 2): A silver Latin cross with chased edges.  Inside the edge of the cross is a 2 mm wide band of opaque white enamel.  Inside the white portion of the cross is the body of the cross, which is enameled transparent red.  A fine chased line of silver separates the white and red portions of the cross.  In the center of the cross is a 17 mm silver edged circle of transparent red enamel in which is inscribed in silver letters PATRIAE AC HVMANITATI (Patriotism and Humanity).  Inside the circle is a silver edged transparent red enameled Geneva cross on a white opaque enameled background.

Figure 3: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration, reverse.  Image courtesy of  Dorotheum.

Figure 3: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum.

Reverse:

Red Cross Decoration, First Class with war decoration (Figure 3): A silver Latin cross with chased edges.  Inside the edge of the cross is a 2 mm wide band of opaque white enamel.  Inside the white portion of the cross is the body of the cross, which is enameled transparent red.  A fine chased line of silver separates the white and red portions of the cross.  In the center of the cross is a silver edged circle of transparent red enamel with a 10 mm white enameled center medallion within which are the dates 1864 and 1914, one above the other in silver. Attached to the obverse arms of the cross is a wreath which is plain silver on the reveres.

Figure 4: Red Cross Decoration , first class, reverse. Image courtesy of  Dorotheum.

Figure 4: Red Cross Decoration , first class, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum.

Red Cross Decoration, First Class (Figure 4): A silver Latin cross with chased edges.  Inside the edge of the cross is a 2 mm wide band of opaque white enamel.  Inside the white portion of the cross is the body of the cross, which is enameled transparent red.  A fine chased line of silver separates the white and red portions of the cross.  In the center of the cross is a silver edged circle of transparent red enamel with a 10 mm white enameled center medallion on which are the dates 1864 and 1914, one above the other in silver.

Weight:

  • Red Cross Decoration First Class with war decoration = 36 grams
  • Red Cross Decoration First Class = 31 grams

Size:

  • Red Cross Decoration First Class with war decoration = 56 mm in height and 46 mm in width, not including the attached eye.
  • Red Cross Decoration First Class = 56 mm in height and 46 mm in width, not including the attached eye.

Type of Material: Silver and enamel

Manufacturer:

  • Vinc Mayor and sons
  • A. Scheid
  • F. Rothe and Neffe
Figure 5: Red Cross First Class Decoration Case, exterior, Image from the author's archive.

Figure 5: Red Cross First Class Decoration Case, exterior, Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 6: Red Cross First Class Decoration Case, interior, Image from the author's archive.

Figure 6: Red Cross First Class Decoration Case, interior, Image from the author’s archive.

Case: Cases are rectangular with a rounded end in red simulated leather or red cloth covered tops and sepia bottoms. They are fitted inside with a plush simulated velvet interior which may be either black or white. The interior of the lid is white satin and often has the maker’s logo. They have embossed decorations on the top which are gilt filled and also have an inscription: (Patriae/ ac /Humanitati/ 1864-1914). Translation: Patriotism and humanity 1864-1914. Those for badges with the war decoration also have the letters K.D. in gold below the inscription.

Figure 7: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration, miniature. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 7: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration, miniature. Image from the author’s archive.

Miniature: There are a wide range of miniatures of this decoration

Figure 8: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 8: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 9: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration on a bow. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 9: Red Cross Decoration , first class with war decoration on a bow. Image from the author’s archive.

Ribbon: the basic ribbon design is white with two red side stripes

  • Red Cross Decoration First Class The men’s decoration is suspended from a 50 mm wide white neck ribbon with two 4 mm wide red stripes, which are 4 mm from the edge of the ribbon and 4 mm apart.
  • The woman’s ribbon is the same size but was in the form of a bow.

Note: In the case of the women’s first class decoration the badge is affixed to the ribbon by  means of a 20 mm silver bow attachment.

Figure 10: Red Cross chest Ribbon with miniature insignia. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 10: Red Cross chest Ribbon with miniature 1st class insignia. Image from the author’s archive.

 

Figure 11: a ribbon bar with  13 ribbons the seventh of which is the red cross decoration with attached 1st class insignia. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 11: a ribbon bar with 13 ribbons the seventh of which is the red cross decoration with attached 1st class insignia. Image from the author’s archive.

Some notable recipients of the Red Cross Decorating first class:

Recipients of the Red Cross Decoration first class                                                                                                                   

  • The first award of the first class decoration without war decoration was on November 30, 1914 to industrialist magnet Hugo Kostersitz of Marenhorst in Vienna
  • The first award of the first class decoration without war decoration to a women was to Leopoldine Wittgenstein in Vienna on January 8, 1915
  • Additional early recipients were: Anton Dreher a great land owner in KleinSchwechat, Max Ritter von Gutmann, a mining expert, Dr. Alfons Thorsch, Kurt Wittgenstein and Ludwig Wittgenstein

Recipients of the Red Cross Decoration first class with war decoration

  • The first award of the first class decoration with war decoration was to Vera Stefanowicz, President of the Czernowitz Woman’s Committee of the National Association of the Red Cross on January 31, 1915.
  • The first award of the first class decoration with war decoration to a man was on February 11, 1915 to Chief Medical Officer, First Class, Dr. Franz Pick, Chief Health Officer of the Military Headquarters in Vienna

Award Certificates:

Award certificates were issued with the Red Cross Decoration First Class

Figure 12: General of Infantry Sandor von Szurmay wearing the Red Cross Decoration   First Class with war decoration. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 12: General of Infantry Sandor von Szurmay wearing the Red Cross Decoration
First Class with war decoration. Image from the author’s archive.

I hope you enjoyed this discussion. Next time I will describe the Red Cross Decoration, first class

Rick

 

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