Red Cross Merit Medals Part II

Figure I: Red Cross Silver Honor Medal on Bow. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 1: Red Cross Silver Merit Medal on Bow. Image from the author’s archive.

Introduction:

As noted in Part I of the discussion of the Red Cross Merit Medal this decoration is particularly interesting in that it could be awarded for two entirely different reasons. Those decorations issued with the addition of the war decoration were issued for meritorious service, in time of war, not warranting the award of the Red Cross Decoration, second class.  Recipients were usually volunteer health workers, members of the Red Cross, or staff of the War Help Bureau.  This type of the award was a reward for actions in support of the humane efforts of the Red Cross.  On the other hand those decorations awarded without the war decoration were given to those who had made an annual financial donation to support the efforts of the Red Cross. In this second part of the discussion of these medals I will review the date issued, the classes and types of the award and interesting facts about the awards. I will then pick up where Part I ended and describe the case and envelops in which the awards were issued; the ribbon on which the awards were issued, the award miniatures and the award certificates.

Medal Numismatics:

Date Issued:  This decoration was created on August 22, 1914 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Convention in 1864.  The medals continued to be issued until 1923.

Classes or Types:  This award was issued in two classes

  • Red Cross Silver Merit Medal with and without war decoration
  • Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with and without war decoration

Interesting Facts:

  • The medal was a part of a range of five decorations to honor service and support of the Red Cross. The awards are: The Service Star of the Red Cross, The Red Cross Decoration, first class, The Red Cross Officers Cross, The Red Cross Decoration, second class (see previous Red Cross decoration blog for a description of these awards), The Red Cross Merit Medal in silver and the Red Cross Merit Medal Bronze.
  • The awards without war decoration were given to recognize a donation to the Red Cross in support of the war effort
    • Red Cross Silver Merit Medal donation = 300 crowns or 100 Krona for three years
    • Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal donation = 100 krona or 10 Krona a year
  • Emperor Franz Joseph was the Proprietor of the Red Cross and thus of the decorations and medals
  • The requirement for a donation to receive the awards without war decoration could be waived or suspended by the emperor
  • Applications for the Red Cross medals were to be submitted to the Red Cross Honor Medal Department of the Red Cross
  • Silver medals with war decoration were commonly granted to nurses, care givers, those serving in the volunteer medical service and soldiers for rescue work.
  • Medals were granted posthumously

Case: Cases are white cardboard and come in two shapes: Rectangular for awards on tri-fold ribbons and square for the awards on bows.

  • The case for awards on tri-fold ribbons is a rectangular white box with a red cross and gold or silver inscription on the top. The inscription reads PATRIA / AC / HUMANITATI / 1864-1914 or PATRIA / AC / HUMANITATI / 1864-1914/K.D for awards issued with the war decoration. The interior of the box is fitted. The top liner is in white satin or white cardboard and often has the makers’ logo. The interior bottom is white fitted plush or white cardboard. The outside of the bottom of the box may have the makers name and address in ink (Figure 2-5).
Figure 2: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal on Tri-fold ribbon box, exterior. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 2: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal on Tri-fold ribbon box, exterior. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 3: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal on Tri-fold ribbon box, interior. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 3: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal on Tri-fold ribbon box, interior. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 4: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on Tri-fold ribbon box, exterior. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 4: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on Tri-fold ribbon box, exterior. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 5: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on Tri-fold ribbon box, interior. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 5: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on Tri-fold ribbon box, interior. Image from the author’s archive.

  • The box for awards issued on a bow is square and white with a red cross and gold or silver inscription on the top. The inscription reads PATRIA / AC / HUMANITATI / 1864-1914 or PATRIA / AC / HUMANITATI / 1864-1914/K.D for awards issued with the war decoration.  The interior of the box is fitted. The top liner is in white satin with the maker’s name in gold letters and the bottom is white fitted plush. The bottom of the box may have the makers name and address in ink Figure 6 and 7).
Figure 7: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on bow box, exterior. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 6: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on bow box, exterior. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 8: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on bow box, interior. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 7: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on bow box, interior. Image from the author’s archive.

  • Award envelops: A white paper envelope with an inscription on the front. The inscription reads PATRIA / AC / HUMANITATI / 1864-1914 or PATRIA / AC / HUMANITATI / 1864-1914/K.D for awards issued with the war decoration.  These envelopes were used to issue official awards of the Red Cross Merit Medals, The inscription will vary slightly with regard to whether the medal is with or without war decoration (Figure 8&9).
Figure 8: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on tri-fold ribbon envelope. Image from the author's

Figure 8: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal on tri-fold ribbon envelope. Image from the author’s archive

Figure 9: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on tri-fold ribbon envelope. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 9: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal with war decoration on tri-fold ribbon envelope. Image from the author’s archive.

Ribbon:  The basic ribbon design is white with two red side stripes. It was worn as a tri-fold ribbon by men and as a bow by women; it also was worn as a narrow bow by civilians. A small rectangular ribbon issued with small attachments to indicate specific awards was introduced in October 27, 1917 Figures 1, and 10-13.

 

 

Figure 10: Red Cross ribbon with war decoration attachment . Image from the author's archive

Figure 10: Red Cross ribbon with war decoration attachment. Image from the author’s archive

Figure 11: Red Cross ribbon . Image from the author's archive

Figure 11: Red Cross ribbon. Image from the author’s archive


Figure 12: Red Cross Silver Merit Medal wiht war decoration on tri-fold ribbon. Image from the author's archive

Figure 12: Red Cross Silver Merit Medal with war decoration on tri-fold ribbon. Image from the author’s archive

Figure 13: Red Cross Silver Honor Medal on Bow. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 1: Red Cross Silver Honor Medal on Bow. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 13: Bronze Red Cross Merit Medal on ribbon as worn on civilian dress. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 13: Gold plated Bronze Red Cross Merit Medal on ribbon as worn on civilian dress. Image from the author’s archive.

Attachments: None found on the medals. There is a war decoration attachment for the chest ribbon as noted above.

Miniature (Figures 14-16): Those for the silver medals exist in various sizes including 23 X 16 mm and 21 X 16 mm.  Silver miniatures have been noted which were hallmarked on the ring.  Hallmarks noted include:

  • The 1872-1922 900 fine silver hallmark
  • The letters VM in a rectangle, which is the mark of Vinc Mayor and sons
Figure 14: Miniature group of 3 including the Bronze Red Cross Merit Medal. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 14: Miniature group of 3 including the Bronze Red Cross Merit Medal. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 15: Miniature Silver Red Cross Merit Medal with war decoration. Image from the author's archive Figure 15: Miniature Silver Red Cross Merit Medal with war decoration miniature. Image from the author’s archive[/caption]
Figure 15: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal miniature. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 16: Red Cross Bronze Merit Medal miniature. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 16: Silver Red Cross Merit Medal, miniature on civil bow. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 17: Silver Red Cross Merit Medal, miniature on civil bow. Image from the author’s archive.

Red Cross medals can also be found in mounted groups of medals (Figure 18)

Figure 18: Mounted group of 8 awards with the Silver Red Cross Merit Medal with war decoration at the far right position. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 18: Mounted group of 8 awards with the Silver Red Cross Merit Medal with war decoration at the far right position. Image from the author’s archive.

Award certificates: Award certificates were provided to those who had been granted the Red Cross Merit Medals. (Figure 19)

Figure 19: Red Cross award document for the silver medal with war decoration. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 19: Red Cross award document for the silver medal with war decoration. Image from the author’s archive.

 

 

Figure 20: An Austrian Meister 1st Class wearing the Red Cross Silver Merit Medal . Image from the author's archive.

Figure 20: An Austrian Meister 1st Class wearing the Red Cross Silver Merit Medal . Image from the author’s archive.

Until next time
Rick

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