Figure 1: 1873 War Medal. Image from the author’s archive.


The war Medal (Kriegsmadaille) was issued from 1873 until 1916 as an award for all military personnel who took part in any of the Austrian military campaigns from 1848 until 1916.

Date Issued: December 2, 1873 to 1916

Reason Issued: This medal was issued on the 25th anniversary of the reign of the Emperor Franz Joseph I to commemorate and reward members of the armed forces without regard to status or rank who had served in selected units during the wars and campaigns that had occurred since Franz Joseph had assumed the throne in 1848. These events were the First Italian War of Independence 1848-1849, The suppression of the Hungarian Uprising 1848-1849, The Austro-Sardinian War (Second War of Italian Independence) 1859, campaigns in Schleswig and Jutland during the Second Schleswig War 1864, campaigns in Bohemia and South Germany during the Austro-Prussian War 1866, campaigns in the Tyrol during the Austro-Prussian War 1866, and the suppression of the insurrection in South Dalmatia in 1869. The medal was later issued for the campaigns in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878-1880 and 1882, the China expedition (Boxer Rebellion) in 1900-1901. On September 21, 1916 the medal was authorized to be reissued at the end of the war in white metal as a war medal for WWI service for those who had entered the field of battle before the death of the Emperor Franz Joseph I (September 21, 1916). The medal was never officially issued for World War I service.

Classes or Types: One

Interesting Facts:

This medal was issued to retired members of the armed forces who were otherwise eligible for the medal.

  • Recipients who lost their medals were required to replace them at their own expense
  • The medals were cast from the bronze of captured enemy cannon
  • The medal was issued as both a commemorative and a service medal
  • Medals were frequently gilded by their owners to improve their appearance
  • Conviction of a crime could not deprive an authorized person from receiving or keeping the award
  • Although authorized to be issued at the conclusion of World War I in white metal the award was never officially granted
  • In effect the Iron Merit Crosses replaced the 1873 War Medal when they were introduced in 1916
  • Recipients of the following medals were automatically eligible for the 1873 War Medal: Commemorative Medal for the Defense of Tyrol 1848 , Commemorative Medal for the 1864 Military Campaign against Denmark, Commemorative Medal for the Defense of Tyrol 1866 and the Prague Home Guard Medal 1866.
  • There is known to be one women who received this medal for services in the Boxer Rebellion. Her name was Paula von Rosethorn

Hallmarks: Some medals have been reported with the letters JZ (Josef Zimbler) or KM (Kreigs Metal on the edge.

Design: A round medal with a raised rim and an attached ball shaped eye

Figure 2: 1873 War Medal, obverse. Image from the author’s archive.

Obverse: Inside a raised rim is a bust of Emperor Franz Joseph I with a beard facing to the viewers right and wearing a laurel wreath in his hair.  Around the edge of the bust within two narrow lines 4mm for the edge of the medal is inscribed FRANZ. JOSEPH I. KAISER V.OESTERREICH KOENIG V.BOHMEN ETC. APOST. KOENIG V. UNGARN. Translation: Franz Joseph I Emperor of Austria King of Bohemia etc. Apostolic King of Hungary. Separating the inscription at the bottom is a small asterisk.

Figure 3: 1873 War Medal, reverse. Image from the author’s archive.

Reverse:  Inside a raised rim is a wreath composed of a bough of laurel on the viewers left and one of oak on the right, which is tied at the bottom with a bow. Inside the wreath is an inscription in three lines. The inscription reads 2./DECEMBER/ 1873. Translation: December 2, 1873.

Weight: 25 grams

Size:  36-37.5 mm in diameter and 3 mm thick

Type of Material: All government issued medals were composed of cannon bronze.

· Type I = Cannon bronze

· Type II = Cannon bronze

· Type III = Gold gilt bronze

· Type IV = Silver gilt bronze

· Type V = War metal


Hope you enjoyed this blog. Next time in Part II I will discuss the wide range of variations that appear in this medal.



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  1. Is there a museum or someplace that would want this medal? I believe it was my great grandfathers.

    • Judene

      This medal exists in sufficient quantity that so far as I am aware it is not in demand by museums. However, if this medal was awarded to your great grandfather, I would encourage you to consider it as I valuable family heirloom. If I were you, I would frame it with a plaque giving some of the historic information about your great grandfather and the medal itself. This display could then be passed down through your family as a treasured remembrance of your great grandfather and his service to his country.


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