Figure 1: 1810-1839 Gold Bravery Medal, obverse:. Image from the author’s archive.


In this blog I am going to discuss the 1810-1839 Bravery Medal (Tapferkeitsmedaille). These were the seventh and eighth medals issued by the Austrian Empire specifically as a bravery medal and the first to be called Bravery Medal. In this and subsequent blogs I am going to take the reader through the evolution of the bravery medals from the first one issued in 1789-1791 by the authority of Emperor Joseph II (see previous blogs) to the last of this type of medal issued in 1917-1922 by Emperor Karl I.

Decoration Numismatics:

Date Issued:  1810 – 1839

Reason Issued:  As a reward for bravery for enlisted personnel while in combat with an armed enemy

Classes or Types:  Two

  • Gold Bravery Medal
  • Silver Bravery Medal

Interesting Facts:

  • Issued for bravery in combat in Russia in 1812
  • Issued for bravery in combat in France in 1813 and 1814
  • Issued for bravery in combat in Italy in 1815
  • Recipients could not wear multiple awards but only the highest award received. Thus gold medal winners who had also won the silver medal were only allowed to wear the gold medal.
  • This medal was referred to by Austrians as the soldiers Maria Theresia Order
  • From 1789 to 1918 there were 30 different versions of the bravery medal. This is version 6 and 7
  • Until 1916 with the introduction of the Karl Troop Cross this was the most commonly awarded decoration to Armed forces personnel
  • The name of this award was changed From Honor Medal to Bravery Medal in 1810

Hallmarks:  None Known

Design:  A round medal with a coined flat oval suspension eye.

Figure 2: 1810-1839 Silver Bravery Medal, obverse:. Image from the author’s archive.

Obverse (Figures 1 and 2): Inside a raised rim is the bust of Emperor Franz II with long flowing hair facing to the viewers right, with a laurel wreath on his head. Around the bust is inscribed: FRANZ KAISER VON OESTERREICH. Below the bust is inscribed I N Wirt F. (the F is not part of the signature of the medalist but rather stands for fabrikat or in English fabricated)

Figure 3: 1810-1839 Silver Bravery Medal, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum.

Reverse (Figure 3): The reverse of the medal has four crossed flags and two crossed standards at the bottom.  The two front flags can be seen through the leaves of the laurel wreath and appear to have the Austrian Coat of Arms (the barred shield), with an archdukes hat above it, the latter is also recognizable on the standard over which is superimposed a laurel wreath which is tied at the bottom with a bow. Within the wreath and above the flags are the words DER TAPFERKEIT (for bravery)


  • Gold Medal = 8 Ducats (28 grams)
  • Silver Medal = 17 grams

Size:  40 mm for both medals

Type of Material:  986/1000 Gold and Silver

Variations:  None known

Designer: Johann Nepomuck Wirt

Manufacturer: Hauptmunzamt Wien (Imperial Mint Vienna)

Number Issued:  Unknown

Case:  Unknown

Figure 4: The War Ribbon on which all awards were awarded. Image from the author’s archive.

Ribbon Figure 4): a 40 mm wide red and white laddered ribbon.

Figure 5: A gold attachment clasp as found on the gold Bravery Medal. Image from the author’s archive.

Attachments Figures 5 and 6):  A clasp shaped like an H which has been laid on its side. In the center of the H is a round raised image of Emperor Franz I with long flowing hear and a laurel wreath on his head facing to the viewers right. These bars were unofficial and were worn based on the personal preference of the recipient. They were often worn on a ribbon in the button hole instead of the full size decoration. The wearing of these clasps on ribbons without the accompanying medals was prohibited after 1811. After that time they could be worn only on the decoration ribbon. In some instances the fashion was to wear the medal reverse side forward since the bar on the ribbon depicted the obverse of the decoration.

Figure 6: A gold and silver attachment clasp. Image attributed to Vaclav Mericka, Orden Und Ehrenzeichen, Anton Schroll & Co.

Miniature:  Miniatures of this medal could be worn after 1826.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. I look forward to sharing more information with you regarding the awards of the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian empire.


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