Figure 1: Civil Merit Medal, obverse. Image from author’s archive.

Introduction:

When Emperor Franz Joseph assumed the throne in Austria one of his earliest acts was to establish the Civil Merit Medal to be awarded to those who performed outstanding civil service and or had made a special civil contribution to the empire. This decoration would quickly be superseded by the merit cross which was introduced in 1849. This decoration and the cross that would supersede it were highly regarded and in the case of the merit medal personally approved and presented by the emperor.

Decoration Numismatics:

Date Issued: December 2, 1848 to December 1, 1849

Reason Issued:  To reward outstanding civil service and or special civil contributions to the empire

Classes or Types:  This decoration was issued in two classes with three grades within each class:

  • Golden Civil Merit Medal, First class
  • Golden Civil Merit Medal, Second class
  • Golden Civil Merit Medal, Third class
  • Silver Civil Merit Medal, First class
  • Silver Civil Merit Medal, Second class
  • Silver Civil Merit Medal, Third class

Interesting Facts:

  • Bronze examples of this medal exist.  There is no known provision for such awards in the statutes.
  • The gold and silver medal III class were not officially named

Hallmarks: None known

Design: A round medal with a tailed ornamental eye.

Figure 1: Civil Merit Medal, obverse. Image from author’s archive.

Obverse: A bust of the young Emperor Franz Joseph I facing to the viewers left with a laurel wreath in his hair.  The medals are inscribed: FRANCISCVS IOSEPHVS I. D. G. AVSTIRIAE IMPERATOR. Below the bust of the emperor on the gold and silver medals I and II class is the designer’s name, F. Gaul (Frantz Gaul) or C. Radnitzky (Karl Radnitzky). Below the bust on the III class medals is the name of the medalist K. Lange (Konrad Lange).

Figure 2: Civil Merit Medal, reverse. Image from author’s archive.

Reverse: An oak leaf wreath which is open at the top and tied at the bottom with a bow. Above the wreath is inscribed: MERITIS.  Within the wreath is a space for engraving the recipient’s name.

Weight:  

  • Golden Civil Merit Medal, First class = 24 Ducats (83 grams)
  • Golden Civil Merit Medal, Second class = 12 Ducats (41.5 grams)
  • Golden Civil Merit Medal, Third class = 8 Ducats (27.5 grams)
  • Silver Civil Merit Medal, First class = 41 grams
  • Silver Civil Merit Medal, Second class = 38 grams
  • Silver Civil Merit Medal, Third class = 25 grams

 Size: 

  • Golden Civil Merit Medal, First class = 48-50 mm
  • Golden Civil Merit Medal, Second class = 39 mm
  • Golden Civil Merit Medal, Third class = 33 mm
  • Silver Civil Merit Medal, First class = 48-50 mm
  • Silver Civil Merit Medal, Second class = 39 mm
  • Silver Civil Merit Medal, Third class = 33 mm

Type of Material: Gold and Silver

Variations: None known

Designer:

  • Gold and silver medal I and II class: Franz. Gaul
  • Gold and silver medal I and II class: Carl. Radnitzky
  • Gold and silver medal III class: Konrad Lange

Manufacturer: Hauptmunzamt Wien (Imperial Mint, Vienna)

Number Issued: Unknown

Order of Precedent: Not included in the 1918 Order of Precedents listing

Case: Unknown

Figure 3: Civil Merit Medal, 1848 ribbon. Image from the author’s archive

Ribbon: 38 to 40 mm carmen-red ribbon worn as a straight ribbon

Attachments: None

Figure 4: Civil Merit Medal, miniature. Image from author’s archive.

Miniature: known to exist

  • Gold Medal, first class, 15 mm in diameter and 3.7 grams in weight

Hope you enjoyed this blog. Until next time I hope you find joy in our shared interest

Rick

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