Figure 1: Gold Merit Cross with crown, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Introduction:

When Emperor Franz Joseph assumed the throne in Austria one of his earliest actions was to establish the merit crosses to be awarded to those who demonstrated proven devotion to the fatherland, many years of valuable service, or other significant services in support of the public welfare. This decoration replaced the Civil Merit Medal which had been introduced in 1848. This decoration was highly regarded and personally approved and presented by the emperor up until World War I.  In this blog I will describe the Gold Merit Cross with crown variations.

Decoration Numismatics continued from the Merit Cross, part I Blog:

Variations:

Figure 2: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type I, obverse. Image from the author’s collection.

Figure 3: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type I, reverse. Image from the author’s collection.

Gold Cross with crown:

  • Type I Gold Cross with crown, 1849-1875 obvers:  A Rupert type cross with wide flared enameled arms bordered in gold.  In the center of the cross is an applied, round medallion. The medallion has a raised frosted gold rim inside of which is a white enameled circle.  On this white enameled ring is inscribed VIRIBUS UNITIS (with united strength, the motto of Franz Joseph’s reign) the letters are in gold and are separated by gilt ovals.  At the top of the enameled circle is a pair of gold clasped hands (this represents the loyalty of the people. Inside this first enameled ring is a second raised frosted gilt border. Inside this inner ring are the initials FJ (Franz Joseph).  The monogram is made of gilt metal and is applied to the center medallion.  The upper arm of the cross is attached to a crown which is affixed to the cross by two banderoles of metal, which extend from the lower edge of the crown to the upper edge of the cross.  The crown is the imperial crown but is smaller in this type cross than in later versions.  The crown is very detailed. Through the orb at the top of the crown passes a ring for suspending the cross from a ribbon. These crosses were known to have been made by F. Braun and Alexander. Kittner.
  • Type I Gold Cross with crown, 1849-1875 reverse:  The reverse of the cross is red enameled with a gilt border.  The center medallion is gilt and has a granulated border around it. It has a raised gilt rim inside of which is a white enameled center medallion.  On the enamel is the date 1849 in gilt metal.  The date is applied to the cross. The reverse of the banderoles and the crown are similar to the obverse side and are very detailed.

Figure 4: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type II, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 5: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type II, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

  • Type II Gold Cross with crown, 1875-1914, obverse: The same as the Type I cross except they are slightly flatter and the enamel is darker than in the earlier crosses. Also the crown is larger.
  • Type II Gold Cross with crown, 1875-1914, reverse: The same as the Type I cross except they are slightly flatter and the enamel is darker than in the earlier crosses.  Also the crown is larger.

Figure 6: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type III, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 7: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type III, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

  • Type III Gold Cross with crown, 1875-1914, obverse: The same as the Type II cross except the center medallion is made in one piece and there are no applied or raised portions of the center medallion and the crown has a red enamel inner liner.
  • Type III Gold Cross with crown, 1875-1914, reverse:  The same as the Type II cross except the outer ring of the center medallion is filled with white enamel on which are gold laurel leaves and the date in gold is an integral part of the inner medallion and not applied.  These crosses were known to have been made by Rothe & Neffe.

Figure 8: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type IV, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 9: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type IV, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

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  • Type IV Gold Cross with crown, 1875-1918, obverse: The same as the Type III cross.
  • Type IV Gold Cross with crown, 1875-1918, reverse:  The same as the Type III cross except the outer ring of the center medallion has gold laurel leaves on a gold metal background  These crosses were known to have been made by Rothe & Neffe.

Figure 10: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type V, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

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Figure 11: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type V, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

 

 

  • Type V Gold Cross with crown, 1875-1914 obverse: The same as the Type II cross except the crown has a red enamel liner
  • Type V Gold Cross with crown, 1875-1914 reverse:  The same as the Type II cross except the crown has a red enamel liner.

Figure 10: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type VI, obverse. Image from the author’s archive.

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Figure 13: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type VI, reverse. Image from the author’s archve.

 

 

  • Type VI Gold Cross with crown, 1914-1918 obverse: The same as the Type V cross except the crown has points on the top sides. This cross is known to have been made by Wilhelm Kunz
  • Type VI Gold Cross with crown, 1914-1918 reverse:  The same as the Type V cross except the crown has points on the top sides

 

Figure 14: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type VII, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 15: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type VII, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

 

  • Type VII Gold Cross with crown, 1914-1918 obverse  The same as Type V
  • Type VII Gold Cross with crown, 1914-1918 Reverse the same as Type V except that the reverse center medallion has a white enameled ring just inside its margin.  In addition the center medallion is composed of a single piece. There is no raised rim and the date 1849 is not applied but rather a part of the center medallion. These crosses were by Heinrich Jauner and Karl Schwerdtner.
  • Type VIII Gold Cross with Crown, 1918. The same as the Types IV,VI,VII except silver gilt rather than gold.

Figure 14: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type IX, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 15: Gold Merit Cross with crown, Type IX, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

 

  • Type IX Gold Cross with crown obverse: The same as the Type II cross except the crown does not have the red enameled inner liner.
  • Type IX Gold Cross with crown, reverse:  The same as the Type VII cross except the crown does not have the red enameled inner liner.

Hope you enjoyed this blog. In part III of my discussion of the merit crosses I will describe some of the major variations of the Gold Merit Cross. Until next time I hope you find joy in our shared interest

Rick

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