Figure 1: Gold Merit Cross, 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 variations.

Decoration Numismatics continued from the Merit Cross blog Part II:

Variations: Gold Cross:

Figure 2: Gold Merit Cross, Type I, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 3: Type I Gold Merit Cross, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

 

  • Type I Gold Cross, 1849-1918 obverse:  A 30 mm in diameter 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 border 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 has a ball shaped eye through which passes a ring for suspending the cross from a ribbon.
  • Type I Gold Cross, 1849-1918 reverse:  The reverse of the 30 mm in diameter 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 round medallion.  On the enamel medallion is the date 1849 in gilt metal.  The date is applied to the cross. The upper arm of the cross has a ball shaped eye through which passes a ring for suspending the cross from a ribbon.
  • Type II Gold Cross, 1914-1918 obverse: The same as the Type I cross except it is 36 mm in diameter
  • Type II Gold Cross, 1914-1918 Reverse: The same as the Type I cross except it is 36 mm in diameter

Figure 4: Type III Gold Merit Cross, reverse. Image from the author’s archive.

  • Type III Gold Cross, 1914-1918 Obverse: The same as the Type II cross
  • Type III Gold Cross, 1914-1918 reverse: The same as the Type II cross except the reverse center medallion is a single piece which has a white enameled ring just inside its margin.  There is no raised rim on the reverse center medallion and the date1849 is not applied but rather an integral part of the center medallion. These crosses are believed to have been made by Heinrich Ulbrichts Witwe.
  • Type IV Gold Cross, 1914-1918:The same as the Type III cross except is it 30 mm in diameter

Figure 5: Gold Merit Cross, Type V obverse. Image from the author’s archive

Figure 5: Gold Merit Cross, Type V reverse. Image from the author’s archive

  • Type V Gold Cross, Obverse, 1918: The same as the Type I, except that the obverse center medallion is integral to the cross and elements of the center medallion are part of its composition and are not attached or raised.
  • Type V Gold Cross, Reverse, 1918. The same as the Type I, except that the inner portion of the reverse center medallion is integral to the cross and its elements are not attached or raised.
  • Type VI Gold Cross, Obverse, 1918. The same as the Type II except that the obverse center medallion is integral to the cross and elements of the center medallion are part of its composition and not attached or raised.
  • Type VI Gold Cross, Reverse, 1918. The same as the Type II, except that the inner portion of the reverse center medallion is integral to the cross and its elements are not attached or raised.

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

Rick

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