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 some of the variations in the cases in which the Gold Merit Crosses with crown were issued,.

Decoration Cases:

Gold Cross with Crown Case: There are many variations of the cases for this award. Some examples are illustrated below.

  • Type I:  A dark blue fabric over cardboard case, which is 2 inches wide and 4 inches long.  The fabric has a pebbled finish.  On the outer lid is the following gilt inscription in two lines: D.K/ m.d.k.  The inside of the lid is white satin with a gold imperial coat of arms.  The inside of the bottom of the case is white fitted plush.  The case is fitted with the portion designed to hold the cross being raised.  There is no maker logo in the case.  This type case was used by Johann Schwerdtner, Rothe and Karl. Bohm

 

  • Type II:  A dark blue fabric over cardboard case, which is 2 inches wide and 4 inches long.  The fabric has a pebbled finish.  On the outer lid is the following gilt inscription in two lines: D.K/ m.d.k The inside of the lid is white satin with a gold makers logo.  The inside of the bottom of the case is dark blue (black) fitted plush. This type case was used by Vinc Mayer & Sons

 

  • Type III:  The same as type I except that the outer lid has two embossed lines which follow the contour of the box.  The inner lid has a gilt embossed Hapsburg arms.  The plush portion of the inner box is all white.  The bottom of the box has stamped on it in purple ink the date and the word bronze in a rectangle. The box maker’s logo also appears on the lower edge of the box, ETUIS U. KASSETTENFABRIK JG. BERGMANN WIENN VII. These cases have been seen with dates from 1915 – 1918

 

  • Type IV:  A maroon leather case with a fine gilt line along the top edge of the case. The inner portion is white with the top having the logo of Heinrich Jauner. The bottom interior is fitted for the decoration.

Note: During the WWI era some cases for all versions of this decoration were made by J.G. Bergmann

 

  • Type V:  A teal blue fabric over cardboard case, which is 2 inches wide and 4 inches long.  The fabric has a simulated leather finish.  On the outer lid is the following gilt inscription in two lines: V.K / m.d.k. The inside of the lid is white satin with a gold imperial coat of arms.  The inside of the bottom of the case is white fitted plush.  There is no maker logo in the case.  This type case was used by A. Bachruch of Budapest

 

  • Type VI:  A dark blue leather case, which is 2 inches wide and 4 inches long.  On the outer lid is the following gilt inscription in two lines: D.K / m.d.k. The inside of the lid is white satin with a gold imperial coat of arms.   This type case was used by Schwerdtner of Vienna

 

  • Type VII:  A maroon fabric over cardboard case, which is 2 inches wide and 4 inches long.  The fabric has a pebbled finish.  On the outer lid is the following gilt inscription in two lines: V.K/ m.d.k The inside of the lid is white satin with a gold imperial coat of arms.  The inside of the bottom of the case is white fitted plush.  The case is fitted with the portion designed to hold the cross being raised.  There is no maker logo in the case.

 

  • Type VIII:  A red fabric over cardboard simulated leather case.  The fabric has a pebbled finish.  On the outer lid is the following type of gilt inscription such as the following in two lines: Zur Erinnerung an gemeinsame Arbeit 1915/16 k.u.k. Milit. Vgs. Verwalter S. Lieblein. The inside of the lid is white satin and bears the Rothe makers logo in gilt. This is a presentation case and is of a higher quality than the normal cases in which this award was issued

 

Figure 1: Type III case, exterior. Image from the authors archive.

Figure 2: Type I, III, VI, and VII case,fitted bottom interior. Image from the authors archive.

 

Figure 3: Type II case,fitted bottom interior. Image from the authors archive.

Figure 4: Type IV case, exterior. Image from the authors archive.

 

Figure 5: Type V case, exterior. Image from the authors archive.

Figure 6: Type VI case, exterior. Image from the authors archive.

 

Figure 7: Type VII case, exterior. Image from the authors archive.

Figure 8: Type VIII case, exterior. Image from the authors archive.

 

Hope you enjoyed this blog. In part VII of my discussion of the merit crosses I will describe the wide variation in the cases in which the remaining merit crosses were issued. Until next time I hope you find joy in our shared interest

Rick

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