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, silver with crown and silver merit Crosses were issued,.

Decoration Cases continued:

Gold Cross 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: F. J./ V 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, black or fawn fitted plush.  The case is fitted with the portion designed to hold the cross, raised.  There is no maker logo in the case.  The bottom of the case is white. This type case was known to be used by Johann Schwerdtner (fawn or white fitted bottom) and F. Braun (dark Fitted bottom)

Figure 1: Gold Merit Cross case, top, exterior with gold inscription. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 2: Gold Merit Cross case, bottom, interior. Image from the author’s archive.

  • 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 one line: V.K. The inside of the lid is white satin with a gold Maker logo.  The inside of the bottom of the case is white fitted plush.  The bottom of the case is simulated leather similar to the cover. This type case was used by Vinc Mayer & Sons and by Rothe.

Figure 3: Gold Merit Cross case, top, exterior with gold inscription . Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 4: Gold Merit Cross case, bottom, interior. Image from the author’s archive.

  • Type III:  The same as type I except that it has V.K. on the outer lid and 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. 

Figure 5: Gold Merit Cross case, top with embossed lines and gold inscription, exterior. Image from the author’s archive.

 

  • 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

Figure 6: Gold Merit Cross maroon case, top with embossed gold lines, exterior. Image from the author’s archive.

Silver Merit Cross with Crown Case : There are several variations of the cases for this award. Some examples are illustrated

  • Type I:  The outer lid is blue simulated leather and has an embossed line, which follow the contour of the box.  The outer lid is inscribed, in silver, V.K. m.d.k.  The inner lid is lined white silk and has the embossed Hapsburg arms in gilt.  The plush portion of the bottom of the case is fawn in color.  The bottom of the box often has the date of issue stamped on it in purple ink.  The box maker’s logo may also appear on the bottom of the box, for example ETUIS U. KASSETTENFABRIK JG. BERGMANN WIENN VII.  These cases have been seen with dates from 1915 – 1918. Cases of this type are known to have been used by the Schneider Brothers and by Rozett & Fischmeister, .
  • Type II:  The same as type I except that the outer lid is maroon and has two embossed lines, which follow the contour of the box.  The inner lid has a gilt embossed Rothe and Neffe logo.  The plush portion of the inner box is black.  The bottom of the box has is also black.
  • Type III:  A red simulated leather case with a silver V.K. / m.d.k. inscription on the lid .These cases are known to have been used by Heinrich Jauner and G.A. Scheid

Figure 7: Silver Merit Cross with crown case, top with embossed lines and silver inscription, exterior. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 8: Silver Merit Cross with crown case, bottom, interior. Image from the author’s archive.

  • Type IV:  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 has 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

Figure 9: Silver Merit Cross with crown, teal case, top with embossed lines and silver inscription, exterior. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 10: Silver Merit Cross with crown case, bottom, interior. Image from the author’s archive.

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

  • Type I:  The outer lid is blue-pebbled cloth and has two embossed lines, which follow the contour of the box.  The outer lid is inscribed, in silver, V.K.  The inner lid has the embossed Hapsburg arms in gilt. The plush portion of the inner box is all white. Cases of this type were used by Rothe.  
  • Type II:  The outer lid is blue-pebbled cloth and . The outer lid is inscribed, in silver, F.J./ V The inner lid has the embossed Hapsburg arms in gilt.  The plush portion of the inner box is all white. Cases of this type were used by F.Braun of Vienna.

Figure 11: Silver Merit Cross case, top with silver inscription, exterior. Image from the author’s archive.

Hope you enjoyed this blog. In part VIII of my discussion of the merit crosses I will describe the ribbon, attachments, miniatures and award documents associated with the merit crosses. Until next time I hope you find joy in our shared interest

Rick

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