In 1785 Emperor Joseph II established the Merit Medal for Royal and Imperial Military Doctors and Regimental Surgeons (Verdienstmedaille für K.K. Militärarzte und Regimentschirurgen). This was the first medal in Austrian history to be established specifically as an award to the physicians and surgeons who provided medical services to the armed forces of the Austrian empire.
Date Issued: 1785-1790
Reason Issued: As a reward for meritorious service by military physicians and regimental surgeons. The award was created on the occasion of the founding of the Emperor Joseph Medical Academy in Vienna in 1785.
Classes or Types: Three
- Large Silver Physicians and Surgeons Medal
- Silver Physicians and Surgeons Medal
- Small Silver Physicians and Surgeons Medal
Interesting Facts: The eyes on the medals vary with the large silver medal having a large flat eye (Figure 2); the silver medal having a fleur-de-lis shaped eye (Figure 1) and the small medal a wedge shaped eye (Figure 4).
Hallmarks: None Known
Design: A round medal with a raised rim and an attached suspension eye at the top.
Obverse: A youthful bare shouldered bust of Joseph II, facing to the right. He is depicted with long flowing hair in which is a laurel wreath. Paralleling the rim around the upper half of the medal is the inscription: IOSEPHVS II. AVGVSTVS (Joseph II Emperor). Near the lower edge of the medal is the signature of the medalist: J. N. Wurt F. (The F stands for Fabrikat: fabricated) for the large silver medal and silver medal (Figure 1 and 2) and DONNER for the small silver medal.
- Large Silver and Silver Medal: The reverse of the medal is plain except for an inscription which reads in five lines: BENE MERENTIBVS/DE/ARTE MEDICO CHIRVR/GICA/PRAEMIVM, (Awarded for Outstanding Service in the Medical and Surgical Arts). (Figure 3)
- Small Silver Medal: The reverse of the medal is plain except for an inscription which reads in four lines: ACADEMIA /MEDICO/ CHIRVRGICA /MILITARIS (Medial Surgical Military Academy). (Figure 4)
- Large Silver Medal = 113 grams
- Silver Medal = 45 grams
- Small Silver Medal = 14 grams
- Large Silver Medal = 51 mm in diameter and 5 mm thick
- Silver Medal = 43 mm in diameter
- Small Silver Medal = 35 mm in diameter
Type of Material: Silver
- Type I Large Silver medal as described above
- Type II Large Silver medal as described above but the reverse inscription is in six lines as follows: BENE MERENTIBVS/DE ARTE.MED.CHIRVRG/PROEMIVM INSTITVIT./FR.ANTON.BRENDEL./CHIRVRG.MILIT. (Figure 5)
- Large silver and Silver Medal: Johann Nepomuk Wirth
- Small Silver Meal: Ignaz Donner
Number Issued: Unknown
Ribbon: A 43 mm wide lemon yellow ribbon with 10 mm wide black edge stripes
Miniature: None know
An interesting award from a time when medicine was just becoming a factor in lives and deaths of the Austrian soldier.
I look forward to our next correspondence.