Heinrich Simon Eduard von Valenti was born on October 4, 1818 at Eulenberg bei Neu-Stettin. On August 18, 1836 he was commissioned as a Seconde-Lieutenant in the 14th Infantry Regiment.
In the image above, the obverse of von Valentini’s 1870 Iron Cross 1st Class, and of his Iron Cross 2nd Class can be seen. Below these awards is a pin-backed miniature clasp for civilian wear featuring a Prussian Service Award for Officers (25 Year Service Cross), an 1870 Iron Cross, and a Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg Military Merit Cross 2nd Class.
With only 1,903 awards, the Prussian 1870 Iron Cross 1st Class was rather scarcely-awarded and therefore prestigious. This example which belonged to von Valentini was one type of standard award-piece made by “I. WAGNER & S.” (House Jeweler Johann Wagner und Sohn of Berlin). The marking “14 LÖTE” indicates that the frame and backing plate of the piece were made from 14/16 silver or 875/1000 silver.2
In the above photo von Valentini can be seen wearing his large medal bar. In the first position is his Prussian 1870 Iron Cross 2nd Class, followed by the Prussian Red Eagle Order 3rd Class with Bow and Swords- on-the-Ring (difficult to see), the Prussian Red Eagle Order 4th Class with Swords, the Prussian Service Award for Officers (25 Year Service Cross), the German Empire 1870/71 Campaign Medal, the Prussian Königgrätz Cross, the Prussian Hohenzollern Commemorative Medal (1848/49), and the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg Military Merit Cross 2nd Class. He is also wearing his Prussian 1870 Iron Cross 1st Class below his large medal bar.
On March 15, 1874 von Valentini was pensioned and was awarded the Prussian Red Eagle Order 2nd Class with Oak Leaves and Swords-on-the-Ring. The document above states that he was awarded the “Roter Adler Orden 2. Kl. mit der Schleife und Schw. am Ringe” (Red Eagle Order 2nd Class with the Bow and Swords-on-the-Ring), however, this notation is believed to be in error. In the later photo below, von Valentini can be seen wearing his Red Eagle Order 2nd Class with Oak Leaves and with Swords-on-the-Ring. It is interesting to note that in this photograph, the Red Eagle Order 3rd Class with Bow and Swords-on-the-Ring has been removed from the large medal bar. Von Valentini did not have the group of awards re-mounted, but left a gap where the award was removed. The Red Eagle Order 3rd Class with Bow and Swords-on-the-Ring had to be returned to the Prussian Order’s Chancellery upon the award of the Red Eagle Order 2nd Class with Oak Leaves and Swords-on-the-Ring per statute. This thus explains the “missing” award in this later photo.
On December 9, 1890, retired General-Major Eduard von Valentini died thus ending the long and eventful life of this brave Prussian Officer. Upon his death, his Orders were probably returned to the Prussian Order’s Chancellery per statute, which could explain why they are not now with his other awards. After his death, his family had the option of purchasing and retaining his Orders, but this was an expensive option, and therefore many families did not do so.
Thank you for your interest regarding this article. I wish to thank Andreas Schulze-Ising of Pittsburgh, PA, USA, for his assistance in the preparation of this article (especially his patience in explaining the rather intricate regulations concerning the Prussian Red Eagle Order so that it all made sense to me). Comments are welcome.
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