Figure 1: South Sea Commemorative Medal of the Ram-Cruiser Empress Elisabeth 1892/93 obverse. Image form the author’s archive

Introduction: The South Sea Commemorative Medal of the Ram-Cruiser Empress Elisabeth 1892/93 (Seereise-denkmünze des Rammkreuzer Kaiserin Elisabeth 1892/93) was issued in 1893 to the participants in the voyage to the East Indies, China, Japan, Australia and the South Sea islands of the Ram-Cruiser Empress Elisabeth which took place under the command of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand de Este.

Date Issued: December 22, 1893

Reason Issued: Given to the participants on 1892-1893 cruse of the Torpedo Ram-Cruiser Kaiserine Elisabeth under the command of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne: Archduke Franz Ferdinand de Este to commemorate their participation in this voyage. This voyage was to the East Indies, China, Japan, Australia and the South Sea islands

Classes or Types: One

Interesting Facts:

· The medal was issued to all personnel serving on the Torpedo Ram Cruiser Kaiserin Elisabeth during the 1892-93 cruise including the archduke’s staff and companions

· The Torpedo Ram Cruiser Empress Elisabeth was launched on September 25, 1890 and was thus a new addition to the Austro Hungarian Navy at the time of the voyage

· The Kaiserin Elisabeth had a crew of 424 sailors and 19 officers

· The ribbon on which this medal was issued is in the colors of the house of Austria-Este

· The inscription on the medal is unusual in that it reads counter-clock wise

Hallmarks: None known

Figure 2: South Sea Commemorative Medal of the Ram-Cruiser Empress Elisabeth 1892/93 obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Design: A round medal with a raised rim and an attached wedge shaped eye

Obverse: In the center of the medal is an anchor over which is a two headed imperial eagle with outstretched wings and a coat of arms on its breast. The eagle has an Archduke’s crown and a star above it. Around the anchor is a wreath composed of tropical fronds. Around the circumference of the medal within a raised rim is inscribed, from left to right, REISE S. M.SCHIFF KAISERIN ELISABETH. Translation: Voyage of his majesty’s ship Empress Elisabeth.

Figure 3: South Sea Commemorative Medal of the Ram-Cruiser Empress Elisabeth 1892/93 reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Reverse:  Within a wreath composed of palm fronds tied together at the bottom with a bow is a six line inscription: OST-INDIEN/AUSTRAALIEN/SUDSEE-INSELN/CHINA/JAPAN/1892-1893. Translation: East Indies/ South Sea Islands/ China-Japan/1892-1893. Above the fronds at the top of the medal is the stylized monogram FF with the second F in mirror image (Franz Ferdinand)

Weight: 19 grams

Size:  36-37 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick

Type of Material: Gilded cannon bronze

Variations: 

· Type I = As described above

· Type II. A medal produced by the House of Este. It is the same as above except that it in silver and has a wedge shaped eye

Figure 4: South Sea Commemorative Medal of the Ram-Cruiser Empress Elisabeth 1892/93 Type II obverse. Image form the author’s archive

Designer: Unknown

Manufacturer: The Vienna Hauptmunzamt (Mint)

Number Issued:  472 of which 442 were issued to crew members, 15 to officers including warrant officers and 15 to the Archduke and his personal staff. Other sources indicate that 457 or 473 of these medals were issued.

Two known recipients are:

  • Archduke Franz Ferdinand
  • Linienschiffskapitan Alois Ritter von Becker, the ships commanding officer

Case: Unknown

Figure 5: South Sea Commemorative Medal of the Ram-Cruiser Empress Elisabeth 1892/93 ribbon. Image form the author’s archive

Ribbon: A 40 mm wide white ribbon with a 20 mm wide dark blue laddered pattern in the center which has a 6 mm wide dark blue strip at each end and a 3.5 mm wide white edge strip. These are the colors of the House of Austria-Este of which Franz Ferdinand was the head.

Attachments: None

Figure 6: South Sea Commemorative Medal of the Ram-Cruiser Empress Elisabeth 1892/93 miniature. Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Miniature: Miniatures of this medal are known to exist

 

Figure 7: Franz Ferdinand wearing the Sea Voyage Medal. Image form the author’s archive 

 

Figure 8: The Torpedo Ram Cruiser Kaiserine Elizabeth. Image form the author’s archive

 

Hope you enjoyed this blog. Until next time, I hope you find joy in our shared interest.

Rick

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