When the 1. World War more or less
changed into a static warfare -“Stellungskrieg” - the
production of medals and decorations took a different
course. Money and material became scarce. In Prussia,
like in other German small states, only medals in
silver gilt were manufactured from this point on. Gold
was too valuable a material and could be easily
replaced by silver. This fact surely met the needs of
the forgers. It explains the usually poor quality of
their falsifications easily by the influences of the
late war years, like: "That was normal in wartime..."
or "Money had to be saved...". Unfortunately they
forgot that one could probably save at the material,
stamps for medals and decorations nevertheless had to
be manufactured. The wages of gold or silver workers
were compared to the saving with the change from
golden to gild silver medals and decorations of rather
small influence for the actual expense.
Actually there were considerations
in the last war years to manufacture one-sided medal
characters (Saxony Kingdom) or medals in zinc with a
reduced number of work procedures, still stamps had to
be created, further by the typical high quality. I refer
here e.g. to the
Crown Order Medal last type.
As a further example I would like
to present a version of the Prussian Red Eagle Order.
Briefly anticipated, is said,
that the Prussian medals and decorations were
provided with fineness labels starting from the
change of material, which makes it easy for today’s
collector to separate the original decorations from
fakes. Following the tradition or rather the
fineness laws of the used "15 löthigen" silver, the
decorations manufactured in gilt silver material
were provided with the stamp of "938" - 938 sections
silver in thousand sections material or "15 Löth"
silver. (Falsifications carry mostly the stamp "935"
probably a read error, because the original marking
is very often strikes. It is advisable to use a
magnifying glass also here and check exactly.)
Let’s take a look now at the
Red Eagle Order 2. Class with crown and swords:
The Order has the "938"
marking at the lower cross arm and under the crown.
It also has the stamp "W" for the manufacturer of
medals Wagner in Berlin. Other makers marks, such as
"FR" for Friedländer, may be found instead of the
The material under the enamel
of the crown is guillochiert, which one can
determine very well by a magnifying glass, even with
the naked eye. Swords are one-piece coined and as
for Prussian medals typical screwed over a thread
into the sides of the medallion.
Although the order was made in
silver gilt it is made in an outstanding quality.
The following picture shows a
"938" mark besides the upside down "W" on a silver gilt
3rd class cross with swords of the Crown Order:
The 9 in the 938 mark looks usually like
© A. Schulze Ising, V/99