Iron Cross 1870, II Class (half silver)
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The Iron Cross was a military decoration founded by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and it was awarded for acts of heroism, bravery and exemplary leadership, regardless of rank or status.
The Cross was primarily a military decoration, yet on numerous occasions it was awarded to civilians for services rendered to the military. The concept was originally conceived in 1806, and finally confirmed in mid February of 1813.
The design of the Cross was inspired by the Cross pattée, which was used as a symbol of the Teutonic Order, as well as the Prussian Army from 1871 to 1918.
The Order consisted of three grades, I Class Cross, II Class Cross and Grand Cross. The I and II Class are largely the same in size and composition. The Grand Cross was double the size of the former.
The I and II Class Crosses were worn on the left breast (II Class with a ribbon), and the Grand Cross was worn suspended from the neck. The II Class must be awarded prior to the I Class being awarded.
The Cross was first awarded in recognition of exemplary military and civil service during the Napoleonic Wars. These crosses, awarded between 1813-1815 are often referred to as Model I.
Model II of the Decoration was awarded during the Franco-Prussian War (1870). Jewellers, including Wagner & Sohn, were in charge of the silver setting. The Merit Cross for Women and Virgins was also established in 1871, however, there are still a small number of cases in which a woman was granted the II Class decoration. Non-Prussians (ex. Bavarians or Saxons, who were considered foreigners until 1871) received the same consideration. There are two examples of the 1870 Iron Cross being awarded to British citizens.
Model III of the Decoration was awarded during the First World War (1914), and subsequent versions were awarded during World War II and featured a swastika in the center of the obverse.
The Iron Cross1870, II Class is worn on a ribbon on the left breast. A total of 45,768 were awarded, including 4,084 crosses for non-combatants. During the French Campaign, roughly one in twenty soldiers received a II Class Cross.
Some versions of the II Class Cross have oak leaves and the jubilee number "25" attached to the suspension. These were added at the cost of the recipient and it is therefore difficult to incur how many awards were made.
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