House Order of Saxe-Ernestine, Type II, Civil Division, Collar
Image courtesy of Ludwig. J. Trost, "Die Ritter- und Verdienst-Orden, Ehrenzeichen und Medaillen aller Souveräne und Staaten"
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A collar made of three different symbols repeated nine times, and a centrepiece used for suspension, all connected via small eyelets and chain links, constructed of silver gilt and enamel. The collar symbols are the following: six crowns, 14 lions, seven monograms. The crowns feature red enamel lining. Each crown is flanked by a crowned lion on each side, raising a paw towards the centre crown. The lions are mirrored. The monograms are made up of a white enamelled Latin cross with broad golden edges with a green enamelled letter ‘E’ (one mirrored) leaning against the cross’ vertical bar. The suspension piece is in the form of the Saxon coat of arms, in gold and black enamel with a green diagonal rue wreath, with a loop to hang the grand cross decoration from.
The House Order of Saxe-Ernestine was jointly founded by Duke Ernst I of Coburg-Gotha, Duke Friedrich of Altenburg, and Duke Bernhard Erich Freund of Saxony-Meiningen.
This order originally consisted of the grades of Grand Cross with Grand Cross Breast Star, I Class Commander Cross with I Class Commander Breast Star, II Class Commander Cross, Knight Cross, and Silver Merit Cross.
It was awarded to members of the aforementioned families, civil servants, citizens of Coburg-Gotha, Altenburg, and Meiningen, and foreign citizens to recognise valuable and loyal services.
To be officially conferred upon a foreigner, the award had to have been supported by at least two duchies.
The awards conferred upon citizens of the three founding duchies feature an oak wreath surrounding the centre medallion, while the awards conferred upon foreigners do not.
Additionally, the order awards were decorated with a letter on the obverse of the upper cross arm that was associated with the awarding Duchy.
The order awards from Altenburg feature the letter "F" on the obverse.
The order awards from Saxony-Meiningen feature the letter "B" on the obverse.
The order awards from Coburg-Gotha feature the letter "E" on the obverse.
In 1850, the order was amended to allow crossed swords, through the centre of the cross or on the surmounting ring, to be added to the awards conferred to recognise wartime merits.
The Type II order awards underwent multiple changes. From 1864 onward, the awards no longer featured an obverse letter associated with a Duchy, the awards conferred upon native citizens and foreigners both featured an oak wreath surrounding the centre medallion, and a Gold Medal grade was added to the order.
The awards conferred for exceptional merit during World War I had dates added to the obverse, including "1914", "1914 1915", and "1914 1916".
In 1890, the Knight Class was divided into two separate classes, I Class Knight and II Class Knight. The II Class Knight was abolished later in 1913.
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