Order of Merit, Type I, Military Division, Grand Cross
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The Order of Merit was founded by King Friedrich August after his release from imprisonment in 1815. The Order was conferred upon citizens of Saxony, and foreign citizens, in recognition of merit and virtue within distinguished civil services. The allowance of foreigners to the order was unofficially added in 1828, and was accompanied by a specific inscription.
At the conception, the order consisted of a Grand Cross, Commander and Knight. A civil medal was indirectly counted as the 4th class. The council for the order consisted of four committees and one order secretary, all of whom were appointed by the King. It was the Order Council who proposed new members.
The Order was originally called the "Order of Civil Merit", but the name was changed in 1849 to the "Order of Merit". On June 7, 1849, the commander was divided into two classes. The I Class Commander is worn with a four point breast star, increasing the total number of classes to five. Shortly after, in 1858, the small cross was renamed the “Cross of Honour”.
In 1866, the Order grades were also awarded with crossed swords to recognize recipients for military merit and service. On December 9, 1870, King Johann also noted “if the order of merit for those acquired in the field merit and as a military award is awarded to persons who already have the same order and same class without war decoration, the swords are on the order crosses under the ring. When awarding a higher order classes for drawing in peacetime to lower class holders of the Order of Merit with war decoration are the swords retained and on the subject order decorations in the manner indicative above carried.”
In 1876, the statutes were amended once again. The Knight’s Cross was split into the first class and second class knight. Owners of the Cross of honour could exchange their decoration for the second class knight. The Cross of Merit was introduced as the 6th class of the order, and could also be awarded with swords. The owners of the golden mert medal could exchange for a cross of merit at this time.
In MedalBook, Type I decorations are identified by the features stated above. They do not have a surmounting crown, and the central medallions are painted.
Type II decorations are identified as those awarded from 1891 until 1918. In 1891, the order saw the addition of the royal golden crown to the grand cross and the commander. The latter decoration was further split into the first and second class as well. Medallions are also applied instead of painted.
In 1905, the china expedition gave cause to the conferral of more decorations. While the statutes prescribed the order be awarded with swords, however in the majority of cases, the higher decoration without swords was awarded. Examples of swords on the ring are quite uncommon.
The obverse presents the name and title of the founder and the date of creation “Friedrich August K.(Onig) V. (on) Saxony D. 7 June 1815” and the reverse inscription translates to “For Merit and Loyalty” for nationals..
In March 1910, the jeweller G.A Scharffenberg was commissioned to make simplified versions of the decorations, to lower the overall price. This includes gold plating and one-piece embossed medallions. The following month, the King accepted the altered manufacturing method, which consisted of the middle shield being made of one piece for all classes. Decorations prior to 1911 that are marked S, refer to silver, not Scharffenberg.
For residents, the inscription translates to “FOR LOYALTY AND MERIT” while decorations to foreigners states “FOR MERIT”.
The Grand Cross is the same size as the Commander Cross. The Grand Cross with Swords was awarded 3 times. One in 1870 to Prussian General Leutenant Theophl von Podbielski, one in 1871 to Prussian General Leutenant Albrecht von Stosch and one in 1875 to Prussian Field Master Prince Carle von Preussen.
Obv: FRIED. AUG. KV. SACHSEN D. 7. JUN. 1815 Rev: FUR VERDIENST UND TREUE
Type I awards did not have a crown.
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