Iron Cross II Class (by C. E. Juncker)

CATEGORY: Version

SKU: 01.GTR.0101.111.01.000

Estimated market value:

$100+ USD

  • Iron Cross II Class (by C. E. Juncker) Obverse
  • Iron Cross II Class (by C. E. Juncker) Reverse
  • Iron Cross II Class (by C. E. Juncker) Obverse
  • Iron Cross II Class (by C. E. Juncker) Reverse
  • Iron Cross II Class (by C. E. Juncker) Obverse
  • Iron Cross II Class (by C. E. Juncker) Detail

Estimated market value:

$100+ USD

Attributes

  • Country
    Germany
  • Makers
    C. E. Juncker, Berlin
  • Composition
    Iron
  • Inscription
    Obv: 1939 Rev: 1813
  • Size
    45x45mm

Physical Description and Item Details


A fine example of an “Eisernes Kreuz 1939 2. Klasse”; a cross pattée of multi-piece construction with a blackened iron core (magnetic) within a ribbed border; on loop for suspension - marked “4” for “C. E Juncker of Berlin”; with its mint and unissed period original ribbon; the obverse with a raised central mobile swastika with the re-institution date “1939” in raised numbering on the lower arm; the reverse with the original institution date “1813” in raised numbering on the lower arm; measuring 44.36 mm (w) x 43.96 mm (h); weighing 19.6 grams; a very light paint chip on the bottom left arm of the swastika, and with light patina on the cross; in overall mint and unissued condition.

History


The Iron Cross was originally founded in 1813 and was considered Germany’s highest military decoration. On September 1st, 1939, Adolf Hitler renewed the Order of the Iron Cross and instituted the decoration in four grades, II Class Iron Cross, I Class Iron Cross, Knight’s Cross and Grand Cross.

The II Class Iron Cross was conferred upon military personnel who performed a single act of bravery in the face of the enemy or acted in a way that went above and beyond the call of duty. The II Class was the most commonly awarded Iron Cross during the Second World War, and today, it is the most commonly found and the least expensive of the Iron Cross grades.

This grade was suspended from a ribbon and it could be worn in three different ways: attached to the second button of the tunic; mounted alone or as part of a ribbon bar when worn with formal attire; or the ribbon could be worn by itself for everyday wear.

The II Class was manufactured in two different ways. Initially, the 1939 II Cross was produced using the same method that was utilised during the First World War. Two frames were stamped into thin sheets of silver using a blanking die, which left the centre of the crosses and the area between each cross arms intact. The excess material around the frames was then cropped using a finishing die. An eyelet was then soldered to the top cross arm of each frame, which temporarily held them together. The black iron core was placed between the two frames and the rims were soldered together.

In 1942, a new manufacturing process that is known as the “Gablonzer Press” was introduced. A piece of metal wire was wrapped around a pattern that resembled the outline of an Iron Cross and was then struck into the pattern of a frame using extreme force. An eyelet and ring were then soldered to the top of the frame. The iron core and a piece of tin solder were placed between two of these frames. The frames were squeezed around the core and held in place with four steel clamps, one for each cross arm. A paste called Flux was then painted onto the frames, and a gas torch was used to heat and liquefy the solder. The edges of the frame were then sanded down to create a seamless appearance. The final step of the process was to silver the frame and paint a clear lacquer over the enamelled core. Once perfected, this manufacturing process held the core and frames tightly together. These techniques were also used to produce the I Class and the Knight’s Cross.

Not every II Class Cross features a maker’s mark, although, if there is one present it will be stamped on the ribbon ring. Each firm was allocated a manufacturing number to indicate which decorations they produced. Firms that were licensed to produce official state awards were issued Lieferant Numbers by the Präsidialkanzlei des Führers. Some firms were licensed to produce private-purchase replacement awards and were issued LDO (Leistungsgemeinschaft Deutscher Ordenshersteller) numbers. LDO pieces were stamped with a maker’s code that had an ‘L’ prefix, with or without a slash (ex: L or L/), while Präsidialkanzlei items were stamped with numbers without an ‘L’ prefix. As such, one firm would often have two different numbers to mark their products with.

The standard size of the II Class is 44.5 x 44.5mm, although there are versions of the II Class that are larger and smaller. Along with numerous stickpin miniatures, there is a rare Prinzen sized II Class that is around 30.5x33mm. In addition, a larger “Übergröße” cross was produced and is around 47-48mm. The Übergröße cross has a frame produced out of “800” silver.

There is a slimline variation of the II Class Iron Cross that is known as the Schinkel Cross. All Imperial Iron Cross awards were modelled after the 1813 Schinkel Cross, which was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. When the Iron Cross was reinstated in 1939, many manufacturers used existing stocks of Schinkel-style silver frames leftover from the First World War. This practice was quickly stopped by the LDO, as Hitler wanted to the new Iron Cross to be larger in size. Existing examples of the 1939 Schinkel Cross can still be found today.

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