Pour le Mérite for Arts and Sciences, Cross (in silver gilt)
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The Order Pour le Mérite for Arts and Sciences was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV as an independent civilian branch of the Pour le Mérite in 1842.
The order was originally restricted to male civilians for meritorious service and achievements in the arts and sciences, with particular focus on the humanities, natural sciences, and arts.
In 1918, following the end of the First World War, the state sponsorship of the order ended. The military class of the order was abolished; however, the civil class remained, with members re-establishing the order as a separate organisation, with new rules and a new nomination procedure.
The order was awarded to new members in 1923, with recipients including Albert Einstein (1923) and the first female recipient, Käthe Kollwitz (1929).
During the Third Reich, the award became a state honour, and notable Jewish recipients were deprived of their awards.
In 1952, the order was re-established as an independent organisation and continues to be awarded. Active membership in the order is limited to 40 German citizens and 40 foreign citizens.
A total of 558 civil crosses were awarded. These took place between 1842 and 1917, when 343 were awarded, and between 1952 and 1991, when 215 were awarded. The manufacturer was Wilm, located in Hamburg. Original crosses were made in gold. The '750' hallmark can often be found on decorations.
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