Original German WWII Wehrmacht Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 with Ribbon, Ribbon Bar Pin & Paper Packet
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a fantastic example of a very good condition German WWII Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 (Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse 1939) with its original red, black, and white ribbon. It also comes with a very nice ribbon bar pin, as well as an original paper packet, though it is quite worn. The award itself is maker marked with marked with Präsidialkanzlei des Führers Lieferant (Presidential Chancellery Supplier) number 24 on the hanger ring, which represents maker Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Hanauer Plakettenhersteller (Association of Hanau plaque manufacturers) of Hanau Germany.
The cross itself is a very fine example with crisp beading, though there is a bit if pressure denting on the border. The silvering to the frame is still partly bright, with areas of tarnish in the recesses, showing that it is real silver. The core paint on the iron center is also mostly present on both sides, with some small areas of flaking on the raised portions.
The cross comes with its original full length ribbon, threaded through the ring on the award and folded. The ribbon bar pin looks to have been hand stitched, and is in very good condition. The original paper packet is the light blue paper version, and shows quite a bit of period wear and fading. An index card has been placed inside to retain the shape. It has the correct markings in German Black Letter Typeface:
Please also note the edge seam for authentication, which is not present on reproductions. Iron crosses were commonly constructed from an iron core sandwiched in a surrounding two part silver frame, normally the seam of these two silver parts is visible around the edge of the cross as is seen on this fine example.
The basic design of the WWII crosses is a central Tatzenkreuz (cross pattée) struck from iron and mounted in a silver frame which has a raised crenulated decorative border. The obverse of the cross bears the date 1939 under a "mobile" swas. Second class crosses would have a ring at the top where a ring was attached, and had more markings on the back. The first class award, however, was meant to attach directly to the front of the uniform.
This is just a lovely set, a great representative example of an Iron Cross 2nd Class as issued. Ready to display!
There is no more iconic German military award than the Iron Cross. The long history of this order began during the Napoleonic Wars. King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia instituted the “Eisernes Kreuz” (Iron Cross) in March of 1813. The award criteria changed somewhat with time, but generally speaking, Iron Crosses could be awarded for individual acts of bravery, or for leadership achievements on the battlefield. The design was created by a Karl Friedrich Schinkel, his choice of the black cross with silver outline was derived from the heraldic emblem of the Teutonic Knights.
There were a number of different type and grades of Iron Cross awards throughout its long history, but the basic details of the most widely awarded grades: The Iron Cross 1st Class and Iron Cross 2nd Class- remained the same. The first class award was a breast badge, with fittings on the reverse to allow it to be worn on the uniform. These fittings varied widely over time and from maker to maker, and could be a simple in and catch, a screw post and retaining disc, or more elaborate setups. The second class award was suspended from a ribbon, originally in the Prussian colors of black and white, later in the Reich colors of black, red and white.
On the original versions of these crosses, in 1813, the front of the iron core of each grade was bare, and only the second class award had ornamentation: a crown over the initials “FW” representing the King, a sprig of oak leaves, and the date 1813. The core was redesigned in 1870, when the cross was re-instituted during the Franco-Prussian War. The reverse ornamentation on the Iron Cross 2nd Class remained the same, but the front of the core on both grades now bore another crown, a “W” representing Kaiser Wilhelm, and the date 1870. This pattern repeated again when the cross was reinstituted for WWI- everything stayed the same, only the date 1870 was replaced with 1914.
The final reinstitution of the cross came in 1939. For this version, the front of the core for both grades bore a swas and the date 1939. The oak leaves, crown and royal initials were removed from the reverse, with only the date 1813 remaining as a reminder of the legacy of this award. In WWII, hundreds of thousands of Iron Cross First Class awards were bestowed, and four and a half million Iron Cross Second Class awards. Iron Crosses were made by a large number of authorized manufacturers. Some variants of these awards were mass produced in huge numbers. Others were made in very limited quantities.
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