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Gentleman's Military Interest Club
Chris Boonzaier

Onyx Wilhelm award cross...

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I am a bit hesitant to bring this up for discussion as I dont want to piss Joe off, but I am sure he wont mind.

I find the onyx and silver EK2 to be a fascinating piece, what I am not so convinced of is, is purpos. Having said that, these are just a series of thoughts thrown together on a two hour drive and they may be ripped apart by the members.

After some deliberation, my conclusion is that this may be a very exclusive private purchase piece, as opposed to a Willy 2 presentation piece.

My reasoning is as follows...

Technically "the Iron Cross" is just that, an iron cross with silver rims added for easier wearing. Although an intergral part of the award, the rims are just a frame, the iron core is the symbolic part of the award.

Even in WW2 the iron centre was a sacred cow, the brass centered crosses being banned at some point. The rims themselves did not seem to be a big issue, either silver or "some white metal" but that has little to do with the "core" issue.

The question that bothers me is... Would Willi, guardian angel of the iron cross tradition, have handed out medals that obliterated the symbolism of the iron cross, because the iron cross was shrouded in symbolism.

The tradition of the cross also dictates that all men were equal, a simple cross of iron...and Basta...

If there were to be special recipients, who were they? The Kaiser, crown prince, archdukes and generals all have regular awards.

So, if the top brass did not get these and I am unaware of foreign dignatories getting the EK... Who did.

The figure of 50-200 I assume is based on a rough estimate of how many people may have been in a position to be decorated by the Kaiser, but Willy spent his days pinning these things on in all directions. The really big brass often had 1870 EK2s or recieved the 1914 ones in the first weeks of the war... After that there was noone really of a high rank to award these to, Which would point to these being made as EK1s as well maybe as these would have been needed later in the war more than EK2s for top guys.

So, assuming that this cross DOES go against the spirit of the "Iron" cross, and we cannot find a photo of a big cheese wearing one... I would say that it is unlikely that this is a Kaiser award piece and probably an expensive private purchase piece.

I would even go as far as to guess it was made between the wars when there was no govt body to control who wore what, I dont think in that form it would have been worn on the chest of a soldier in official uniform.

The only person who seems to have worn a visabley Non "Iron" cross in official uniform was Goering, although some folks doubt the originality of the "Onyx" Grosskreuz.

If my suppositions and musings are in fact correct, then it could be that any jeweller in Vienna, Berlin (etc.) could have produced this as a one off or ten off or hundred off for the deep pocketed rich and byoooootiful.

I am not asking anyone to assume that I automatically know what I am talking about just becase I am posting an opinion, and maybe someone has a pic of the Crownprince wearing one and eye witness reports of the Kaiser pinning them on...

At the very limit I hope this stimulates a lively discussion....

Best

Chris

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I had one of those onyx/silver EK's a few years ago and I always thought it was just a posh private purchase piece.

*EDIT* I was going to post a photo but can I find the bugger anywhere :banger: (It's a "proper" photo not a digital)

Dave

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And the bar as a whole. Chris I think these were clearly very expensive, unapproved and pure vanity items. Why would be anybody's guess, but this fellow wasn't a prince, or anyone special. Just a lowly EM and he bought one.

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Try contacting Steve Previterra directly. I know many of his pieces recently went to market. If he doesn't have one, he might know someone who does...

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It's total coincidence I'm sure, but I have always thought Joe's fantastic 'onyx' cross bore more than a passing resemblance to this illustration in a 1939 Deumer catalogue.

And for the record, I am inclined to agree with Chris's extremely well thought out opinion about both the era (between the wars) and the nature of the cross (expensive private purchase piece rather than KW2 presentation piece).

Dosen't change the fact I'd have it in my collection in a heartbeat though!!

Marshall

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Nice EK Stogieman! ;)

These are not really genuine 'onyx' but black glass enamelled cores in the fashion of the 1870-1871 Women's and maiden's crosses as Tom very correctly describes in the link.

The core itself is silver and has the details such as the crown, W and the dates, etc raised up higher than the field. After the glass enamel is applied to the field and is fired, it is struck down flush and level. This stiking and polishing exposes the silver details which are then very carefully engraved. This glass enamel method was also used during the TR era in producing mother's crosses.

About it being a personal award by the Kaiser I wouldn't know but the quality is exemplary.

Certainly a beauty! :love:

Tony

Edited by Tony J

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Here is a picture of the reverse side of Tony's EK2. I really like the

look of the oak leaves on this one.

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Just a thought to Kaiser Awards, I now have 2 examples awarded by the kaiser in 1917-1918, one to an officer. Both are simple KAG crosses. (I assume that is just because the supplies delivered that week just happened to be KAG).

Man, these Onyx crosses have become expeeeeeeeensive!

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Onyx crosses surely weren´t produced for award ceremonies led by Kaiser. II think we can say it safely after all those years. They were luxury private purchases from postwar era.

Here is a nice proof from my collection. Matt enamelled piece by C. F. Zimmermann. We know this slim frame and crown/letters style from postwar CFZ pieces with blued core, EK2s and vaulted EK1s as well.

I think there is not anyone who ever supposed these be produced wartime. And what was not produced wartime, couldn´t be produced for Kaiser.

 

CFZ_1.jpg

CFZ_2.jpg

CFZ_3.jpg

Edited by kasle

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that's a great picture!

i'm not really into ww2 stuff, but am curious about the eagle on his cap. what branch of national service does it represent?

 

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It's standard Wehrmacht, but I think its directly woven into the cap and not individually applied, similar to some of Hitler's hats

 

Alex

eagle.JPG

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I Did a colourisation of it here, I've also done one of the earlier B/W image, but not posted it yet

 

rudolf_von_bunau_combined.thumb.JPG.01deab3387d17785764fb625629c5669.JPG

Edited by Alex K

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