bolewts58

Rossbach Cross of Military Merit 1st Class

7 posts in this topic

ID: 1   Posted (edited)

Freikorps collecting is often frustrating because of the often incomplete records, sometimes anecdotal information and scarcity of period examples of awards and badges with which to compare. A case in point is the Rossbach Cross of Military Merit.

I have one of these in my collection and while I have a great deal of confidence in it because of the quality of manufacture, how it compares to other Freikorps awards and that it conforms in many ways to what is known about the award, there's no definitive way to say absolutely that it is genuine simply because there are so few examples around to use for comparison. I suppose that alone is actually a positive, as there don't seem to be fakes of this anywhere on the market because you simply hardly see this cross in any form.

Most of what is known about this award is second hand, coming as it does from Klietmann who received rather spotty information about the cross from Rossbach sometime in the 1950s.

What is known is this.

Rossbach conceived of the cross in late 1919 as a combattant award for members of his Freikorps. Sample designs were created at the beginning of 1920 by two firms: Friedrich Sedlatzek and J. Godet & Sohn. The cross was around 51mm silvered white metal alloy with gilded stag heads between the white-enameled arms and 12mm center medallion in black enamel with a silvered letter 'R'. It had an unusual round needle pin which passed through a barrel hinge and was bent to form a crude tension spring. This style of hardware is only seen on a few Freikorps period awards and nowhere else.

A lack of funds prevented an order being made until Spring 1921. Award certificates only were first handed out in May 1921. It's assumed that recipients had to buy the cross themselves. The number of awards from this ceremony is unknown. Which manufacturer chosen for production is also unknown and all known pieces are unmarked. In my opinion, it's probable that both makers made crosses to order for recipients, since the test dies already existed. Variations of the cross are known. So, this seems likely.

Several additional crosses were apparently awarded to members of the Freikorps who participated in the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. The last awards were made at a dedication ceremony of the old Rossbach battle flags to the S.A. on November 6, 1933. According to Klietmann, Rossbach indicated that he thought no more than 120 formal awards were handed out. A special version of the cross was awarded to General, Prince Pavel Bermondt-Avalov.

There was also a 2nd class awarded which is even rarer than the 1st class.

Additional anecdotal information that I got from a well-known collector many years ago, who claimed to have been told this by Klietmann was that Rossbach had another lot of crosses produced in the late 1950s made of tombac and only with a gilt finish (rather than the silvered alloy with gilded stags on the originally ordered crosses) and with post-1945 hardware on the reverse. These were supposedly given to special business acquaintances of Rossbach's, who had at that time a very successful import-export business. This post-1945 cross was apparently also given out at the 40 year reunion of the Freikorps in 1961. There are very few of even these post-45 crosses around. Klietmann supposedly referred to them as "Nachfertigungen", which could translate as replica or reproduction, but I think is meant to mean a subsequent production or re-issue. Since Klietmann was running Godet at this point, he could well have been the producer of this "second run" of the cross.

Excluding the post-1945 cross, I've identified 4 variations in known 1st and 2nd class crosses, including mine, which is similar to the one shown in Hartung's book, except with different hardware.

Here is an image of mine and also a comparison with others that are known.

 

 

 

Rossbach 1.jpg

Rossbach 1rev.jpg

Rossbach crossescomp.jpg

Edited by bolewts58

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi

I am impressed by the quality of your collection. Congrats.

When I've begun to collect Militaria, the first book I have bought is the  von  Salomon's Freikorps book from 1938. At that time I'd loved to collect freecorps medals but I have never found one in militaria show. Later I have found some dealers who sold some but there is a lot of fake. So I have chosen to collect Imperial medals.

Thanks for sharing your collection with  us.

Christophe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 3   Posted (edited)

16 hours ago, Deruelle said:

Hi

I am impressed by the quality of your collection. Congrats.

When I've begun to collect Militaria, the first book I have bought is the  von  Salomon's Freikorps book from 1938. At that time I'd loved to collect freecorps medals but I have never found one in militaria show. Later I have found some dealers who sold some but there is a lot of fake. So I have chosen to collect Imperial medals.

Thanks for sharing your collection with  us.

Christophe

I understand your caution about Freikorps fakes. But, there are comparatively few of them, when compared to the large numbers of fake Imperial German orders, decorations and badges.

Edited by bolewts58

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Gents,

Ok, I'll try to post some pictures, hope it will help. In the following posts I will discuss only 1st class crosses.
1. The obverse picture of Rossbach cross published in July 1943 in Der Reiter gen Osten newspaper, and the cross from my collection which IMO is a perfect match to it.
Having in mind untypical set up which can be only met on some decorations produced in 20-ies, I'd say that we see here the 1st run of these crosses.

img067.jpg

Freikorps1.jpg

Freikorps2.jpg

2. The obverse picture of Rossbach cross from Klietmann's book dated 1979, and the matching specimen from Hartung catalogue. Having in mind the rarity of this version , and also the set up, I'd suppose that we see the additional edition awarded in 1933.
Honestly said, that's it. I've never seen any other 1st class crosses which have any provenance. Of course we can't exclude private purchase items, but they are a question of believe and proper hand inspection :)

Rossbach.jpg

1[1].jpg

As for the cross in the beginning of the thread....ufff... personally I do not like it. First of all it carries the design of these suspicious items which Brian describes as produced in 50-ies and we used to consider fakes. Please find below one of them for comparison.
What makes it even worse, having the design of later production, the set up of this cross is trying to imitate the early one (?). 
And last but not least--the source. Brian can tell us more about the seller, I will just mention that some of the fake Freikorps decorations from this person are really well made and are not serial/unique. And what a coincidence, just few months before he also sold one of these "50-ies made" items... 

Fake one.

1.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 5   Posted (edited)

I can't argue against your evidence, as you have more experience with this cross than I do. I will say that the one thing about mine that bothers me, particularly are the stag heads, especially the antlers.

The quality of the seller's Freikorps badges is very high. But, almost all his items are fake. I have been able to spot most of the fakes, because of experience with real items. But, I hadn't seen genuine examples of this cross other than in photos. So, I took a chance.

The seller with the ID of porre81 changed his identity to adlernest01 and then again resurfaced as vanderbilt4392. This slippery cheat and fraud is to be avoided at all costs. Subsequently, he deleted his profile on eBay. I did manage to open a case and request a refund. He rejected the refund request and eBay Germany, useless scumbags that they are, accepted his rejection and closed the case. I learned long ago, as both a buyer and seller on eBay Germany, that it does not have the same level of whatever integrity the parent company in the US has and that eBay Germany plays favorites and is often downright corrupt.

The real name and address of this seller of high-quality fake Imperial, Freikorps and Third Reich items is:

Marc Poredda

Gustav-Heinemann-Str. 45

58239 Schwerte

Deutschland

This whole experience has been a hard lesson learned and a blow to my credibility, more so I think because it happens rarely. But, when it does, it happens in a spectacular fashion. But, it's taught me to go with my gut, rather than taking a chance on spec.

Edited by bolewts58

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I appreciate your humility Brian, this doesnt harm your credibility in the slightest.  It takes guts to roll the dice on a hunch, then share with the collecting community for better or worse, so we can hold a conversation and benefit.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Mike. While I accept Sergey's assessment of this cross, I'm not prepared to declare it an outright fake. At the moment, it seems to be a one-off, from what date, I don't know. I realize that it's certainly not Freikorps period. Sergey's correct that it's details match what I have called the post-1945 Rossbach-sanctioned re-issues (based on what I consider fairly valid info from a very reliable source). But, it is made of "Neusilber" (white metal alloy) rather than the usual bronze gilt seen on these post '45 crosses. So, it's a bit of a head-scratcher, at this point. I will likely try to sell it, at some point. But, I'll identify it as a later manufactured anomaly, unless some new information comes to light that definitively identifies it as a fake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now