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Dear fellow collectors,

as every collector does I keep a keen eye out for anything that might fit well within my collection. Having surfed the internet for medalbars, pictures and decorations for a few years now I have noticed that it has become en vogue for dealers to give stories to medalbars. To be clear, these medalbars have not been identified, and they rarely have any form of provenence. This is ofcourse done solely to increase the value of the piece and the prestige of the dealer.

For example, let's say we have a medalbar for sale of a junior officer, nothing too exciting, let's say an EK2, HH, ÖMVK medalbar. A dealer might now be inclined to say that this medalbar MUST have belonged to a junior officer who fought on the Eastern/Italian/Balkan front, for that is the place where the Austrians were. But this isn't true, we know that there were atleast two moments at which Austrians were present at the Western front (Early in 1914 with the Skoda guns and in 1918 at the end of the war).

Other medals of which some dealers claim (for not all dealers do this, only some) are the Hungarian 'Pro Deo et Patria' and the Bulgarian Medal for WW1. If any of these medals are on a medalbar it is in there eyes clear evidence that this piece must have belonged to someone who served on the Eastern/Balkan front. But aren't these medals just decorations you apply for, the only requirement being having served during WW1?

I know this topic is about non-German decorations so the Imperial section might not be too well-suited for it, however it is about decorations on German medalbars. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Kind regards, Laurentius

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Due to my limited level, Chinese translated by Google does not fully understand what you mean. . I have read a book before, Austria-Hungary has two infantry divisions on the west line, as a symbolic force against the British and French forces.:o

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Many combinations of awards point to a general level of certainty that the recipient served in a particular theatre. Regarding the various WW1 'for being there' medals, the criteria were pretty lax, but you had to have been 'in theatre' to apply. For instance, you couldn't apply for the Bulgarian medal without having served in the Balkans or without having been attached to a Bulgarian unit.

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Posted (edited)

It also depends on the "story" being told. As has been noted, many times assumptions are made which are not supported by the regulations for the medals, or by the award practice in the war. 

For example, regarding the Austro-Hungarian Militärverdienstkreuz, most were indeed awarded to officers serving alongside Austro-Hungarian units or in theaters like Italy, Galicia and the Balkans. However, many were awarded to officers on higher staffs wherever they served. And the decoration was commonly awarded to officers of GGR 2 simply because the Austrian Emperor was Chef of that regiment (although GGR 2 did serve in Galicia in 1915 and 1917).

The owner of this medal bar received two Austro-Hungarian war decorations. The Militärverdienstkreuz was awarded to him as the Stabsoffizier der Telegraphentruppen in the 7.Armee on the Western Front. The Orden der Eisernen Krone was awarded as StoTel in the Bugarmee on the Eastern Front. 

1560001220_DEOrdensspangeKopsch.jpg.8ac7c5d590320753a7f9abf530f30665.jpg

Regarding Bulgarian awards, IR 72 spent the entire war on the Western Front. However, Tsar Ferdinand was the Chef of IR 72, so a large number of IR 72 officers and men received Bulgarian war decorations. I suspect they were also an exception to the "in theatre" rule VtwinVince mentions for the War Commemorative Medal, but maybe he can confirm.

As an example of the assumptions we sometimes make which later prove wrong, I present the medal bar below. When I first posted this many, many years ago, I described it as "a cop from Meiningen". However, as I learned more about 1.WK awards, I found that the Ehrenmedaille für Verdienst im Kriege (SMM) was mostly awarded to citizens of Saxe-Meiningen, but there were a huge number of awards to other soldiers. Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Meiningen was the Chef of GR 10 and his wife Duchess Charlotte (sister of Wilhelm II) was Chefin of GR 11. There were well over 800 awards of the SMM to NCOs and soldiers in GR 10, GR 11 and their daughter formations like RIR 10 and RIR 11. So this medal bar could just as easily be to a "cop from Silesia". Bernhard was also Chef of IR 133 and à la suite LGR 100, but the Prussian Dienstauszeichnung and lack of a Saxon war decoration rules out a "cop from Saxony".

DE_6er_bar_EK_Meiningen_etc._1.jpg.e7952af7915a5e8284b7565eee2dbc96.jpg

As an example of some more limited assumptions we can make, below is another medal bar. There is not enough to attribute to a specific person, unit or theater, but there are some assumptions we can make. He was almost certainly a Saxon (the tag on the back is from a uniform shop in Dresden), and was commissioned during the war. He likely received the Silberne Friedrich-August Medaille as an NCO or Fähnrich, and the Albrechts-Orden as a Leutnant der Reserve or Leutnant. That's not much of a story, but it is a bit more than "here's these four medals on a bar".  

721317158_DEEK2SA3bXSsFAMFKE1.jpg.3cf78ae0a8485ed141c37a7a241b55f4.jpg

Edited by Dave Danner

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Dear Dave,

thank you, for your explanation is the perfect one for this subject, namely that assumptions can often not be made with certainty. I love how you used medalbars from your own collection to support your argument. Lovely pieces.

Kind regards, Laurentius

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Dave, Great explanation!

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There's hardly anything to add after the textbook explanations Dave Danner has given, but...

On 28/07/2019 at 18:10, VtwinVince said:

For instance, you couldn't apply for the Bulgarian medal without having served in the Balkans or without having been attached to a Bulgarian unit.

I'm 99,5 % sure every German, Austrian, Hungarian or Bulgarian soldier who fought in the war could apply for any of those three commemorative medals. Only exception, from what I know, was the Tyrol medal, demanding "being there". I don't have anything handy to back up my claim, but I think that's what I learned here, back in the old days, from Rick Research.

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I found something to back up my claim a little bit... this contemporary article doesn't mention with a single word one had to have been anywhere at a certain front or theater to apply for these medals:

pietsch-zusammenstellung, vol. 1.jpg

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