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Prussian Order Pour le Mérite ("Blue Max")?

In Military and Wartime > Military Medals > Show & Tell and Military and Wartime > World War One > Show & Tell.
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Posted 1 year ago

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bluemax1914
(65 items)

This Pour le Mérite was given to me many years ago. My local jewelry dealer tells me that it is constructed of high-grade silver, but the piece has no markings. After some research, based on its characteristics, and if original, it is apparently a Pour le Mérite produced by Austria’s noted order-manufacturing firm, Roethe, which was located in Vienna. Roethe served as Austrian Kaiser Franz Josef’s House Jeweler (it was Godet, Wagner, etcetera’s Berlin equivalent). Roethe decorations were equal in quality to any produced in Berlin. Austrians were master enamel workers. They produced some of the Imperial Period’s finest enamel decorations. It is difficult to say if this is a wartime or a postwar example, as Roethe produced orders and decorations AFTER the Great War. There are also a dozen types of out-and out reproductions manufactured for the sole purpose of defrauding collectors.

What is certain is that the piece has been in a fire, but in not enough heat to totally consume the enamel. Note the fine detail in the upper eagle's tails, with cut-out areas that I have never seen in a reproduction. One of the lower two eagles show slight damage to the tail, being bent from being dropped or from striking against an object. There is some lack of detail in the medal's lettering and crown when I have compared it to others. This could be a variation? Several collectors have offered different opinions, one calling it a "museum copy", and still wanted to buy it.

I invite comments as to the piece's originality, as I am not an expert in this field. Original or otherwise, it is not for sale.

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Comments

  1. Militarist Militarist, 1 year ago
    I would be in agreement with those who think this is a copy. Post this on the Wehrmacht Awards site in the Imperial German section and I am sure you will get so fast replies from people who know.
  2. bluemax1914 bluemax1914, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Militarist, I will take your advice.
  3. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Militarist is pointing you at a good site though with the amount of counterfeits, it is loaded with skeptics. I did a little research recently & the tail feathers & feet seem to be the common fault in repros.. Yours appears correct if memory serves me right.
  4. marksmilitaria, 1 year ago
    Toss back into the fire pit, this is a common fake, and a poor one at that
  5. jerryk25, 10 months ago
    I have one like this, the enamel is very flat, solid silver construction, much thinner than modern replicas, extreme detail in the eagles. single line chase in the letters, dot dimples in the crown, enamel flaked out at the cross cent from flexing. I have been getting comments that it is a 1920's era Roethe, would like to know what you found out.
  6. bluemax1914 bluemax1914, 10 months ago
    jerryl25, I have been offered differing opinions (see marksmilitaria's outright dismissal). I have seen many of the replicas, and as you point out, none have any detail in the tail feathers of the eagles, and all are somewhat thicker than this one. Since it cost me nothing, I am not too concerned either way, just curious why if it is "a common fake" that after more than 40 years of collecting I have not seen another like it fashioned in solid silver.
  7. jerryk25, 10 months ago
    I have more than 20 replicas and fakes. (red baron nut) This piece is hands down way better. It might be a fake, but it may be a museum copy. I've had it since 1974. If this is a copy, it's a casting that has been meticulously hand filed. But I think it is coined. There are no file marks. Still trying to figure out how to post a photo.
  8. jerryk25, 10 months ago
    I just posted my PLM of the same / similar type, under medals and badges / military . . . .

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