IRON CROSS – 1914 – 1st CLASS – PRINZENGROßE – WARENHAUS FÜR ARMEE UND MARINE HALLMARK – .800 SILVER HALLMARK.
This is a handsome 1914 Prinzengroße Iron Cross 1st Class. The Prinzengroße Iron Cross originated more than a hundred years prior to WW I as a smaller variation of noblemen/royalty’s decorations that could be worn by their young sons. The term Prinzengroße means “prince-sized.” The youngsters wore uniforms that emulated their fathers,’ as well as headdresses and swords to accommodate their stature. By the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War, it became more of an affectation among officers who preferred the smaller Iron Crosses 1st Class and 2nd Class over full-sized examples.
By WW I’s advent, it had become even more unusual for an officer to wear the smaller-sized Iron Cross. This example definitely was privately-purchased AFTER its officer/owner was awarded the 1914 Iron Cross 1st Class. He had opted to purchase this cross from Warenhaus für Armee und Marine, a military effects store. It had been founded during 1887/1888 in Berlin. Similar to Berlin’s C.E. Juncker, it essentially served as a department store for army and navy officers in need of uniforms, headdresses, decorations, and so on. [As this cross is magnetic, the officer probably hailed from the Army rather than the Navy].
The cross measures 1.25” x 1.25,” and features some small patches of paint loss. I rate its paint at about 90%. The quality of the beading is first-rate. Its reverse features the Warenhaus für Armee und Marine hallmark, as well as an .800 silver content hallmark. This is a real find, although a bit short of a Godet or Wagner & Söhne Prinzengroße example.