PRUSSIA – MILITARY LONG SERVICE AWARD – 2nd CLASS – KÖNIG FRIEDRICH WILHELM III
Friedrich Wilhelm III (1770-1840) is one of Prussia’s better known kings. He was Friedrich II’s (Frederick the Great: 1712-1786) grandson. Friedrich Wilhelm III was King of Prussia from 1797-1840. He was the father of König (later Kaiser) Wilhelm I, who was born the year Friedrich Wilhelm III assumed the Prussian throne. Friedrich Wilhelm III was King of Prussia through the Napoleonic Wars, when Prussia served Great Britain and Russia’s key ally against Napoleon and France. Under his administration, the Iron Crosses 1st and 2nd Class were established to honor Prussian soldiers’ bravery. Before that time, although the Orden Pour le Mérite and other decorations recognized officers’ military contributions, nothing existed for the “common man.” With the establishment of the Iron Cross in 1813, a man was recognized for his military bravery, NOT his rank. Any man could win the Iron Cross. [The decoration was again awarded during three later wars: the Franco-Prussian War (1870 EK), World War I (1914 EK), and World War II (1939 EK). It was even given to veterans after WW II, with 1957’s de-Nazified version]. Under Friedrich Wilhelm III, the practice of awarding war service medals produced from the bronze of melted-down, captured enemy cannons was also inaugurated. These medals were issued in 1813, 1814, and 1815. (This practice was also revived in 1870/71’s short but fierce Franco-Prussian War).
Today we are offering still another decoration from Friedrich Wilhelm III’s era. It is an enlisted man/NCO’s Military Long-Service Award 2nd Class. It is a clasp featuring König Friedrich Wilhelm III’s cypher in its center. Obviously, the decoration must precede 1840. It is AT LEAST one-hundred-twenty-five-years-old. It is mounted on an original blue ribbon that shows its age. A pin appears on its reverse to secure it to a garment. It is in very fine condition, especially when one considers its age.