PRUSSIA – STICKPIN – ORDEN POUR le MÉRITE – ORIGINAL PRESENTATION CASE
The Orden Pour le Mérite (PLM) was the Kingdom of Prussia’s (and later Imperial Germany’s) most coveted military decoration. It was first authorized by Prussia’s König Friedrich der Große in the 18th Century. He was so enamored with all things French that he created what was to become Imperial Germany’s best-remembered military decoration with a French name. [He also dictated that French was to be his court’s official language, and built Germany’s first great palace in Potsdam Sanssouci, modeling it on the French Palace of Versailles]. It was awarded to both top-level military commanders and young line-officers during its nearly one-hundred-and-fifty years of existence. During WW I, it was given to young aviators, U-Boot commanders, and even Army company commanders who showed extreme bravery in the face of the enemy.
All PLM recipients were required to wear their PLM (or an item related to it) at ALL times they were out in public, so they could be properly honored by other military personnel AND the population at large. Naturally, when they were in uniform, the decoration was worn at their throats. Yet how were they to properly display the decoration when they were NOT in uniform? Wearing a neck decoration when attired in a suit simply was not proper. So, to comply with the requirement, many officers wore miniature PLM boutonnieres in their suits’ buttonholes. Another somewhat less common way to display the PLM was on stickpins through their ties or attached to their lapels.
The latter form is what we are offering today, a beautifully detailed stickpin. Its PLM is quite small and discreet, measuring ¼” x ¼.” Its enamel work is exceptionally handsome. The blue arms are lovely, and its gold “Pour le Mérite” lettering and crown are eye-catching and easily discernible. The detailing of its four eagles is exceptional. The PLM itself is attached to a gold-toned pin that measures 2″ in length. The pin is knurled. I see no signs of a maker’s hallmark, but it is evident that a very skilled jeweler produced this amazingly small and faithfully produced stickpin. It displays no hallmarks for gold content, but the stickpin certainly has that “look.” I will not crawl out on a limb to unequivocally state it is made of gold, but my watery old eyes tell me that it IS so.
The final detail to this sensational presentation is a custom-made, fitted presentation case. It is covered with black leatherette and measures 1″ x 1″ x 3 ½.” The top half’s exterior has rounded corners that lend it a stylish air. The exterior also reveals some scuffing, but it is in fine condition structurally. Its interior reveals a deep red silk liner for its top half. The case’s bottom half features a fitted black velvet area in which the stickpin nestles. The latter sports a loop at the bottom to secure the pin within the case.
I rarely see PLM stickpins, and have never seen one that boasted such superior quality. Add this to the deluxe presentation case, and one has an amazing pair of collectibles!