WÜRTTEMBERG – WILHEMS CROSS – OFFICER – PINBACK – TYPE 1
Württemberg began awarding The Wilhelm’s Cross in 1915 in two classes, as a 2nd Class Cross on a ribbon, or as a 1st Class Pinback Decoration for officers. What we are offering today is an extremely rare (and I do mean RARE) example of Württemberg’s Offiziers Steckkreuz Wilhelmskreuz mit Krone und Schwerten (Officers’ Pinback Wilhelm’s Cross with Crown and Swords). The decoration is made of oxidized bronze and features a massive voided crown at its top. It measures 2 ¾” from the crown’s top to the decoration’s bottom, and 2″ in width. Its center displays King Wilhelm II of Württemberg’s royal cypher enclosed within a laurel leaf wreath. A pair of crossed swords extends through the decoration’s body.
The decoration’s reverse exhibits a long, tapered pin that measures 1 ¾” in length. A closer inspection reveals that the pin is somewhat discolored. [This is a good sign, showing me that it was worn on a tunic at some point, rubbing against the uniform’s sewn-in decoration loops when it was pinned to and removed from the tunic. A small detail like this increases my comfort level, since it reveals “honest” age]. The reverse’s center also displays a hallmark that we cannot identify. The latter’s details appear in the photos accompanying our description.
Earlier, I mentioned that it is a very rare decoration. My research in Jörg Nimmergut’s excellent five volume series about German decorations reveals that it was awarded ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY-ONE times. Out of those 121 awards, ONE HUNDRED and EIGHT were awarded to Württemberg’s native sons, while the rest went to officers of other states within the German Empire. [This is quite rarefied company when one notes that the Orden Pour le Mérite was awarded more than seven hundred times]!
It gets even better! During the award’s brief existence, three different versions were awarded and classified as Types 1, 2, and 3. This example is a Type 1, the rarest of the three, and commands a higher value. [Nimmergut’s current price guide values a Type 1 at €5,500, which translates to $5,995 at the November 2016 rate of exchange]. Since we bought it at a very reasonable price, we are pleased to share the bargain with you.
[PLEASE NOTE: the photos accompanying this description show the decoration mounted onto two Württemberg tunics (#15-668 and #15-669, listed below) that we are offering. The officer to whom the tunics belonged worked at the German General Staff, and was a member of Infanterie-Regiment Alt-Württemberg (3. Württ.) Nr 121. A very good probability exists that he proudly wore one of these decorations on his tunic]!