As most of you know Germany was composed of various independent states ranking from kingdoms to free city states. The largest and most powerful was Prussia which eventually forced the German unification in 1871 when the Prussian King also became the German Emperor. Ever since 1813 when the Iron Cross was established it has become the most famous military decoration in the world and is often thought of as a Germany decoration which is incorrect until 1939 when Hitler actually made it an official German award. The 1914 version is the most common and was the lowest priced. The 1939’s are also common but more expensive since demand is greater for Nazi stuff . Over the last decade things have been changing and now I see dealers asking 75.00 or more for common 2nd class IC’s and 1st class crosses are running from 125.00 to well over 400.00! For an old time collector like me these prices just look nuts. What are they really worth, well I just put one on ebay so we will see. Supply and demand determines prices over all so I did some looking around. German dealers are also listing at these prices and I see that many collectors are now collecting by maker and other varieties. Supply didn’t change but demand sure seems to have grown, so much so that fakes are now a problem for the 1914’s.
Illustrated below is a genuine 1914 First class Iron Cross. Genuine 1st class ICs have a black painted iron core within a silver frame mounted on a silver back plate. The flat version with a pin back is the government issue while the convex versions which are often screw backs, are private purchase pieces. Many Germans didn’t want to risk damaging or losing the originals in combat or had to replace ones that were. There are many different hallmarks on genuine crosses and some are not marked at all. If the cross is not made of multi piece construction and the center core is not magnetic it is almost certainly a fake.