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Prussian Napoleonic Campaign Medals

The Napoleonic Wars were the beginning of the modern campaign medal era in which everyone regardless of rank got a medal. The large numbers of soldiers on all sides was unprecedented. Prussia based on the weight of the bronze used to make the Prussian medals would have issued 326,316 medals alone. The Prussian medals depicting an Iron Cross come in two varieties . The first version has a cross with rounded ends on the arms while the second version has cross arms with more realistic straight ends. The round end cross medal exists with the service dates: 1813, 1813-1814, 1814. The straight end cross medal exists with the service dates: 1813, 1813-1814, 1814, 1815. Why the difference? My theory is that after Napoleon was finally defeated the Prussian mint was in a hurry to produce a large number of medals as fast as possible. More than one die cutter was used and at least one of them didn’t realize that the Iron Cross had arms with straight ends or didn’t have time to finish his dies. What ever the reason eventually the error was corrected and that is why the correct straight end version exists with more service years than the early incorrect round ends version.

Another possible theory of mine is that the round ended cross medals were issued to soldiers stationed in fortresses and the straight ended cross medals went to soldiers in the field. I can’t prove either one. Can you?

About Fred Borgmann

Retired from KP after nearly 31 years as new issues editor and the Standard Catalogs.
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