With the war being declared in September of, it is believed that several medal manufacturers were in fact caught out with the re- institution of the Iron Cross and as such, many variations were manufactured until a standardisation came in about 1940/41. These variations are highly collected by the Iron Cross collector and much discussion has been raised on them. The Iron Cross is Germany’s top Bravery award, like Great Britain’s Victoria Cross. This award -namely the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross- went on to capture the imagination of the German People and later, the World. Unlike Great Britain though, who has different bravery awards for different ranks, such as the Military Cross or Distinguished Flying Cross for Officers or the Military Medals or Distinguished flying medal for Other Ranks or NCOs’. The Iron Cross came in four grades (at the beginning of the War), being the Iron Cross 2nd Class for one act of bravery, the Iron Cross 1st Class for 4 or more acts of bravery, the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross, four outstanding act of bravery and the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (only awarded once in World War two to Hermann Goring The Reichmarchell of the Luftwaffe). There were also two bars, one for the 2nd class ribbon of the Iron Cross 2nd class 1914, for those awarded the decoration in World War two, and a pin on “bar” that was worn over the Iron Cross 1st Class for 1914, if again the holder was awarded the decoration in World War two, this “Bar” was an opened winged eagle holding a swastika over a dated bar of 1939. Here though, we are going to be looking at the first of these awards and their variations.
The first variant we shall discuss is the oversized Iron Cross. These measure anything from 47 mm to 48 ½ mm and it was believed that these were to be the new “Knights Cross” of Germany’s newly instituted Iron Cross series. These crosses appear to have been manufactured by one or two firms, as very few of the centres show any difference in die characteristics.
The next type of variation is often called the Schinkel form. These are usually crosses that have been manufactured from parts utilised from WWI crosses being the frames but with newly made centres. Several of these were non magnetic and some have even been of one piece construction. To date, only one of these crosses has been encountered with a maker’s mark although it would appear that several manufacturers’s made them. With these Schinkel crosses, you also get variations in the size of the swastikas and size of the dates as well as stylisation of the numerals and frame variations.
Then comes a type called the straight arm cross or the Shinkel form type B. This is in fact more like the original design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. One variation of this cross has a rounded No “3” which leads us onto the next type that is like the standard type but with this type of numeral configuration. For ease many call it the rounded “3” type because it has the top part of the three rounded instead of flat like the standard type of crosses. And like all of the above this type can be found in first class as well as the
Occasionally you may find a Non Iron cross that has a zinc or brass centre, these are usually the standard form but you will find as stated early the type a Schinkel with this feature. Also on the standard crosses you will find a verity of makers marks stamped into the ribbon ring but on rare occasions you may find it marked on the crosses frame like this L/12 example.
Finally there are the one piece made examples that come in a number of metals ranging from nickle silver to zinc, But be very careful with these as they have been heavily copied On a rather sad note, these crosses have now been reproduced both in the first and second class forms in both the standard pattern types and the schinkel type a patterns and care must now be exercised with these crosses. On the first class Shinkel types, several reproductions have been seen with their pins marked 800 and Godet, whereas the second class crosses have had their rings stamped with post 1941 marks, again a practice that would not have been encountered on them.…
To our knowledge, none of the other styles have been copied, but we feel this is only a matter of time, with many collectors of the Iron Cross wanting to fill the gaps in their collection after the release of the excellent book “The German Iron Cross” by Gordon Williamson. This has not only spurred on collectors, but also the repro manufacturer’s to take their art to newer forms. So what were once considered to be safe purchases must, like the rest of our hobby, be scrutinised.
The firm of Jamie Cross is Non-political & items offered for sale are for historical interest and investment only. We have a nice collection of German War Medals, British Army Medals and British Medals for Sale.