Continuing our look at the single most iconic German medal, today we have an Iron Cross Second Class on the left with the rarer ‘next of kin’ or ‘widow’s ribbon’. This ribbon would have been presented to a family member of a deceased soldier, with its distinction being only in the ribbon itself.
Additionally, there is the Iron Cross First Class, which is a ‘pin back’ and a domed type. This is a privately purchased item that fits snugly to the pocket when worn. This particular example is marked with ‘800’ on the pin, signifying the standard German silver mark.
The final photograph displays the Iron Cross Second Class with both the regular and widow’s ribbons, alongside the full-sized and miniature versions of the Iron Cross. Such miniatures are rare since Germans typically wear them in the form of stickpins or on chains.
Collectors commonly refer to the Iron Cross as either ‘EK’ or ‘EK2’. It should also be noted that, just as with coins, medals should neither be cleaned nor stored long-term in plastic packets.
The first of a two part post exploring this iconic German medal.
In this photo the iron cross with the ribbon is a second class and the ribbon only was worn on the uniform. The other is a first class with pin back and would have been worn on the pocket. Both have an iron centre with silver frame and, ideally, all medals should have coin-like definition.
The value of the Iron Cross is largely determined by the maker’s mark, though not all of them have this mark. For the 2nd class, the mark is typically stamped on the ring, while for the first class, it’s either on the back or the pin. Sometimes, you might only find the “800” mark, which represents German silver. During the First World War, letters were used for maker marks. Interestingly, even during the Third Reich, Iron Crosses from the First World War were still produced, and these typically have a number as the maker’s mark.