This is one of the most amazing desk pieces that I have ever cast my eyes upon. The magnificent presentation’s central theme is a pair of battling eagles. One eagle is in the superior position with its wings outspread, flapping over the vanquished eagle below it. [They are in flight, by the way]. The design comes directly from Ehrenbechers (honor goblets) first awarded to Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann on 24 December 1915. These Ehrenbechers initially were produced by Berlin’s Godet & Söhne, Kaiser Wilhelm II’s noted house jewelers. The firm also produced many of the PLM’s, Knight’s Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Orders, and other top German awards. In addition, both men became WW I’s first recipients of the Orden Pour le Mérite (nicknamed the “Blue Max” for Max Immelmann) in January 1916, after achieving their eighth victories. Both were dead before 1916 ended. Max Immelmann was killed in June, while Oswald Boelcke was the victim of a midair collision with one of his own pilots in October.
The Ehrenbecher was funded by the German armament industry (which, dear readers, can be spelled “Alfred Krupp”). The actual design, purchase, and distribution of the Ehrenbecher came from the office of the Kommandierender General der Luftstreitkräfte (Commanding General of the Imperial German Air Service) Generalleutnant Ernst von Hoeppner and Oberstleutnant Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen, von Hoeppner’s Chief-of-Staff. Officially known as “Ehrenbecher für den Sieger” (Honor Goblet for the Winner), featured the two battling eagles in flight and the legend “Dem Sieger im Luftkampf” (To the Victor in Aerial Combat). The Ehrenbecher stood on four balled feet. Its height was approximately 190 mm; its inside diameter was 95.5 mm; its outside diameter was 96-98 mm; the base’s diameter (with writing) was 70 mm; its height was 14 mm; the ball feet had a diameter of 21 mm. The weight was about 318 grams.
Initially, the Ehrenbecher was awarded in three different metal compositions. First, it was awarded in .800 silver. Later, as silver supplies ran low, it was awarded in iron. During the three years that it was awarded, it came with an Urkunde (award document). As time went by, the required number of planes to be shot down in order to receive an Ehrenbecher was increased, just as it was for a PLM. Approximately 2,400 were awarded. At that point the goblet’s award was halted and only the document was awarded through the General’s office.
With that quick history of the Ehrenbecher, we now return to the star of our show: the glorious desk piece. At first glance, the piece’s marble portion looks like it was a cigarette/cigar ashtray. I discount that idea, however, as it has no slots on the edges to keep the cigarette or cigar in place. Research proved it to be a “Salver.” A Salver was a Victorian era item. In fact an item that allowed the dropping of calling cards in it’s interior. They might be found in an entry hall but in this case, it would have been placed on the desk of a well heeled officer to serve as a decorative piece and a recipient of calling cards!
The marble base measures 1 ½” x 8 ¼.” It is extremely high-quality. Its condition is as it was so many years ago when the proud owner took first took possession of it. Attached in the center are the two battling eagles in all their 3D glory. They clearly depict the fierceness of the battle, the triumph of the victory, and the despair of the vanquished. Each bird measures 5 ½” x 10,” and the pair together measure 6 ½” x 10.” The eagles are made of a high-quality bronze. Perhaps most exciting of all, each beak is made of ivory! This massive display weighs a whopping 8 pounds, 9 ounces.
I have a theory about the presentation. The Ehrengabe was the naval version of the Ehrenbecher. It was a statuette, with a similar 3D version of the battling eagles mounted on the wooden base. In the photographs of our offering, we are adding a photograph or two of the Ehrengabe so you can see what leads me to this conclusion. Our desk piece may well have belonged to a naval aviator rather than one from the Army. Whichever theory you prefer, this will add a major aviation piece to your collection. It is more unusual than the original, as well as a fraction of the price of an Ehrenbecher or Ehrengabe. krMay16