This is a first time offering from Der Rittmeister Militaria. It is the Duchy of Braunschweig’s 1914 War Service Cross 1st Class (Kriegsverdienstkreuz) in the very rare prinzengroße size. In fact, it is the first of its type that I have ever seen in nearly fifty years of collecting. I was VERY pleased to acquire it. The literal translation of prinzengroße is “prince-sized.” In the 18th and 19th Centuries it was a common practice for nobles’ or royal officers’ sons to wear uniforms like those worn by their fathers. These young men were also permitted to wear the decorations that their fathers had earned. The most common of that era were the 1813 and 1870 Iron Crosses 1st Class. The smaller-sized decorations made sense from a proportional and visual standpoint. Full-sized decorations were not to scale.
This size continued to be popular during WW I, but on the winners’ full-sized uniforms as an affectation. Prinzengroße-sized 1914 Iron Crosses 1st and 2nd Class became more common, as were some flight badges. To find one from another state is a real prize. The Duchy of Braunschweig offered an equivalent to the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class: the War Service Cross 1st and 2nd Class. [It is interesting to note that Braunschweig’s 2nd Class War Service Cross is considerably smaller than the 1st Class, which is similar in size to the Iron Cross 2nd Class. So, the War Service Cross 2nd Class could be considered a prinzengroße size.
The cross we are offering today measures 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4.” It has every bit of the full-sized version’s detail: a crown, Braunschweig Herzog Ernst August’s “EA” cypher, and 1914. The cross’s reverse features a fine, sturdy pin and clasp.
The decoration is in excellent condition and would make a great addition to your collection. It also would round out a collection that already features a full-sized issued piece and the two 2nd Class variations (three if you count the difference of ribbons for non combatants) award. Of course, this is a privately-purchased example. Although it is NOT hallmarked, it probably came from a Braunschweig jeweler.