--ORIGINAL WORLD WAR I 1914/1813 PRUSSIAN IMPERIAL GERMAN IRON CROSS 2ND CLASS, EISERNES KREUZ 2, EK2, 16.9 GRAMS.
--3 PIECE SILVER ALLOY CONSTRUCTION W/ MAGNETIC IRON CORE.
The Iron Cross was awarded to recognise acts of heroism, bravery and leadership. In spite of its evident prestige it was a widely issued medal: almost six million were awarded during wartime, although by far the majority of these (5,500,000) were awarded to the lowest of three classes of the medal, the Iron Cross (Second Class).
Above this the Iron Cross (First Class) was issued to approximately 220,000 men; just five men were awarded the highest form of the Iron Cross, the Grand Cross (the Kaiser himself, Paul von Hindenburg, Erich Ludendorff, Prince Leopold of Bavaria and August von Mackensen). Hindenburg was subsequently awarded (during the German Spring Offensive of 1918) the only issued Star to the medal.
The Iron Cross is a black four-pointed cross with white trim, with the arms widening toward the ends, similar to a cross pattée. Frederick William III commissioned the neoclassical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel to design the Iron Cross after a royal sketch. It reflects the cross borne by the Teutonic Knights in the 14th century.
The ribbon for the 1813, 1870 and 1914 Iron Cross (2nd Class) was black with two thin white bands, the colors of Prussia. The non-combatant version of this award had the same medal, but the black and white colors on the ribbon were reversed. The ribbon color for the 1939 EKII was black/white/red/white/black.
Since the Iron Cross was issued over several different periods of German history, it was annotated with the year indicating the era in which it was issued. For example, an Iron Cross from World War I bears the year "1914", while the same decoration from World War II is annotated "1939". The reverse of the 1870, 1914 and 1939 series of Iron Crosses have the year "1813" appearing on the lower arm, symbolizing the year the award was created. The 1813 decoration also has the initials "FW" for King Frederick William III, while the next two have a "W" for the respective kaisers, Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II. The final version shows a swastika. There was also the "1957" issue, a replacement medal for holders of the 1939 series which substituted an oakleaf cluster for the banned swastika.
When the Iron Cross was reauthorized for World War I in 1914, it was possible for individuals who had previously been awarded an 1870 Iron Cross to be subsequently awarded another Iron Cross. These recipients were recognized with the award of the 1914 clasp featuring a miniaturized 1914 Iron Cross on a metal bar. It was also possible for a holder of the 1914 Iron Cross to be awarded a second or higher grade of the 1939 Iron Cross. In such cases, a "1939 Clasp" (Spange) would be worn on the original 1914 Iron Cross. (A similar award was made in 1914 but was quite rare, since there were few in service who held the 1870 Iron Cross.) For the 1st Class award, the Spange appears as an eagle with the date "1939" that was pinned above the Cross. Although they are two separate awards, in some cases the holders soldered them together.