General Honorary Award was instituted on June 05, 1841 by the fourth king of Hanover Ernst August I (05.06.1771 – 18.11.1851) who reigned from 20.06.1837 till 18.11.1851 on the day of his 70th anniversary in two versions: for military personnel and civilians.
General Honorary Award for Military Merit (Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen für Militärverdienst) was issued to NCOs and other ranks for excellent merits during their military service (“für ausgezeichnete militärische Verdienste”).
An obverse had a monogram of the king “E.A.R.” standing for “Ernst August Rex” topped by a royal crown.
A reverse bore a central inscription “Military Merit” (“Kriegerverdienst”) in capital letters running in two lines within a laurel wreath tied by a ribbon at its bottom.
General Honorary Award for Military Merit was worn on a silk white ribbon with two wide yellow stripes closer to its edges.
General Honorary Award for Civil Merit (Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen für Zivilverdienst) was issued to Hanover subjects, civilians as well as lower government servants for distinguished civil service.
An obverse was similar to General Honorary Award for Military Merit.
A reverse was inscribed “Service for Homeland” (“Verdienst ums Vaterland”) in capital letters running in three lines within an oak wreath tied by a ribbon at its bottom.
General Honorary Award for Civil Merit was worn on a silk black and white ribbon with a thin vertical central yellow stripe and a thin vertical black stripe at the edge of the white portion.
Circular silver medal with a loop for ribbon suspension was
Close dynastic ties between Hanover and the Great Britain had an obvious impact on design of the medal or, to be more precise on the way those awards were personalized: unlike other German medals each General Honorary Award issued before 1860 carried an initial of the name and a surname of a holder engraved on its edge. Other sources indicate that full name of a holder and his rank or designation were engraved until 1860 and since then just an initial of the name and a surname.
Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen was awarded from 1841 till 1866, the year of the annexation of Hannover by the kingdom of Prussia (September 20, 1866). Nevertheless decorations continued even afterwards and those were authorized by the fifth and the last king of Hanover Georg V (Georg Friedrich Alexander Karl Ernst August, 27.05.1819-12.06.1878) who reigned from 18.11.1851 till 20.09.1866 and went into exile in 1866.