That brooch, a peculiar antipode of the quite austere patriotic production typical to the “Iron times” of the Great War, was a personal gift presented by the Emperor of the German Empire and the King of Prussia Wilhelm II to ladies-in-waiting of the Prussian royal court. Generally speaking, it was neither a conventional honorary decoration nor an award, but rather a unique gift combining patriotic jewelry with a token of high regard and favor of the ruling monarch.
The adornment had complex construction with its central element being a miniature Prussian Iron Cross, Model 1914 measuring 17x17 mm. Each arm was manufactured separately of blackened iron plates; all the four were held together by a silver frame with polished edges. Royal Prussian silver crown was soldered to the upper arm of the cross, while the date of reinstitution of the order (“1914”) was placed on the lower arm. Each digit was made of silver, and they were held together by two miniature bars situated above and below. Circular golden medallion measuring 7 mm in diameter and showing bust of Wilhelm II facing right was superimposed on the centre of the cross. Medallion was rimmed by a wide silver ring encrusted with 28 small diamonds. The cross was framed with a wide circular laurel wreath made of gold, fixed to slightly wider flat gold ring measuring 25 mm in diameter by four rivets. Wide golden frame was attached to a reverse of the cross by another four rivets. In its turn, that cross-shaped frame was soldered to the above-mentioned gold ring. Interestingly enough that 8-carat, or 333 gold, being the minimum standard for gold in the German Empire after 1884, was used to produce golden elements of that royal gift. No hallmarks are found on the reverse of the brooch.
The brooch was worn attached to the gown either by horizontal pin with catching hook fixed to its reverse, or by golden suspension clip fastened to a reverse of the medallion’s upper part. Both methods required special instrument that was supplied together with a brooch in a presentation case.
The brooch without pin measured ca.4 mm in width and weighed 7 g approximately.
It was presented in a round but slightly truncated box measuring 59 mm in diameter, covered with white velvet. The brooch itself rested on a detachable white velvet cushion, under which miniature key and suspension clip made of gold were kept in special sockets. Inner part of the lid was covered with white silk bearing pompous maker’s mark with the name of manufacturer running in four horizontal lines: “Koch Frankfurt a/M. Baden Baden”. It was also found foil-stamped in gold on the bottom of the box.
Brooches were manufactured by Robert Koch, court jeweler of the German Empress and Queen of Prussia Augusta Viktoria. They were made within 1914-1917, but exact or even approximate number of pieces produced remains unknown as all the manufacturer’s archive perished in flames at the very end of the WWII, in 1945.