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Nice Bavarian Military Merit Order 4th or 3rd class with swords in brass and enamel. silvering or gilding has washed off and a small but minor chip on the reverse tip of the left cross arm does not take away from a very detailed miniature.
1905 - 1918
King Ludwig II. founded the Military Merit Order on July 19, 1866, to recognize those brave deeds done during war that could not be recognized through the already existing Military Max Josef Order. The order decoration’s design was borrowed from the extinct Order of the Palatine Lion.
The Order consisted initially of 5 classes. Grand Cross, Grand Commander, Commander, Knight Cross 1st and 2nd Class as well as the Military Cross.
The Design of the order consisted of a golden or silver blue enameled maltese cross with or without golden flames in between each cross arm. The avers center medallion featured a white enameled belt with the inscription “Merenti” enclosing a black enameled center plate with the crowned cypher “L” affixed. The reverse medallion featured the same golden white enameled belt with the foundation year “1866” enclosing a black enameled center plate with the golden Bavarian Lion affixed. The Grand Cross star was an eight pointed one featuring the enlarged cross with flames, the Grand Commander was a 6 pointed star showing the cross without flames. Only the Knight 2nd Class Cross and Merit Cross (in silver) did not have flames within their cross arms.
On the Prince Electors 70th birthday, 1891, swords for direct war merit were issued. Recipients from the 1866 and 1870/71 war were allowed to source those at their own expense.
1900, addition of the Officers Cross (without flames)
In 1905 the classes we reorganized to reflect the following scheme:
1st Class (sash cross with star, 6 pointed with flamed cross)
2nd Class with star (neck cross with star, 6 pointed no flamed cross, former Grand Commander)
2nd Class (former Commander)
Officers Cross (no flamed)
3rd Class (former Knight 1st)
4th Class (silver cross flamed replaced the former Knight 2nd) with and without crown
(Former Merit Cross obsolete)
Merit Cross 1st Class (Silver cross with enameled aver center, reverse in silver)
Merit Cross 2nd Class (complete silver cross)
The Merit Cross was further subdivided and visually modified in 1913. Now, golden first class with enameled aver center, silver second class with enameled aver center and copper third class. In 1913 also, the crown could be awarded to the 3rd Class.
1917 marks the year whereas the order crosses were all made from gilt silver and the Merit Cross from zink.
Grand Cross and 1st Class were eligible to be awarded with the Crown from 1918 on.
The order's chancellery finished it’s activities in 1921.
The order knows a few different ribbons, including a white ribbon with blue stripes for awards civilians, a blue ribbon with white stripes as peace ribbon just for the 1st class and analogue the Blue ribbon with blach and white stripes for war merit. Officials and Civilians would wear the decorations of the 1st class on a white framed, black blue ribbon with white center stripe, the same for the grand cross would be white with blue center stripe and black outside stripes.