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This knight’s cross of the Order of the Zähringer Lion is made from two different types of gold, glass and enamel. This rather old cross from around 1860-70 is made from multiple segments. Avers and reverse cross arms alter in red and yellow gold, the floral elements are hand chased and expose the red gold from underneath yellow gold. The painting of the castle ruins are set into a backdrop with pink sky which is typical for that timeframe. The ribbon ring loop is the bulkier early type as well that is know from issue period decorations.
Absolutely stunning knight cross.
Grand Duke Karl of Baden founded the order to reward commoners as well as foreigners on December 26, 1812 without issuing statutes. Initial awards were made already in 1815, whereas the new Zaehringer Lion was broken down into three classes: the Grand Crosses, Commanders and Knights of the order. The Grand Duke himself was the grandmaster and the prince’s members by birth of the order.
Attempts to draft and issue formal statues were made in 1819. Finally, on June 25, 1840, statutes were issued by now Grand Duke Leopold. The order of the Zaehringer Lion now had four classes, as the Commander was split into a 1st and 2nd class with or without star. It’s motto was: ”Für Ehre und Wahrheit” (For honor and truth). To superimpose on special deeds an oak leaf cluster could be added to the order. Only the initial awards during the 1820th with oak leaf were different in design and showed the cypher of the Grand Duke “L” affixed to the three-leaf cluster.
Grand Duke Friedrich I. changed the statutes in 1866 to now split the Knight cross into two classes, the Knight 1st and 2nd class, therefore extended the order to five grades. He also added swords to the order for awarding the order for bravery. Swords on ring were added as well to show if a recipient was promoted within the order for deeds in bravery. This practice was only allowed until 1879. Afterwards decorations with swords could be worn with then later awarded non-swords decorations.
Recipients that were awarded the Karl-Friedrich-Merit-Order would wear the Zaehringer Lion with swords.
The Berthold Order was founded in 1877 as a higher grade to the Zaehringer Lion during his 25th Jubilee as ruler of Baden. The order therefore had now 6 grades. The Merit Cross was added in 1889. During the same year the golden collar chain was made an official grade even though awarded since 1868. On his 70th birthday, September 9, 1890, he split the Berthold Order away from the Zaehringer Lion Order.
The merit cross could be awarded on the ribbon of the Karl-Friedrich-Merit-Order if awarded for bravery.
The collar chain was made from gold and showed alternating lion and arabesque links. The Grand Cross worn on it was always worn with oak leaf.
The Cross of the order was a symmetrical cross made from green glass arms set in either gold or silver. An arabesque segment was placed in between either gold or silver cross arms to form a circular shape. The avers center shows the castle ruins of the Zaehringen Castle, the reverse of the lion on red enamel.
The Grand Cross star is eight pointed and hosts a center medallion consisting of a white enameled medallion ring showing the motto: “Für Ehre und Wahrheit” in gold terminated on the bottom with a green enameled laurel. The center shows the Zaehringer Lion facing to the right on red enamel.
The star of the Commander grade 1st class is rather elaborate in its design. Being four pointed, it showed the enameled green glass arms framed by golden borders within those arabesque segments in silver. The red enameled center medallion ring was framed in a golden border and shows the golden orders motto in termination by a green enameled laurel. The center itself shows the ruins analogous to the avers centers of all crosses.
The order was also awarded with diamonds.
The state of Baden switched away from using gold as a base metal for their order decorations after 1910. Decorations were either gilt or gold plated afterwards.