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Old 02-07-2019, 06:18 PM   #31
Don D.
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I'd like to stick with the Wagners if we could. The Rothes deserve their own thread imo.

I have another theory to toss out about the cross hatched eagles. Since we see crosses with one cross hatched eagle then can we assume that at some point during the war they had to rework the die? Perhaps as they switched from gold to silver the difference in metal hardness might have become a factor.
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:14 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don D. View Post
I'd like to stick with the Wagners if we could. The Rothes deserve their own thread imo.

I have another theory to toss out about the cross hatched eagles. Since we see crosses with one cross hatched eagle then can we assume that at some point during the war they had to rework the die? Perhaps as they switched from gold to silver the difference in metal hardness might have become a factor.
There were two dies. First set was used for gold pieces 1914-1916, and then for few hollow silver pieces (late 1916 - early 1917). Then a new set of dies was used for the solid silver-gilt crosses. These dies deteriorated as well, but were not reworked in any way, as very late 1918 awarded pieces show.

The cross hatched pieces shown here were never awarded during 1914-1918 period, and so they are not official.

Most of them are cast copies of original wagner pieces , or made post war during the 20’s.

Officialy awarded PLM are shown here http://www.medalnet.net/The_Pour_le_Merite.htm
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:28 PM   #33
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Even Andreas admits that his page is not all inclusive. I've owned a hollow silver gilt PLM and a solid silver gilt PLM as well as the cross hatched eagle PLM. Side by side they are all the same except for the cross hatching. Above we have a wartime issued PLM with one eagle showing cross hatching.
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Old 02-07-2019, 09:12 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Don D. View Post
Even Andreas admits that his page is not all inclusive. I've owned a hollow silver gilt PLM and a solid silver gilt PLM as well as the cross hatched eagle PLM. Side by side they are all the same except for the cross hatching. Above we have a wartime issued PLM with one eagle showing cross hatching.
Yes, that is true. Andreas admits that the list on his page is not inclusive.

However, the pieces are not the same! I own several 1914-1918 PLMs, and I can tell you that the cross hatched pieces shown here do no have the same level of detail or quality as period crosses. It is just not the same. One only needs to compare the feathers and the tails of the eagles....

Helmuth Bohm´s PLM is a period made cross. It´s quality and details cannot be compared to the so called cross hatched crosses shown here. Yes. It has one, and only one eagle that has been cross hatched. This was done manually. Dies were not modified to do this. The cross hatching most surely have occured after he received the awarded, probably years after 1918 (he died in 1933) No official PLM was awarded in a condition shown by the cross hatched examples exposed here.

With out any doubt some pieces might have been struck using the well damaged wagner dies (like your piece Don), but this happened post war.

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Old 02-08-2019, 08:00 AM   #35
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Then if I understand you correctly all cross hatched eagles were done by hand? Why would they do this? Why not modify the die?
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:13 PM   #36
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Quote:
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Then if I understand you correctly all cross hatched eagles were done by hand? Why would they do this? Why not modify the die?
Yes, I believe that was the case Don.

I will return the question. Why would they repair the dies?

Dies were beaten up by the end of the war. This is shown on late 1918 awarded pieces. This might have required perhaps more hand finishing by jewelers. Remember that eagles were individually hand finished. You will see no eagles alike on Wagner or Friedlander pieces. One just does not see awarded pieces, even very late examples, with such degree of deterioration as shown by these cross-hatched specimens.

The cost of fixing or creating new dies was certainly higher than hand finishing the pieces. Remember that eagles were already finished by hand anyway. There was no need for repaired or new dies for awarded pieces prior Nov 1918. Why would they need new or repaired dies after the war ended, particularly, after the order itself disappeared with the Kaiser’s abdication? What was the demand by official recipients for a second or a third pieces, or so called wearer copies?

Certainly, evidence suggests that the dies survived and were used to strike some pieces. The deterioration was obvious, and eagles needed to be reworked by hand. Yours is an example of such a piece. It is struck with original dies, but it is a post war piece nevertheless.

The thread starting piece seems to be like yours, but it is not. Jim (Zepenthusiast) exposed / encircled some of his concerns about this piece (which I share) in post #12.
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Old 02-08-2019, 04:52 PM   #37
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Thanks for the great discussion guys. I am still inclined to think that the cross-hatching may have been done by hand at the Wagner factory. If you compare Don's cross with mine, the cross-hatching is similar, but not exactly the same as it would be if the cross-hatching were on the dies. I agree about the higher quality of the awarded pieces. The polishing of the eagles on awarded pieces gives them a higher quality. Because of the flattening and shininess of the eagles, it looks as if they are completely different, but I believe it is due to the finishing of the awarded pieces. Of course, I am talking about only silver-gilt pieces made after the change in manufacturing rules in 1916. There very well could have been more than one set of dies because of wear, but the cross-hatched pieces are definitely silver-gilt, made by the rules established by the government in 1916. Why would Bohm have his cross-hatched later? That does not make sense to me. Why would the only known JHW cross be cross-hatched and polished, unless the cross-hatching occurred prior to the polishing in the finishing process. This also does not address the prevalence of cross-hatched examples in literature that are presented as authentic (if only retail and not awarded).
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Old 02-08-2019, 06:02 PM   #38
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I believe the need for wearers copies was pretty high. Recipients were required to wear the award. Note all the ones with enamel damage that are out there. I'm sure some recipients would have bought a second one for every day wear to preserve their awarded piece.
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Old 02-08-2019, 06:11 PM   #39
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I too feel many, if not most, PlM recipients purchased one or more copies during and/or after the war.

Would it have been possible for a non PlM awardee to buy a PlM after the war? I’m sure there were Medal collectors in the 20s-30s just like now.
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:06 PM   #40
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Another thought is that after cross hatching an eagle or two it was decided to do them all that way to keep them all the same.

We know about some very specific die flaws that started to appear on the award so if we track the progression of these we can build a timeline for the cross hatching.
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:57 PM   #41
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Interesting discussion. These types are also a mystery to me. I've held a couple and I have to agree with gmu that they are not WWI-era. The quality just wasn't there in the two I've seen.

Also, this has no real bearing here but the first photo in this post is a Dead Eye, not a Wagner type.
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:24 PM   #42
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Thanks for that, Streptile. Its's a Deadeye because the crown and the eagles' feet are slightly different- what else gives that away? This is a picture that was sent to me by David Edkins several years ago when he was showing me the texture of the ribbon and the oak leaves. His book was printed in the 1980's- we know much more about classifying PlM's now. I stand corrected. I included it because it looked to me to be a cross-hatched Wagner.
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:17 PM   #43
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I think there is an old adage that if multiple explanations are available for something, odds favor the most simple one being most likely correct. If you look through sequential changes in dated solid, single-press Wagner crosses from 1917-1918 in Prussian Blue, you can see the progressive loss of chest feather detail leading to what is being here described as the "polished" form. That is almost certainly die-wear at the point of greatest compressive force exertion and is likewise seen on the wings and thighs of the eagles as well (for the same reason). That detail declines in proportion to the increasing amount of die-flaw presence previously noted as helpful in determining authenticity of this type of PlM. The latter is not entirely reliable, however, when dealing with a copy cast directly from an original, as was the case in the fake I briefly possessed. [Sorry for delay answering your question, Patrick--the dimensions of that piece were reasonably spot-on for a solid Wagner, not surprising given having been cast from a mold obviously made from an original. It was slightly on the light side as I recall...will need to dig and find the actual numbers...but that wasn't really helpful as much of the weight of a PlM is in the glass/enamel and with chips/spalls that can vary quite a bit fake or original.]

By late 1918 the demand for PlM issue was relatively high vs the ability for available very skilled craftsmen to produce them and accordingly I think you can watch the finish-work decline even late wartime. Several breast-feather-effaced and cross-hatch applied 1918 crosses are shown in Prussian Blue, so that was not solely a post-war innovation or addition. The cross-hatching was a simple solution to relatively quickly and effectively restore the 3D glitter and suggest the appearance of chest feathers and you can see that it works pretty well when viewed from a short distance. Go back to the thread-starting images and you can see that works pretty darn well indeed. It would be all the more effective when newly gilded. I'd submit this was always the work of the primary finisher, which I suspect was limited to Wagner and Friedlander pre-November 1918, at which point neither may have been actually available for private purchase.

Big question...when did Wagner "go bust"? I'll toss out it may have been pretty fast post-war and my bet J.H. Werner acquired some of their remaining stock and finished + marked the mystery cross in question for a private sale in the 1920's...

Jim
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Old 02-09-2019, 04:27 PM   #44
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"By late 1918 the demand for PlM issue was relatively high vs the ability for available very skilled craftsmen to produce them and accordingly I think you can watch the finish-work decline even late wartime. Several breast-feather-effaced and cross-hatch applied 1918 crosses are shown in Prussian Blue, so that was not solely a post-war innovation or addition. The cross-hatching was a simple solution to relatively quickly and effectively restore the 3D glitter and suggest the appearance of chest feathers and you can see that it works pretty well when viewed from a short distance. Go back to the thread-starting images and you can see that works pretty darn well indeed. It would be all the more effective when newly gilded. I'd submit this was always the work of the primary finisher, which I suspect was limited to Wagner and Friedlander pre-November 1918, at which point neither may have been actually available for private purchase. "


Jim-your statement makes very good sense to me only, why the JHW initials if not intended for resale? For example J H Werner EKI,s. The JHW piece I once owned is the very same piece currently featured on e-medals site. Sometimes a source is worth consideration as I purchased the JHW piece in 1987 after it had been in the family since 1919. If this information is accurate, which I never had any reason to doubt, it would date pre 1919 considering the amount of honest wear/use presented overall. I have never seen another Wagner/Friedlander "JHW" marked piece and would love to see another.
When compared to my Friedlander, notice the bottom of the JHW eagle's chest where it meets the legs show very similar feather designs, note 7:00 & 1:00 eagles in particular.
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Old 02-10-2019, 12:45 PM   #45
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First comment, Erikn--I'm jealous!!! Beautiful pair of PlMs...

For the FR, note the halo of silver around the head of the 1:30 (obverse face) eagle--that is the overflow of the pressing and it was not filed away during hand finishing of the piece, very unusual to see that in my (admitted limited) experience, but it gives you a look at the appearance of a "mint" die-pressing. The detail is exquisite! It also illustrates the warning element for how the metal should appear on the cross body sides, as the demarcation and very thin/flat aspect of any residual metal along the line where the two dies met should look like this. Such a thin element was not difficult to file away entirely if effort were made to do so. By contrast, casting things tends to create a wider and more irregular/granular demarcation line if not artfully removed, and it is harder to do so.

I think you may have misunderstood me about J. H. Werner--my point was precisely that they marked it because they finished it for the purpose of retail sale, and all the more compelling that you have pretty much nailed down that occuring in 1919, when it would have had to be a retail sale! I'm thinking--though will have to go back through my photo library and Prussian Blue--that the edge finish is more perfectly "flat" than typical for W/FR work. You might see that yourself, actually, since you have a near-immediately-contemporary FR. That might be the sign of how Werner was the ultimate "finisher." Why not Wagner finish it, though? Anyone know their full 1920's story?
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