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    Book on Medal Ribbon bars

    Has anyone seen "German Military Ribbon bars 1914-1957" ?

    I've just ordered my copy but as its published by Schiffer I'd guess it must already be available in the States. Lovely picture of Rommel on the cover.

    Just hoping it does justice to the miniature medal bar devices.



    I browsed through the book earlier, and it looked really informational. Not quite the caliber of Iron Time, but looked like a real good reference to me.



      I have finally obtained a copy of Reverend Hayden's new book.

      There are serious flaws, beginning right away with the title, which is misleading. This is NOT a book covering ribbon bars 1914-1957, but rather (with the exception of several basic WWI photos) only from 1934-1957+. There is NO coverage of ribbon bars before the Third Reich Period, and indeed common, ordinary Imperial era awards are not identified (p 60 etc etc ). In fact, there are less than 40 ribbon bars pictured at all, of which 2 are illustrated as repros, and I would say another 7 are bad.

      Still on the cover, the featured "Rommel" ribbon bar is NOT in fact "the one shown in the photo." While it might be "a" Rommel bar, the swords to the Württemberg Friedrich Order are silver (not the correct gold as shown in the photo portrait's bar), the Hindenburg Cross swords do not match the others (or the photo), and from the HIGH, out of line placement of the eagles, and Prague bar, I suspect this is a hand made mock up of the awards, probably using all original ribbons and devices, but on brass-brass-brass backing with hand drilled holes, rather than stamped steel with all device holes level--as IS shown in the photo. (Take the edge of a piece of paper as a ruler--the prongs behind each device must line up with each other in the central hole pre-stamped in each space of original ribbon bar metal backing stock. The portrait photo passes, the "Rommel" bar veers off from Hindenburg, the two eagles, and Prague bar.)

      P 21 bottom--the Wehrmacht Long Service awards are NOT 25 & 18, but 12 & 4. This is a fundamental error and one which is constantly repeated. Correctly: 2 gold = 25 & 12, 2 silver = 18 & 4, gold & silver = 12, silver alone = 4. This is actually quite a nice bar, 1942 regulations, ending with a misidentified WW2 Hungarian Merit Order with Swords.
      P 26-top bar has a lone improper 12 without a 4, bottom bar shows all the signs of being repaired or replaced tab backs (WM ribbons don't match, etc). P 29 lower bar--hard to imagine how this could be original to any real recipient (flat top/bottom SS runes are highly dubious--I can buy them from one of the major purveyors of these bad bars at our quarterly regional militaria shows for $5. He, at least, is not selling his handiwork as originals.) P 30 lower--utter fantasy preposterous parts piece--absolutely impossible--see below. P 34 top: combination difficult to accept to any real recipient with non-combatant KVK, and like the earlier "SS" Spanish Civil War bar--I have never seen the combatant's Spanish Campaign medal in wear on a German ribbon bar without swords device. (Sorry if this tips off future fakery!)

      P. 34 bottom LOOKS odd, placing 41/42 RCM ahead of WWI decorations, but is in fact shortlived 1942 regulations. P 35 is incorrect precedence--Sudeten before long services, but is probably original, and period mismounted. Those sorts of things happened.

      Odd mounting order and strange combinations are not themselves proof of bad bars, but a combination like that on p 30 bottom is.

      This recipient (what I call a "shoot on sight" "Where Eagles Dare" horror) was, according to what we "read" from the bar, a NONcombatant (EK2) in WW1, with a FANTASY Prussian Red Eagle Order peacetime with silver (!!) swords (which did not exist, so could not be worn, but if it did, would have required a person Captain or higher, AND incorrect color device, too), yet this purported NON-combatant received a Württemberg Friedrich Order (incorrect silver rather than gold swords) and an Austro-Hungarian Leopold Order with combat swords which was normally granted only to full Colonels and Major Generals (for capture or defense of a fortress, breaching an enemy's lines and holding his position, etc!). Yet this "1918 hero noncombatant General" had only 4 years Third Reich CUSTOMS long service in 1939, at about age 70+...!!!!!!!!!

      Why Rev. Hayden decided to call the classic old Bavarian/South German (there were "northern" fans of the style, but it is found primarily in Baden, Württemberg, and Bavaria) double folded ribbon bar style "Austrian," when they only could have picked this style after 1938 (before that wearing 40mm clip on single ribbons) is a total mystery. "Austrian" is totally wrong as a designation of this GERMAN style.

      The brief section on repros is laudable, and the sections on lapel bows and post-WW2 versions are also good. The 40 photo portrait illustrations tend to be repetitive and feature 2 and 3 ordinary ribbons in most of them.

      There were other forms of ribbon bar--the large rhomboid flat Prussian "Old Style" bars worn before 1915 (no hooks on back) and the "full size" Bavarian bars, also worn before, during, and after WWI with hooks or clips to detach the awards, and small, usually sewn on rhomboids favored by the navy, that should have been included. But these could only be expected in a volume which ACTUALLY covered the period 1914-33, which--despite its title--this slender volume does NOT. This is unfortunate, given the extremely limited number of Third Reich ribboned awards, and the unlikeliness of any long Third Reich period bar which does not contain Imperial era awards.

      Perhaps color ribbon charts would have been too much for a small book of this size, but many more of the ribbon devices could have been shown. Many of these devices are being faked, so shots of originals and fakes would have been instructive.

      If this sounds unduly critical, I DO think this book has value. It is a good first effort, but would be much improved in an expanded second edition with the clunkers removed and much more detail added, really approaching the missing scope suggested by the title.

      Anyone reading these Forums knows that as far as medal and ribbon bars go, I am a "zero tolerance" guy. With fake, fantasy long bars making up probably 2/3, at least, of the public market, every effort must be made to expose them and permanently remove them from commerce. No one is perfect, and I don't mean to belittle either the author or his contributors by pointing out individual mistakes in a worthwhile effort, or making suggestions on improvements needed.

      Alerting collectors to the fakes problem is commendable, and Rev. Hayden will have greater impact than my lone voice howling in the wilderness.

      But please, in the second edition, get rid of dubious pieces that only confuse those who do not yet know how to "read" what a bar tells them!


        Here are just two examples of the sort of ribbon bars which might have been in this book, but aren't--

        The first bar ("Spange Blood Order") shows a 1914 Iron Cross 2nd Class with 1939 re-award bar, a Bavarian Military Merit Order or Cross on combatant ribbon (the gold swords here are probably meant to represent a MMC 3rd's bronze swords--gold was often used in that manner then, incorrectly), WWI Honor Cross for Combatants (aka Hindenburg Cross--note that the swords here are also gold and not correct bronze--a style in wide favor as showing greater contrast with the dark ribbon), Third Reich 25 Years Civil Service Cross (WWI military time was counted), NOT the March 1938 Austrian Anschluss Medal--this is the 1923 BLOOD ORDER (year after year regulations forbade ribbon bar wear--which indicates how often the regulations were flouted! This bar is on Luftwaffe gray backing--probably worn on a Fliegerbluse without the pocket flap needed for CORRECT wear), Sudeten Annexation Medal, Westwall Medal.

        Blood Order ribbon bars are frequently faked, virtually always with a silver Feldherrnhalle building facade device. Some of those WERE original period contrary-to-regulations devices. Most are crudely cast fakes. Most commonly, the Blood Order fakes are found on gew-gawed up "SS" ribbon bars--except that unlike naval reefer jackets and Luftwaffe flying blouses, SS and Waffen SS tunics had upper patch pockets, from the right flap of which this ribbon was correctly--and distinctively--worn. A "ribbon bar" for such personnel would have been preposterous--but not to greedy fakers or ignorant buyers.

        The second ribbon bar ("Customs") was worn by a former Prussian NCO or imperial navy Petty Officer who became a member of the Customs Service:

        These are: Iron Cross 1914, Mecklenburg-Schwerin or Mecklenburg-Strelitz war ribbon for Friedrich Franz Cross 2nd or Cross for Distinction in War, Lu"beck Hanseatic Cross, WWI Honor Cross for Frontfighters, Prussian Long Service award, Third Reich 25 Years Civil Service Cross, and Third Reich Customs Service Long Service Cross with regulation--but quite rare--embroidered mini-device. In this particular case, since the ribbon bar came with its matching fullsize medal bar, the 2nd ribbon was for Schwerin, and the first "blank" long service was the Prussian XV Years Service Cross.

        Imperial military long service awards were worn WITH NON-military Third Reich long service awards. If the former Imperial holder was later recalled for WW2 service, he exchanged his old award(s) for the Wehrmacht equivalent(s), while wearing any other long service awards as well(for combinations like Wehrmacht 12 & 4 with a Civil Service 25, actually being an old XII and the Third Reich cross). By a unique fluke of regulations, members of the German Customs Service OFFICIALLY "double dipped." The Civil Service Crosses, created in 1938, were awarded before creation of the 1939 Customs cross,which--quite peculiarly--was ALSO awarded to civil servants already recognized earlier for much longer service!

        For some Imperial types, not touched upon in the book by Reverend Hayden, see the Imperial Forum.


          Here is another example of a Third Reich ribbon bar style, half-height, showing some interesting devices. This style of ribbon bar is often found with brass backing, brass pin, and STAMPED brass hook, whereas generally all three parts in brass (if the backing is hand drilled with "wiggly" devices not in a line with the center, and with snipped sheet brass hook)on a full height bar would indicate a fake. This double row of bars is original--

          Upper row--Iron Cross 2nd 1914, 1939 War Merit Cross 2nd with Swords, WWI Bavarian Military Merit Order 4th Class with Crown and Swords, Wu"rttemberg Friedrich Order-Knight (1st Class) with Swords, Baden Order of the Za"hringen Lion-Knight 2nd Class with Swords and Oakleaves, Austro-Hungarian "war ribbon" (Franz Joseph Order-Knight), WWI Honor Cross for Combatants.

          Lower row--Luftwaffe 25 Years Service Cross, Luftwaffe 12 Years Service Medal, 1937 Red Cross or 1939 Volkspflege Decoration with miniature device "Kleindekoration" for the Commander neck grade, 1897 Wilhelm I Centenary Medal, WWI Turkish War Medal.

          This unique combination is traceable to Luftwaffe medical Lieutenant General (Generalstabsarzt) Professor et Dr. phil. Ernst Koschel (1875-1961). From January 1916 on he was Chief Medical Officer of the German Air Forces (Luftstreitkra"fte), retiring in 1920 to private and civil air medical practice, as well as being a Lufthansa physician. He rejoined the Wehrmacht in 1935, serving as Chief Medical Officer for Flying Personnel Examination in Berlin until retiring in 1944.

          Notice the large swords for his early KVK2 and on the Hindenburg Cross--representing swords placed through the crosses' centers. Two of the three WWI Orders have smaller swords, representing awards from the suspension ring. The Baden "cabbage" made larger swords impossible. After the 1938 Anschluss, Austria was considered just another German state, and its awards were moved from last place "foreign" to among other German awards, depending on wartime, peacetime, etc. His Wehrmacht long service awards replaced his old imperial XXV Cross.

          The Red Cross/Volkspflege device is particularly popular with crude forgers these days, being a chunky cast emblem with painted swastika. Contrast this with the soft, finely struck fire gilt original here, which has delicate raised black enamel on the tiny swastika arms. There was also a similar device with rays for the Star grade Red Cross/Volkspflege awards.

          Doctor Koschel's large group, including uniform and medals, was sold at last fall's Max Show. This insignificant remnant was passed over by the group splitters there, bought by a midwestern dealer, and obtained by me from him at our quarterly regional show in October, saving the complete double row from being split apart. Together, the two rows make identification of the "anonymous" original owner possible--split and he would have had his identity lost.


            Hi Rick

            I just have to say that this was one off the best and most informative post I ever read on this forum.

            Just super.

            Peter v L



              Rick is amazing, isnt he? From here on out he shall be solemnly refered to as "The Ribbon Bar guy".

              Well done, Rick. You really need to write a book about ths stuff, you know?

              Accidentally offending people on the internet since 1997



                I agree this book had been a great opportunity, missed. As ever, high production values from Schiffer, but contents too limited and too vague.

                I got your message and will contact you direct re your idea.



                  For some temporary examples of BAD ribbon bars, check out the following examples from the same eBay dealer, who always seems to have a steady supply of them. All that sooty motor oil must be quite hazardous!

                  #1160204810 displays the meandering hand drilled device holes typical of these fakes--use a piece of paper to line up where the center row of stamped holes SHOULD be. Can't do it. They are ALL over. Third ribbon has a device which could never be found on that ribbon, 4th (Austrian WWI Troop Cross) ribbon IS possible--but never in that position to a GERMAN (as this purports to be), the Westwall and Sudeten medals are in reversed order, and the nice little Turkish Liakat medal with sabers bar device is missing any ribbon next to it for the lower Turkish War Medal. Other than that!...

                  #1160203676: ah, ANOTHER "SS" bar. 4th ribbon in for the "1923 Blood Order" is a fake--that is a new ribbon, regardless of age (or lack of it) of the Feldherrnhalle device--the stripes are wrong. The 1937 Red Cross Medal is a nice touch--in the wrong mounting order. A 12 Years SS Service--with no NSDAP 10--no thank you. And again, we have the 1939 Memel medal mounted incorrectly in front of a Sudeten with Prague bar and mini device. I can see the hand snipped brass hooks on these, brass pins, and brass backings, without reverse photos....

                  Funny how these are now all covered with black soot, isn't it? Such a waste of the parts ribbons that ARE still made out of original stock...

                  Examples like these are simply LAUGHABLE, if you know Imperial era ribbons, correct devices, and proper mounting precedence and award regulations. They do NOT "look good" as foolish buyers apparently think, shelling out large sums of cash for preposterous items like these.


                    NEW PARTS FRAUDS ALERT!!!!!

                    In the last week or so I have seen a flood of internet fakes all across the USA of two and three ribbon bars. The ribbons appear to be original, the devices are nothing more exotic than WW2 type hollow stamped swords. The metal backings are old originals. Even the shoddy "wool waste" type cloth backing looks OK. But--

                    Many are IMPOSSIBLE combinations like a WWI award, (NO WWI HONOR CROSS,) and a WW2 award.

                    These are obviously being mass produced from yet another source of old stock. Unless some of these ribbons are new bright blue flashing fakes, it has now reached a stage where dirt-common combinations like a KVK2 with Swords and Russian Front Medal must now ALSO be gone over with a fine toothed comb.

                    Small, ordinary bars like these were previously beneath any commercial incentive to fake. Beware!!!

                    Check out the Association website, which has many Imperial ribbons in ribbon bar size illustrated.

                    This most recent surge in pitifully ordinary fake bars may be the final indignity in ruining collecting ribbon bars. These sort of bars OFTEN show up by the cardboard box full, still being taken, unissued, out of German basements. They were produced by the hundreds of thousands and many DO remain in mint, never used condition, so dealers selling boxfuls of the new fakes can plausibly present the same scenario.

                    Know your dealers! But most of all--KNOW YOUR STUFF. If it weren't for the money being wasted, a lot of the fakes are laughable!


                      Here are just some examples of Imperial period ribbon bars not covered in the book, showing a variety of styles from Bavaria.
                      Attached Files


                        To "spread the joy," two scans of multiple Third Reich ribbon bars have been posted over on Medals Forum under "Ribbon Bar 3." Most of our members seem to belong to both spots, and for those who don't, have referred them over to us here.



                          Great comments and pictures both here and in the other forum. I was also disappointed in the ribbon book and tried to contact the author through the Ruptured Duck without any success. I have studied ribbon bars for some time and always lacked reference material, particularly on pre Third Reich awards. The ribbon chart on the site is very useful but when I printed it for reference half of the right hand row is not on the printed page. Is it possible to adjust this so it would print what you see on the screen?


                          Gordon Craig


                            Gordon--the only way I (non-techie) know to get around that is instead of hitting the "print" button on your screen, go up to "file" in the corner, then change "page setup" from regular letter "portrait" to wider than tall "landscape" and try printing from up there, not the print screen button.

                            That may or may not work with whatever computer system you've got.



                              Thanks for the suggestion. I thought that I had tried that but I guess not. Sure worked well this time!


                              Gordon Craig


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