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Laurel Leafs and Swords

The Grand Duke of Oldenburg issued swords for military personnel quite early compared to other German states on February 11, 1856 after a hearing with the Orders capital on January 17, 1856. The actual swords crossed through the middle of the insignia or were mounted through the middle of the star. A promotion into a higher grade for service/merit in peace time triggered so called swords on ring, with crossed swords mounted between the cross and the crown of the insignia respectively on the ring above the cross and above the medallion on a given star. The practice of awarding swords for bravery during World War I ceased due to awarding the Prussian Iron Cross and the Oldenburg Friedrich August Cross instead. Only from 1917 on the practice of awarding swords was resurrected. To do so a potential recipient had to have received a Prussian house order with swords (Pour le Merite, Red Eagle Order, Crown Order, House order of Hohenzollern, etc). One had to be further affiliated to or fulfill the following requirements as well:


a) be citizen of the grand duchy of Oldenburg

b) a member of the Oldenburg Regiments at the day of the declaration of war (Infantry Regiment No 91, Dragoon Regiment No 19 or 1st detachment of the Field Artillery Regiment  No 62)

c) those that went to war with those two above mentioned regiments but moved to other duties during the war

d) those that obtained the right to wear the uniform of those two regiments, still in service or inactive to those regiments.


Based on those rules, awards were given  to "foreigners" in 1919. Sword decoration of this kind would be promoted together with an advancement into a higher class. The so called "Swords on Ring" were made obsolete.


Towards the very end of World War I on September 18, 1918, the laurels were issued. The grand duke was presented with this extension to his house order on September 12 and with an actual draft and prototype on September 14 by Orders Secretary Meyer despite his verbal vetoing.


Naturally all the above mentioned decorations are extremely rare. This finds proof with the following table showing the results of a 1919 conducted inventory of living recipients and statistics of order decorations awarded from 1839 to 1919:


Class 1839-1917 1918 1919 established number of living recipients
Grand Cross with golden Crown 277   102
  with swords 14   4
  with swords on ring 4   4
  with swords and laurel leafs   1 1
  with diamonds 2    
Grand Cross with silver Crown 584 5 244
  with swords 16   8
  with swords on ring 21   9
  with swords and laurel   1 1
Grand Commander 608 2 260
  with swords 13   5
  with swords on ring 17   5
Commander 1115 6 496
  with swords 32 5 12
  with swords on ring 24   6
  with swords and laurel   2 2
  with diamonds 16   4
Officers Cross 323 5 252
  with swords 8 1 8
  with swords on ring 5   5
  with swords and laurel   1 1
Knight Cross 1st class 717 8 464
  with swords 60 6 27
  with swords on ring 23   6
  with swords and laurel   2 2
Knight Cross 2nd class with crown 1225 9 729
  with swords 229 18 139
  with swords on ring      
Knight Cross 2nd class 299 10 213
  with swords 19 20 35


Dr. Kurt Gerhard Klietmann published in the early year of medal collecting a series of books and designated a part of the House order of Oldenburg. It shows some black and white plates with the actual decorations. Among those are images of the knight cross 1st class with swords and laurel leafs:


Oldenburg Knight 1st Class with swords and laurel leaf

Oldenburg Knight 1st Class with swords and laurel leaf


Looking closely at the image one will see the skewed J on the reverse upper cross arm in "17 Jan. 1755". With only two awards an absolute rarity amongst the imperial German order decorations. May the reader compare the image with the following piece:


Oldenburg Knight 1st Class with swords and laurel leaf

Oldenburg Knight 1st Class with swords and laurel leaf


Following are a few images of more extremely rare laurel and sword decorations for your enjoyment. Only Knauer in Oldenburg was authorized to manufacture the laurel pieces and probaly made a small number of each class. It is imperative that all have exactly 17 leafs per laurel twig in different sizes for the different grades. All decorations at that time should be made of gilt silver due to the war savings effort.


Oldenburg - Swords and Laurel Leafs

              Knight 1st class                        Grand Commander                Grand Cross with Silver Crown

Oldenburg - Swords and Laurel Leafs


Following a comparisons between and Grand Cross with Silver Crown and swords and the exact same with added laurel leafs:


Oldenburg - Silver Grand Cross

Silver Grand Cross

Oldenburg - Silver Grand Cross


  © A. Schulze Ising, IV/13

© 2005