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This was the highest Prussian military award (for other ranks), sometimes known as the "Pour le Mérite for Unteroffiziere and Mannschaften". Awarded only to non-officer grades. Established in February 1864 for military valour and ceased at the end of World War I. The decoration was orginally all gold, but by mid 1916 gold was replaced by silver with a gold finish. Most originals found have a silver appearance with only slight traces of gold. Not to be confused with the Militär Ehrenzeichen I. Klasse, which was identical, but in silver.
Recipients received a special pension at the end of their service. From 1914 till 1918 1.770 crosses were awarded.
Around 400  recipients died during World War I, 21 of whom were with the Air Service. The last surviving holder of the Militärverdienstkreuz, Offizierstellvertreter Karl Heinzmann, died on 24. April 1990 at the age of 101 years.
Many examples on offer recently are post 1918 copies or duplicates. Originals should have a "W" mark on the bottom cross edge. One of the rarest Prussian military decorations. The price nowadays for an original example with case and documents would be around 3.000 Euros upwards, for a gold example much more, as these were only made till beginning of 1916.

ratisbon's | Preußen - Goldenes Militär Verdienstkreuz | DISCOVER GENUINE  MILITARIA, ANTIQUES & COINS

This example is certainly a post-WW1 duplicate, as worn, probably fired-gilded bronze. Most apparent is the thin ring loop.

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verdienst-kreuz-vornex.jpgGoldenes) Militär-Verdienstkreuz. Miniatur, Anfertigung der Firma J. Godet  & Sohn in Berlin, Buntmetall vergoldet, an Trageschleifchen, mit  Reversknopf mit Herstellerbezeichnung.

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The original cases were covered in green leather, the base lined with purple velvet, the cartoned edge was gilded, the lid with white silk.

Preussische Orden

Militär-Ehrenzeichen I. Klasse (Silver)

Brandenburg-Preußen Militär-Ehrenzeichen 2. Klasse 1864-1866 Wilhelm I.  1861-1888. Sehr schön - vorzüglich | MA-Shops

Militär-Ehrenzeichen 2. Klasse (Silver)

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Examples: Internet photos

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Further details added

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