Tuesday 7 February 2012

German National Prize for Arts & Sciences Dress Copy

German National Prize for Arts & Sciences Dress Copy.
Instituted on 30th January 1937
Rarity – Extremely rare
Known Makers – Unmarked

This is similar in design to award piece having a sunburst that measures 98 mm.  This sunburst plate is hand produced with the bursts being hand cut.  At the centre is a 55 mm raised circle.  To this point in the quarters, are positioned four gilded eagles with down swept wings which are die stamped.  On to the raised circle is positioned a further circle that has a hand raised beaded inner and outer edge.  Into the tramline are set forty rose cut white sapphires.  Between each claw is a space that has small lines engraved.  There is a bright polished inner plate and over this is positioned a further circle with the inscription in hand produced letters, that starts with a star, 'FÜR . KUNST . UND . WISSENSCHAFT.'  At the centre is an orange-red enamelled plaque on to which is placed the head of Athena.  This head is slightly different to that employed in the award piece, being flatter in construction.

The reverse shows fourteen rivets and a large hinge with a large bellied pin and a retainer at the top.  Under this on the example used in this description, is a jeweller's scratch number, 'IV'.  On the upper edge of the pin is stamped the silver content 935.  There is a large 'C' form hook at the base of the star.

The Master Jeweller, Keith Thompson, had the opportunity of thoroughly inspecting a second example and found that the component parts were all stamped with the same small number, indicating that it had been produced to a conformed pattern and a dot code was employed for the correct assembly of each of the individual pieces.  His professional view was that the two pieces he inspected had been produced by a jeweller.  The purpose of this type of badge is unclear, as is its pedigree.  The example used for the description had been returned soon after the end of the Second World War by a senior member of the Allied Control Commission who had obtained it from an important German dignitary.  It had remained in the family of the officer and was given to his son Lt. Col. David Maitland-Titterton.

There are a number of conclusions that can be drawn from its existence, namely that the cost of the awarded pieces was so great the further bestowals could have been envisaged in this form.  The weight of the first form was so great, as has already been stated by Albert Speer, as was the cost of production that a lighter weight piece would have been more acceptable to the German government.  Display pieces were required for the major museums and this pattern could have been used for this propaganda exercise.  It could be that all of these purposes were conjoined to produce a necessity in the refinement of the award.  Two prototypes are known to exist produced by Professor Herbert Zeitner.  These pieces had settings of rubies that followed closely the setting style employed on this piece. 

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