First Republic, Austrian Merit Order -
Grand Cross First Class with Eagle. Cross, in silver gilt and enamels, 48x55mm, unmarked, of very fine quality manufacture, extremely fine condition. Mounted on a full length of original sash. Star, in silver, silver gilt and enamels, 95mm, maker marked on reverse "Anton Reitterer, Wien". Of very fine quality manufacture, extremely fine condition. Extremely rare set of insignia, only five Grand Cross First Class with Eagle awarded, as follows: Dr. Kurt Schuschnigg, Austrian Bundeskanzler, in 1936; Benito Mussolini, in 1936; Julius Gombos von Jakka, in 1936; Dr. Justinian Seredi, in 1937; Dr. Koleman Daranyi, in 1937 (the last three Hungarian recipients). One of the recipients, Italian Duce Benito Mussolini, was a major factor contributing to the institution of this Order, when he refused to accept Austrian Golden Merit Decoration First Class (cross with red enamel) from Austrian delegation, as this Order "was intended for Ministers" and therefore not suitable for Duce. As Mussolini was not eligible for the Grand Cross of the Austrian Merit Order (black enameled cross) intended for Presidents and Heads of the States, Austrian leadership, in order to satisfy Duce, made a decision to establish the Grand Cross First Class with Eagle, a grade just below the Grand Cross of the Austrian Merit Order (black enameled cross). Needles to say Duce was satisfied with this outcome and accepted the award in 1936.