Iron Cross II Class, by L. Gottlieb, #138

SKU: 01.GTR.0101.111.39

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  • Iron Cross II Class, by L. Gottlieb, #138 Obverse
  • Iron Cross II Class, by L. Gottlieb, #138 Reverse
  • Iron Cross II Class, by L. Gottlieb, #138 Obverse
  • Iron Cross II Class, by L. Gottlieb, #138 Reverse
  • Iron Cross II Class, by L. Gottlieb, #138 Obverse
  • Iron Cross II Class, by L. Gottlieb, #138 Reverse
  • Iron Cross II Class, by L. Gottlieb, #138 Maker Mark


  • country
  • date of institution
    September 1, 1939
  • remarks
    PKZ: 138

Physical Description

For a long time, the maker with the PKZ number "75" remained unknown, and maker "138" was listed as Julius Maurer from Idar-Oberstein. However, in "The Iron Cross 2. Class" by Dietrich Maerz, the author has put forth a convincing explanation for a possible mix-up of numbers and makers. Since, with very few exceptions, PKZ numbers 34 to 111 list companies in alphabetical order (by last name), it is likely that 75, between Carl Maurer and Ernst L. Müller, was given to a company also starting with the letter M. It is also known that in May of 1940, two lists of early Iron Cross manufacturers were released within the space of just five days. The second list misses 16 manufacturers from the first list. The only manufacturer of the missing 16 with the letter M that produced the II Class Iron Cross is Julius Maurer.

In 2017, a II Class Iron Cross marked "75" was found in a paper package stamped with Julius Maurer's name.
Additionally, a letter from September of 1941 lists Julius Maurer as the producer of a shipment of 10,000 II Class Iron Crosses. It is inconceivable that a company that was listed as a producer of the Iron Cross as early as they were, especially producing in these quantities, would be assigned such a late PKZ number as "138".

But there exist crosses marked "138". If not Julius Maurer, who was the maker? Since on several occasions, "138" marked II Class Iron Crosses have been found in paper packages marked "Louis Gottlieb & Söhne, Idar-Oberstein", it seems this was the correct maker all along, and the only reason it wasn't acknowledged was the wrongful attribution of the "138" number to Julius Maurer. Furthermore, "138" marked II Class Iron Crosses use a Steinhauer & Lück frame design. It is much more likely that a company as early to the game and as prolific in Iron Cross manufacturing as Julius Maurer would have had its own design, while a smaller company entering the Iron Cross game at a later stage would have worked with a frame provided by Steinhauer & Lück (who provided frames and even cores to multiple smaller producers of the II Class Iron Cross). On top of this, Julius Maurer was given the relatively low LDO number "L/23", which is fitting for an early producer of Iron Crosses. It is unlikely that a company with a low LDO number would have been given a high PKZ number, and vice versa.

All things considered, it makes more sense to equate Julius Maurer with PKZ number "75" and Louis Gottlieb with "138" than the other way round.

Crosses by Louis Gottlieb & Söhne are always marked “138”. As has been noted, they are of the Steinhauer & Lück (S&L) design.


The Iron Cross was originally founded in 1813 and was considered Germany’s highest military decoration. On September 1st, 1939, Adolf Hitler renewed the Order of the Iron Cross and instituted the decoration in four grades, II Class Iron Cross, I Class Iron Cross, Knight’s Cross and Grand Cross.

The II Class Iron Cross was conferred upon military personnel who performed a single act of bravery in the face of the enemy or acted in a way that went above and beyond the call of duty. The II Class was the most commonly awarded Iron Cross during the Second World War, and today, it is the most commonly found and the least expensive of the Iron Cross grades.

This grade was suspended from a ribbon and it could be worn in three different ways: attached to the second button of the tunic; mounted alone or as part of a ribbon bar when worn with formal attire; or the ribbon could be worn by itself for everyday wear.

Award numbers are unknown and will likely remain so. Estimates place the numbers at 2.5 million at the lower end and 5.5 million at the higher end, with approximately 3.5 million being the most likely number. Crosses produced are estimated at around 5 to 6 million.

Women, mostly nurses, are known to have been awarded the II Class Iron Cross. However, the numbers are extremely low, and only a few dozen female recipients are known today.

The II Class Iron Cross is generally made of a silvered frame and an iron core painted black. Different materials have been used on occasion and will be covered where applicable.
Individual makers or their cross versions and variants are often distinguished by flaws and irregularities of the frame. Usually, the frame is oriented in a certain way. However, if it is misaligned, flaws can be situated on the “wrong” cross arm. Obverse and reverse of the frame can also be used interchangeably. The reader should keep this in mind when a particular flaw in a particular spot is mentioned.

Frames and cores of several makers share a similar design. This is due to the fact that the company of Steinhauer & Lück (S&L) is known to have manufactured frame and core dies for several smaller companies.

Not every II Class Cross features a maker’s mark, although, if there is one present it will generally be stamped on the ribbon ring. Each firm was allocated a manufacturing number to indicate which decorations they had produced. Firms that were licensed to produce official state awards were issued Lieferant Numbers by the Präsidialkanzlei des Führers, referred to as PKZ numbers. Some firms were licensed to produce private-purchase replacement awards and were issued LDO (Leistungsgemeinschaft Deutscher Ordenshersteller) numbers. LDO pieces were stamped with a maker’s code that had an “L/” prefix, while Präsidialkanzlei items were stamped with numbers without a prefix.
Unmarked crosses were manufactured between the beginning of the war and late 1942 or early 1943. At that time the PKZ requested all crosses to be numbered. LDO marked crosses were first produced in early 1941. However, II Class Iron Crosses with LDO numbers are actually relatively rare.
More than 60 companies are known to have produced the II Class Iron Cross, in varying quantities.

The standard size of the II Class Iron Cross is approximately 44.5 x 44.5mm, although there are versions that are larger and smaller. Along with numerous stickpin miniatures, there is a rare Prinzen sized cross that is around 30.5x33mm. In addition, a larger “Übergröße” (oversize) cross was produced by maker Frank & Reif and is around 47 to 48mm, closer in size to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. The Übergröße cross has a frame produced out of “900” silver. The original reason for these crosses being produced larger than standard ones is unknown.

There is a slimline variation of the II Class Iron Cross that is known as the “Schinkel-form” or “Schinkel” cross. All Imperial Iron Cross awards were modelled after the 1813 Iron Cross, which was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. When the Iron Cross was reinstated in 1939, some manufacturers used existing dies of 1914-style silver frames leftover from the First World War, resulting in crosses with a smaller center and narrower arms, and smaller, more delicate features. This practice was quickly stopped, as Hitler wanted the new Iron Cross to be larger in size. Examples of the 1939 Schinkel cross produced by various companies have been awarded until early 1940.

Due to the sheer number of different variants, the versions shown for each maker are just an approximation and not a definitive or conclusive list.


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  • Price

    $100 USD

  • Composition


  • Inscription

    Obv: 1939 Rev: 1813

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