The Prussian 1897 Centenary Medal (Zentenarmedaille) was officially titled the Medaille zur Erinnerung an des Hochseligen Kaisers und Königs Wilhelm I., des Großen, Majestät to honor the 100th Birthday of Kaiser Wilhelm I. It was established by Kaiser Wilhelm II (Kaiser Wilhelm I's grandson) through a Royal Order effective 22 March 1897 and was given to all active duty Imperial German military personnel and veterans of the wars of 1848, 1864, 1866, and 1870-1871. The recipients promptly dubbed it the Apfelorden (The Order of the Apple, due to it's size and color). Modern German collectors often call it the Zitronorden (The Order of the Lemon, again due to it's size and color and partly because they forget the name Apfelorden). It is interesting to note that any 1870-1871 Kriegdenkmünze (KDM or Franco-Prussian War Medal) with official clasp(s) should be with this medal as well since the clasp issue was after the Centenary.
The Centenary Medal is 4.0cm wide and made with bronze French cannons captured in the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War. The medal was designed by Professor Walter Schott and was made by the firm of L. Ostermann, Berlin (a well known manufacturer of medals). The obverse shows a raised relief profile portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm I with the inscription WILHELM DEM GROSSE DEUTSCHER KAISER KOENIG VON PREUSSEN (Wilhelm the Great, German Emperor and King of Prussia). The reverse has the raised relief inscription ZUM ANDENKEN AN DEN HUNDERSTEN GEBURTSTAG DES GROSSEN KAISERS WILHELM I. 1797-22MAERZ-1897 (In Rememberance of the Hundredth Birthday of the Great Emperor Wilhelm I. 1797-22 March-1897). A design of a laurel leaf spray, oak leave branches, crown, scepter, orb, Bible, and sword arcs from the 3:30 to 11:00 position. The original silk ribbon is plain yellow (representing gold) which varies in width from 3cm +/- .5cm (depending on the maker). Further details on the ribbon can be found at: http://reviews.ebay.com/Prussian-1897-Centenary-Medal-Ribbons_W0QQugidZ10000000003410918. A thick ribbon ring is attached to a smaller ring welded at the 12:00 position. Single examples of this medal typically sell for $30-$50 (rarely more), making it one of the lower priced officially issued Prussian military medals.
Copies are known and normally sell for almost as much as an original example. Most copies (typically cast) are made for collectors or re-enactors who require an example. Please review my copy medal guide http://reviews.ebay.com/Worldwide-Military-Medals-Copy-Medal_W0QQugidZ10000000001875117 and forgery medal guide http://reviews.ebay.com/Worldwide-Military-Medals-Forgery-Medals_W0QQugidZ10000000001875079 for a more detailed explanation. Jeweler's copies are known and are often accepted if they are verified contemporary - but many sellers do not make the distinction clear. Perhaps the most highly valued example is made of zinc (which has the distinction of being worth more than double of an original issue!!). Again, the best advice is: Buy only from a reputable dealer who specializes in Imperial German medals.
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