A detailed and comprehensive guide on Germany's last officially made Pour Le Merite in the 1950's, this well known and historical documented Pour Le Merite made by Steinhauer & Lueck, Luedenscheid, Germany. This prestigious Order has become extremely collectable and is truly a fantastic investment as it is still very under priced.
There was a need after WWII to produce a genuine replacement Pour Le Merite for the WWI recipients of Germany's highest Gallantry Order awarded until 1918, an official replacement if you will for those German recipients who had lost, been stolen or sold their original Pour Le Merite just to survive the final destructive years of WWII Germany and after.
Steinhauer & Lueck, Luedenscheid, Germany received a German Government contract in 1957 to make a genuine replacement Pour Le Merite. There are still old catalogues in Germany picturing this exact Pour Le Merite, we will try to find a copy of the original 1950's catalogue to add to this guide.
First we would like to thank a world leading expert on the German Pour Le Merite Andreas M.Schulze Ising, who helped write this detailed guide and supplied us with valuable historical information. He is quite happy to answer any questions that you might have on the Pour Le Merite. His web site is called Imperial German Orders, Medals & Decorations Andreas M. Schulze Ising, his endless credentials are listed on his site under his contact information including articles published. Andreas M. Schulze Ising asked us to add this statement that he wrote below:************************
'With the new laws in 1957 the German Government allowed those brave citizens that had been decorated in previous wars to wear their medals and decorations with a new design. The Swastika was deleted from decorations awarded between the years 1939-1945.
Besides those Third Reich orders, medals and decorations of the earlier wars 1914-1918 were also obtainable again. Steinhauer & Lueck was authorized to produce and sell those medals to recipients entitled.
Besides the Knights Cross and German Cross one could, if eligible, also purchase the Pour Le Merite, Steinhauer & Lueck specifically manufactured those pieces in its very specific design.'**************************
As Andreas mentioned, each German maker of the Pour Le Merite added his own unique characteristics to his own design, as did Steinhauer & Lueck in the 1950's.
These 'S&L UNIQUE DESIGN FEATURES' are only found on an original Steinhauer & Lueck Pour Le Merite. The Order measures exactly 53.mm x 53.mm, the S&L trade mark connected letters 'UR' the 'UR' are always connected on all S&L PLM's, this was done on purpose as one of the main features to distinguish this particular German manufacturer from others. The next unique feature is the 'FLAT BOTTOM' of the Eagle and the lack of prominent 'FEET'. The 'EAGLES' are of an angular very distinctive shape.The letter 'L' has a space to the frames edge. The letters 'LE' have the correct spacing. Most importantly there is a very distinctive pattern on the 'BAROQUE SUSPENSION' the reverse side of the 'ENAMEL WORK' has a beautiful high 'PILLOW' effect, with the exquisite enamel work being German superior made, no pock marks, gaps, bubbles or any uneven surfaces. Also very important the 'WEIGHT' of this German Order is around '26. Grams' only. The colour of the enamel is a paler blue than a Godet PLM. The Order was made in bronze-gilt and there was also a solid silver-gilt special version marked 800 on the frame.
The original '1950's S&L PRESENTATION CASE' was just a plain blue case, not fitted, with no writing on the lid, and with just a plain black interior.
'WARNING FAKE S&L' we have noticed that someone has made a copy of the Steinhauer & Lueck Pour Le Merite and is selling them at around $600.USD on eBay USA, if you carefully compare all the unique S&L features listed above you will easily distinguish the genuine from the fake, the fake has no Pattern to the Baroque Suspension, the letter 'L' is touching the frame, the letters 'LE' do not have the correct spacing, the fake measures 55.mm x 55.mm when it should measure exactly 53.mm x 53.mm.
Then, there is the superior quality German workmanship one would expect of this Germany's highest gallantry Order. You cannot compare this superior German quality to that of the cheap fakes, the enamel workmanship is far superior to any post war fake on the market.
It is unknown exactly how many Pour Le Merite Steinhauer & Lueck produced in the late 1950's, we know that surplus stock of these Orders were sold to well known German dealers in the late 1960's.
Collector's of fine world Orders know what to look for and now you the reader of this guide does also. When you consider that an original Pour Le Merite manufactured before 1918 now sells for around $12,000.00 USD then this well known original Pour Le Merite made in the 1950's is an extremely inexpensive way to own a world famous original Pour Le Merite at a fraction of the price.
Two named awards exist and bear the Steinhauer & Lueck Pour Le Merite style: Otto Hersing's Pour Le Merite at the U-BOOT Archive and Ernst Junger's Pour Le Merite displayed at Haus Wildfingen. Given that each veteran survived WWII for some time (Ernst Junger was the last Pour Le Merite recipient to die in 1998) it is entirely possible that their awards were Steinhauer& Lueck Pour Le Merite.
This Order is one of our favorites, we are constantly looking for them worldwide, through auction sites and from dealers in Germany. There is still a real unique opportunity to add this genuine German made Pour Le Merite to your collection at a low price.
If you have any questions at all please don't hesitate to contact us, we will add more information about this Steinhauer & Lueck as we source it.