Small miniature silvered metal cross pattée with laurel wreath between the arms, with ribbed loop for ribbon suspension; the face inscribed ‘GRATI PRINCEPS ET PATRIA CAROLVS IMP. ET REX’ (A grateful prince and country, Karl, Emperor and King); the reverse with the initial ‘C’ supporting the crowns of Austria and Hungary, inscribed VITAM ET SANGVINEM’ (with life and blood) and dated MDCCCCXVI (1916); diameter 13.73mm (0.54 inch); without ribbon.
Emperor Karl succeeded to the throne in November 1916 and the cross was instituted on 13 December. The design of the Cross strongly recalls that of the Army Cross of 1813-1814 (usually known as the ‘Cannon Cross’ - ‘Kanonenkreuz’) as a reminder of the war with Napoleonic France some hundred years before. The Cross was to be awarded to all military, regardless of rank, who had been part of a front-line formation for three months.
Approximately two-thirds of a million full-size examples were struck and, as a consequence, it is the most frequently encountered World War I decoration of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, though not often found in miniature.