Five-pointed silver and white enamel Maltese cross with green enamel oak and laurel wreath between the arms, on green enamel oval oak and laurel wreath swivel suspension; the face with circular central silver-gilt medallion bearing a female head facing right crowned with corn and laurel, representative of the French Republic, encircled by a deep blue enamel ring bearing the gilt inscription ‘REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE * 1870’; the reverse with a circular central silver-gilt medallion bearing the civil and military French tricolours in blue, white and red enamel, encircled by a deep blue enamel ring inscribed ‘HONNEUR ET PATRIE’ (Honour and Country), silver hallmark to the ribbon at the base; on probably original ribbon.
The Ordre Royal, Imperial et National de la Legion d’Honneur was established by Napoleon Bonaparte on 19 May 1802 to be awarded for outstanding civil or military service to France. It has survived Empire, restoration of the Monarchy and five Republics. There have been at least a dozen major changes to the insignia and, indeed, the political history of the past 200 years of France may be traced on them.
Since the suppression of the Ordre Militaire de Saint-Louis in 1830, the Ordre de la Legion d’Honnneur has been France’s premier order.