Magnificent seven-pointed white enamel and silver-gilt Maltese cross with imperial crown and laterally-pierced cylinder between the upper arms for ribbon suspension and with later swivel ring and ribbon bar; the face with a circular central gold medallion imposed bearing the polychrome image of St. Michael subduing Satan within a deep blue circle inscribed in gilt letters ‘AUSPICIUM MELIORIS AEVI’ (a token of a better age); the reverse with a circular central gold medallion imposed bearing the polychrome image of St. George on horseback slaying the dragon within a deep blue circle inscribed in gilt letters ‘AUSPICIUM MELIORIS AEVI’ (a token of a better age); height excluding suspension ring 68.76mm (2.7 inches), diameter 51.01mm (2 inches); on replaced correct ribbon with original silver-gilt buckle; in original fitted embossed leatherette case of issue by R. & S. Garrard & Co.. The Order was instituted on 28 April 1818 by the Prince Regent (later to become King George IV) to acknowledge valuable contributions by the citizens of the Ionian Islands and Malta, both of which had been placed under British protection at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Appointments to the Order might also be made for those in ‘high and confidential situations in the Mediterranean’. In 1864 the Ionian Islands were ceded to Greece and the Order was revised in 1868 with future appointments to be those who ‘hold high and confidential offices within Her Majesty's colonial possessions and in reward for services rendered to the Crown in relation to the foreign affairs of the Empire’. Today membership of the Order is limited to 125 Knights Grand Cross (G.C.M.G.), 375 Knights Commander (K.C.M.G.), and 1,750 Companions (C.M.G.) and appointments are made to men and women of high office, or who render extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country. It can also be conferred for important or loyal service in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs. Thus members are typically British ambassadors, other senior diplomats and colonial governors general and governors. A superb early example of outstanding quality and in excellent condition dating from before the then Crown Jewellers R. & S. Garrard became Garrard & Co Ltd on 18 March 1909.