White enamel urdy cross with green enamel laurel and oak wreath between the arms, on trophy of arms suspension, this reaffixed to the cross with a white card backing; the face with a circular central red enamel medallion bearing the gilt-edged white enamel cross of Savoy within a gilt-edged ring inscribed ‘AL MERITO MILITARE’ in gilt letters; the reverse with a circular central red enamel medallion bearing gilt crossed swords, the date ‘1855’ in gilt numerals above, the gilt letters ‘V’ and ‘E’ to either side (for Vittorio Emanuele, founder of the Order); diameter 18.89mm (0.74 inch); on original ribbon.
The Order was the highest and most prestigious Italian military order, awarded for exceptional conduct in war. It was founded on 14 August 1815 and renewed by Royal Decree on 27 September 1855 and 28 March 1857.
After the abolition of the Italian monarchy in 1947, the Order became the Military Order of Italy and the insignia were changed to reflect the fact that Italy had become a republic.
This example dates from the period 1855 to 1947.