Interesting thread. Here is a medal bar from a collection I bought.
I don't really collect photographs, but do make the very occasional purchase if I like a picture and the price is not too high.
Here is the latest of these sporadic purchases; a portrait of a Bavarian WWI veteran:
Let's have a closer look at his medal bar:
The bar has the following decorations:
- Bayerisches Militärverdienstkreuz III. Klasse mit Schwertern [Bavarian Military Merit Cross 3rd Class with Swords]
- Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse [Iron Cross 2nd Class]
- Bayerische Dienstauszeichnung III. Klasse [Bavarian Long Service Award 3rd Class, i.e. for 9 years of service]
- Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer [Honor Cross for Frontline Soldiers]
By the then-current proper order of precedence, he should be wearing the Iron Cross first, then the Bavarian decoration, then the Honor Cross and then the long service award in the last place.
The Bavarian decoration taking first place on the bar was correct in the Imperial-German era, when Prussia and Bavaria were individual kingdoms. While the Iron Cross was awarded in the name of the Kaiser to soldiers of the armies/troop contingents of all German states, it was still a Prussian decoration and thus came first only on the bars of Prussian soldiers, whereas all the others wore the decorations of their native states first.
Note how the ribbon of the 1914/18 Honor Cross is mounted in a different way from the other three decorations: The ribbon is not as neatly folded into the traditional "Bavarian" style and from the way it narrows down on the outer edge is clearly exceeding the metal backing plate.
It is obviously a later add-on to a bar mounted in the pre-1934 period, either as a completely new addition to what once was a three-place bar or replacing one of the many unofficial Weimar-era decorations for WWI vets, all of which were officially banned from wear after the institution of the 1914/18 Ehrenkreuz.
I have also posted this on my thread on the Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges, as the picture is relevant for both threads:
The 1914/1918 Ehrenkreuz