BADEN – PICKELHAUBE – ONE-YEAR-VOLUNTEER – PRE-1897 DRAGONER-REGIMENT
This is a fine example of a One-Year-Volunteer’s pickelhaube that was produced prior to 1897 for Dragoner-Regiments Nr 20, Nr 21, and Nr 22. The Grand Duchy of Baden, located just west of modern-day Stuttgart, fielded a total of three Dragoner-Regiments. These included 1. Badisches Leib-Dragoner-Regiment Nr 20, 2. Badisches Dragoner-Regiment Nr 21, and 3. Badisches Dragoner-Regiment Prinz Karl Nr 22. The first regiment was raised in 1803, the other two in 1850. They were garrisoned in Karlsruhe (the capital), Bruchsal-Schwetzingen, and Mülhausen i.E. All three regiments were attached to the XIV. Armeekorps. (ALL Baden regiments were part of the XIV. Armeekorps, since the Armeekorps had been established along geographic boundaries within Germany prior to WW I). These three regiments comprised Baden’s entire Kavallerie contingent. [Unlike some other states that fielded Küraßier, Dragoner, Ulanen, or Husaren Regiments, Baden focused on Dragoner-Regiments only].
Our offering today is a very fine officer’s pickelhaube from a Dragoner-Regiment. The helmet’s leather body has a squared-off front visor rather than a rounded one. All Dragoner helmets throughout Germany had squared visors. Only Württemberg and Bavaria used the squared visor for regiments other than the Dragoner. The other use for a helmet with a squared front visor was as general officers’ pickelhauben.
The leather body of this spiked helmet is generally pleasing. The leather is in great shape. We see some minor cracking from age. We also see a bit of settling at the top in the area where the cruciform is attached due to the extra weight of the cruciform.. This is another sign of aging. We are dealing with a helmet that is most certainly more than one-hundred years-old. In fact, I would say that the helmet dates from the 1890-1897 period, for a reason I will explain further in the description.
The helmet’s furniture, including the wappen, cruciform, spike, and trim, is silver. It is a very high-quality silver. I cannot go so far as to say it is actually .800 silver, but it is a high-grade material, whatever it may be (possibly even German silver). It has a marvelous patina, with a certain special quality about it. The chin scales and the officers stars are gilt-toned, in the only deviation from the silver theme. Returning to the wappen, as high as is its quality, it is NOT for an officer. As a part of the OYV program, it was mandatory that at least one of the pickelhaube’s features be of NCO/enlisted man’s quality. This man choose the wappen. He elected that the helmet’s entire balance, including the cruciform, stars, and kokarde, be officer’s level. So you are dealing with an officer’s quality pickelhaube as it was privately purchased and not issued from government stores, with that one exception. Many a collector would not even notice that the wappen’s crown is closed instead of open, as is the officer’s crown on a wappen.
The pickelhaube’s final feature, on the right side (from the wearer’s perspective) is a Baden officer’s kokarde. It is the helmet’s only kokarde, indicating that the helmet was manufactured and worn prior to 1897. [Prior to 1897, a Reich’s kokarde was not used, just one for the state. Post 1897, the Reich’s kokarde appeared on the right side, and the state’s kokarde was shifted to the left, hence my estimate that the helmet was manufactured in the 1890-1897 period. In fact, I place it closer to 1897 than 1890, again for a reason I will share later]. The kokarde has Baden’s national colors of red and gold. The Baden-style pattern was shared by only a few states including Saxony, Württemberg, and Hesse-Darmstadt. I find the pattern to be very elegant. I am always pleased to find a helmet with this type of kokarde.
The interior sports a handsome, leather sweatband. We see a brown silk liner that, while complete, is in a bit rougher condition than I prefer. Some tears and runs appear in the silk, and it has come loose from the leather sweatband to which it originally was attached. Under the silk liner, all of the original hardware is in place. In a previous paragraph I said that I felt the helmet had been produced fairly close to 1897. My reason is that many officer’s helmets from pre 1890 did not use silk liners. They instead used the same leather liner as did NCO/enlisted men’s helmets. The use of silk liners for privately-purchased helmets (silk liners were NOT used on depot-issued helmets) appeared closer to 1897. It was just an attractive addition to a privately-purchased helmet and often was used on officer’s, OYV’s, and even NCO’s helmets. When we look at the wappen’s attachment we see that it was attached with a leather thong rather than a screw and nut, because it did not belong to an officer.
As I said, good quality is one of the reasons that I often am attracted to a One-Year-Volunteer’s helmet, which this helmet certainly possesses. Another reason is the current cost. A similar helmet to a FULL officer, whose only difference from ours was the wappen’s open rather than closed crown, cost two thousand dollars more. At first glance, only the experienced eye can even tell it is not an officer’s helmet. The fellow who bought this helmet more than one-hundred-ten years ago knew good quality and was not afraid to pay for it. Anyone who examines this helmet closely will see its true value.