This week we are offering one of the most significant uniform groups we have ever had. It is from Braunschweigisches Husaren-Regiment Nr 17, which was founded in 1809. The regiment was garrisoned in the capital city of Braunschweig, and assigned to the X. Armeekorps. Braunschweigisches Husaren-Regiment Nr 17 possessed a fabled history. Among the battles and campaigns in which it participated were, the Peninsula Campaign (Spain and Portugal) with Wellington, Waterloo (again with Wellington), and Mars La Tour, during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71. This regiment, along with Infanterie-Regiment Nr 92, and a single artillery Bataillon, constituted the Duchy of Braunschweig’s entire military. Braunschweig once was part of the Kingdom of Hannover. Hannover and Braunschweig were absorbed into Prussia after they found themselves on the losing side of the 1866 war between Prussia and Austria. This status continued until 1912, when Duke (Herzog) Ernst August of Braunschweig married Kaiser Wilhelm II’s only daughter. Braunschweig was then afforded greater independence, but very much remained a Prussian vassal state.
Our offering today is that very Duke’s feldgrau tunic (attila) and trousers for Braunschweigisches Husaren-Regiment Nr 17. This is an important and exciting group on a number of levels. First, attilas are highly-prized by collectors, especially when found in feldgrau. Second, to find one in a general officer’s rank that once belonged to a German HEAD-OF-STATE (the Kaiser’s son-in-law, no-less) is extra-special. The tunic is made of ultra-high-grade gabardine wool in the highly-desirable feldgrau. Its tresses are silver with black chevrons interwoven throughout. The rosette and barrel buttons are cloth rather than prewar metal. Two slash pockets decorate the tunic’s front. The collar is trimmed in the same fabric as the tresses. The tunic’s shoulders feature a Prussian Generalmajor’s shoulder boards with crowned buttons. Many sewn-in loops for orders, decorations and ribbon bars dot the tunic’s front left chest area. The one for the ribbon bar is 6″ long from end to end. Approximately TEN different sets of loops appear to accommodate all of the other awards worn by Ernst August. In fact, an Ernst August War Service Cross 1st Class is attached to one of the sets! Three moth nips appear on the tunic’s obverse. (We will detail them in our accompanying photos). Two small nips also show on each of the tunic’s sleeves.
The tunic’s reverse repeats the same tresses motif, as well as the cloth rosette buttons. It is in exquisite condition. Inside, the tunic boasts a sumptuous silk liner that excels what other officers commissioned from a tailor (the perks of royalty)! Two pockets show up inside the tunic. Its collar is quite unusual. A white collar liner is affixed to the tunic’s collar by three snaps. “L/M F. A.. III 4708” is stenciled in black on the white attached inner collar. About three to four inches immediately below that, “R IV” is embroidered in red thread. This is no doubt a clothing numbering system to assist a valet with knowing which tunic to pull for his master on a given day. We see such a system with Kaiser Wilhelm II’s tunics (especially helpful for his valet, since he had more than 200 from which he could draw!) [These occasionally appear on the market].
Although the tunic is quite interesting, I find the trousers that go with it very appealing. They are the classic riding breeches favored by Hussars. They are quite wide at the hip and thigh area, then narrow down substantially on the leg and ankle. They sport a button-front (no zippers in German uniforms at this time!), with five buttons at the front and two in the rear. They also have a buckle adjustment at the rear. Three buttons at each ankle complete the blousing effect. Finally, a single, narrow, red stripe down the outside of each pant leg confirms the general officer’s status. This is a lovely, historic group. If a visor cap or busby were added to the display (even if they were not the Duke’s) it would make the uniform group even more striking.