Seldom do we have the opportunity to offer an officer’s tunic AND trousers. It is even better when we can identify the owner. We are fortunate indeed to share just such a pairing with you. It is for a Leutnant from Infanterie-Regiment “Hamburg” (2. Hanseatisches) Nr. 76. The regiment was raised in 1866 during that year’s big build-up for the Austro-Prussian War. When it was formed, it was part of the Kingdom of Hannover’s X Armeekorps. It was annexed by Prussia following the 1866 war’s end, since Hannover had allied itself with the losing side. From 1867 through 1919, it was attached to Prussia’s IX Armeekorps. The regiment was garrisoned in Hamburg, the largest of the three Hanseatic Free States, and Germany’s largest seaport. [The latter remains true to this day].
The litewka is made of extremely fine hellgrau wool. Hellgrau means “light-gray,” which is a distinctly lighter shade than WW I’s darker feldgrau. [The wool cloth is of the highest order, simply topnotch. Clearly the owner insisted on the best quality and was able to pay for it.] A litewka is an interesting double-breasted tunic variation that sports a double row of gilt buttons (six per side) to secure it. A thin band of red piping outlines the litewka collar’s edges. A similar red piping band trims each of the litewka’s vertical front sides, as well as its cuffs (their only decoration). Its collar sports white kragenspiegel, each one accented by a single gilt button. The Leutnant’s shoulder boards also sport single gilt buttons, along with the regimental identification number, “76.”
The litewka’s reverse features NO further designs or trim. Its interior reveals a smooth, creamy-white silk liner. One of its two inside pockets displays a tailor’s label from a noted Wiesbaden tailoring firm. It states that the owner was a Leutnant Grages, and the tunic was completed on 2 October 1915. The war had entered its second year when Leutnant Grages took delivery of this ultra high-quality tunic.
The trousers that accompany the litewka are of equally fine quality and condition. They are made of a fine black wool. The outside of each trouser leg displays a thick red trim line that “parts” to allow access to pockets on either side near the top. One pocket has part of it cut away, and is not useable. All of the buttons and attachments are present and functional. The trousers’ front flap unbuttons just above the pockets so it can be lowered. The pants lack a zipper or fly.
This pairing offers a high quality wartime litewka and trousers that are made all the more exciting by being identified. Both are in amazing condition and would look wonderful on display.