This is a consignment item. It is a high quality officer’s küraß for a Prussian Line-Küraßier-Regiment. Küraßiers were considered the German Army’s heavy cavalry. They harkened back to when cavalrymen dashed madly across battlefields to fight enemy cavalry and infantry units. The Küraßiers heyday reigned from the 18th Century through the early 19th Century’s Napoleonic Wars. Their usefulness gradually diminished as firearms and artillery became more sophisticated and the 19th Century evolved into the 20th. The same was true of Germany’s other Kavallerie units, which included Ulanen, Dragoner, Husaren, and Chevauleger Regiments. While their tactical usefulness diminished, their ceremonial value greatly increased with the German Empire’s 1871 formation. The Küraßier Regiments took pride of place during this time, particularly Prussia’s Regiment der Gardes du Corps (GdC) and Saxony’s Garde-Reiter-Regiment, both of which displayed elaborate uniforms and headdress.
Five Prussian Army Line-Küraßier-Regiments wore küraßes like the example we are offering today. It features a simple silver-toned finish along with certain gold-toned fittings such as bolts, circular adornments, and the nipple posts to which its securing belts are attached. The securing belts are particularly important, and are attached to the shoulder tops of the küraß’s back section. [The belts themselves greatly resemble an officer’s pickelhaube chinstraps with their individual, overlapping metal scales]. A high-relief ornamental lion’s head within a shield appears just behind the actual attachment device. Once they are secured by the attachment device, the belts are then laid over the wearer’s shoulders to be secured to the corresponding posts on the küraß’s front section. The belts sport very ornate attachment plates with “keyholes” that are secured around the front section’s nipple post attachments. Laurel leaves adorn the attachment plates in very elegant patterns.
The interiors of the küraß’s two sections are lined with padded white cotton for extra protection and comfort. The cotton also helped absorb perspiration. [One can well imagine that wearing a wool koller under a küraß would make its wearer VERY warm in summertime, in addition to the metal pickelhaube with its long lobstertail protecting his neck! At least a Line-Küraßier-Regiment officer did not have to wear the GdC’s heavy eagle on top of his helmet, which would have added more weight to the equation].
All in all, it is a fine example of an officer’s küraß. The küraß’s front sports two areas of tarnish/patina from decades of NOT being cleaned (as an officer’s aid would have done). These appear near the gold-toned nipple post attachments. Another small defect turns up about three inches above the left nipple post (from the wearer’s standpoint). It looks like the küraß was struck by something heavy enough to damage a bit of the silver-toned surface. The actual damage is diagonal and about one inch in length. The küraß’s rear half does not display any damage, but does sport a substantial patina from age. We are very pleased to share this handsome piece with you today. [Here is one final bit of information to share with you. The consignor is a longtime, very experienced collector. His collection still houses other küraßes, including a black spring-parade GdC küraß. He tells us the Line-Küraßier-Regiment küraß is absolutely the largest one that he has ever encountered. Due to its weight and value, extra shipping costs will be necessary].