During Kaiser Wilhelm I’s reign, the German Navy was essentially an afterthought. Much of this mind-set came from the “Iron Chancellor,” Otto von Bismarck. It was only when Kaiser Wilhelm II came to power that the Kaiserliche Marine emerged as an important arm of Germany’s military. Wilhelm II’s further interest in overseas colonies engendered a truly international German Navy rather than one limited to the North and the Baltic Seas.
Today we are offering a first for Der Rittmeister Militaria: a naval officer’s promotion patent signed by Kaiser Wilhelm I. The man being promoted was Christian Gustav Adolf Schwarzlose. The document’s format is identical to what then was used for Army officers, and that used later by Kaiser Friedrich III and Kaiser Wilhelm II. The document measures 15″ x 9″ before the document is unfolded to its full size of 15″ x 18.” It allows the document to have four equal sections for writing information, which was common with all written documents and letters. Three of the document’s four pages are used. The patent’s final page bears Wilhelm I’s signature. Beside it is the House of Hohenzollern’s large, embossed seal. Wilhelm I’s signature is quite large and impressive. On this page’s lower left, we see that the young officer has been promoted to Korvettenkapitän.
The document was signed in Berlin. Knowing that the document is more than one-hundred-thirty-years-old, it has a few issues. The document was folded into quarters. Foxing marks the document’s edges. A 3/4″ tear appears on the side in the document’s middle, where it has been folded several times. Otherwise, its overall condition is quite good. This is a very rare document from a time when Germany was still a naval neophyte.