Before we begin the formal description of this wonderful schirmütze, let us confirm to whom we are referring as Prinz/Kronprinz Wilhelm. We mean Germany’s third Kaiser, Wilhelm II (1859-1941), prior to 15 June 1888. Our officer’s visor cap dates from approximately 1880 to 1888. During that period, Wilhelm I was Kaiser, his son Friedrich Wilhelm was Kronprinz, and Friedrich’s son Wilhelm was the Prinz. Wilhelm I died in Berlin on 9 March 1888 and his son became Kaiser Friedrich III. Friedrich III served as Kaiser for only ninety-nine days, during which his son Wilhelm was elevated to Kronprinz. After Friedrich III’s death, Wilhelm II was crowned as Kaiser. Germany had three Kaisers during 1888. [At that point, Germans had no reason to suspect that Wilhelm II would be Germany’s final Kaiser, or that the monarchy would be abolished in 1918 by Wilhelm’s abdication and exile to the Netherlands, where he would remain until his death in 1941].
At first glance, this is a fairly standard, pre 1897 Prussian infantry officer’s schirmütze. It sports Prussia’s single kokarde, and the very short black front visor typical of the period’s caps. The cap’s cover is made of the highest quality dark-blue wool. Its wide red trim band measures 1″ in width. An excellent Prussian Officer’s Kokarde is centered on the red trim band. The cap’s top sports a narrow red piping band. The cap’s exterior is in excellent condition, considering its age. Inside the cap is a fine, brown leather sweatband. It is in near-mint condition and has seen little use. (Again this is especially pleasing since we are dealing with one hundred plus year-old leather).
It displays a fine, gold silk liner. In the silk liner’s center is Prinz/Kronprinz Wilhelm’s gold, embossed, crowned cypher. The silk liner exhibits a small tear forward. Up inside the cap’s interior is a small piece of metal, which is the source of the silk’s damage. The metal is a part of the cap’s “folding system,” which collapses so it takes less space. It is similar to the system used in top hats. (In Europe, this is referred to as a “Chapeau Claque”). Several years ago I offered a similar cap from Kaiser Wilhelm I.
This is an unusual, early piece of Kaiser Wilhelm II memorabilia. It is in stunning condition and would make a welcome addition to any collection.