A year or so ago, we had the great fortune to offer a Reserve Officer’s 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr 1 Busby. At the time I felt that it would years before I would find another to share with you. They are very scarce to say the least (it was only the second that I had ever turned up). So I was stunned when this example tumbled into my lap, especially considering its source. I cannot publicly name its previous owner, however, he is VERY well known in the collecting community and considered an expert. I will gladly share details of the collector’s identity with the busby’s buyer.
This amazing reserve officer’s busby hails from Prussia’s legendary 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr 1. The 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr 1 was one of the Imperial German Army’s most fabled Kavallerie Regiments. It was founded in 1741, garrisoned at Danzig-Langfuhr, and attached to the XVII. Armeekorps. The regiment, along with its sister regiment 2. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Königin Victoria von Preußen Nr 2, was one of only two Prussian Army Regiments to display the Totenkopf on their wappens. Two other NON-Prussian Army Regiments displayed a different Totenkopf-style: the Duchy of Braunschweig’s Husaren-Regiment Nr 17 and Infanterie-Regiment Nr 92. These four were the only Imperial German regiments to display the Totenkopf on their dress headdresses, schirmmützen and mützen.
Our busby’s body is covered with sumptuous possum fur that is in very fine condition. No fur loss is evident. The magnificent silver/German silver wappen, which immediately draws one’s attention, measures 2 ½” x 2 ¾.” The wappen’s silver boasts a scrumptious patina. The Totenkopf’s eyes and nose are backed with black velvet, giving it a sinister appearance. The chin scales are gold-toned, have their correct leather backing and are 100% correct for a Husaren busby. If we look at each individual scale, we can detect decades-worth of built-up dirt and gunk. This confirms it is an all-original busby (more confirmation follows). The chin scales are pinned-up in the classic Hussar manner (i.e., dropped underneath the chin and connected when needed). As is correct, only one kokarde is present (on the right from the wearer’s perspective). We can tell it is a post-1897 busby, as the single officer’s kokarde is for the Reich, NOT Prussia (as it was prior to 1897).
Directly above the wappen at the busby’s front is the feldzeichen (field badge). We know it definitely is an officer’s-quality piece from the silver bullion wrapped around the feldzeichen. The badge’s center is made of black velvet. A correct Prussian reserve officer’s cross is attached to the feldzeichen’s center. A subtle difference occurs between Hussar feldzeichens and those used on tschakos. What, you ask? The Husaren feldzeichen is wider. While other feldzeichens may LOOK similar, our example is wider and plumper, (confirmed when I physically compared it to other feldzeichens).
The busby’s red kolpak clearly identifies it as a 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr 1 example. [If it sported a WHITE kolpak, it would be correct for the 2. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Königin Victoria von Preußen Nr 2]. The kolpak reveals a couple of very small moth nips. They are in no way detractive to its overall presentation. The exterior’s final detail is the very rare, correct parade (heron) feathers in their special trichter.
The busby’s interior reveals a fine, light-brown leather sweatband that is in excellent condition. A gray silk liner is attached to the sweatband. Some minor shredding appears at the liner attachment’s back. A busby’s liner is far different from that used on a spiked helmet. While the liner IS attached to the sweatband, it is NOT divided into two halves like a pickelhaube liner. Instead, it is fashioned from ONE piece of silk. The latter does not cover the busby’s entire interior, but sports a cutout in its center.
This is a sensational busby from one of Germany’s most fabled regiments. Kaiser Wilhelm II, Kronprinz Wilhelm, and Generalfeldmarschall August von Mackensen all frequently sported this same busby when they proudly wore its regiment’s uniforms. [Von Mackensen had served in the regiment as a young officer during the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War. During that conflict he was awarded the 1870 Iron Cross 2nd Class]. The busby will make an amazing centerpiece for any collection, general or headdress.