This is a first time offering for us at Der Rittmeister Militaria: an officer’s pickelhaube from the very elite Grenadier-Regiment König Wilhelm I. (2. Westpreußisches) Nr 7, with its parade bush. The regiment was founded in 1797. It was garrisoned at Liegnitz (now Legnica, Poland) and attached to Prussia’s V. Armeekorps. Its Regimental Chef was none other than Prussia’s König (later Kaiser) Wilhelm I. [The regiment was founded the same year, 1797, as Wilhelm I was born, the importance of which we will share with you shortly].
The helmet’s leather body is most appealing. Its only flaw shows up on the helmet’s right rear three-quarters, where two small gouges appear very close to one another. They are not overly noticeable, because the parade bush masks the small flaw quite well, unless the bush is lifted up for inspection. Its wappen features a very attractive Grenadier-style eagle whose outspread wings extend greatly from its body (in direct contrast to a Line-Infanterie-Regiment’s closed-wing eagle). This wappen-style was used not only on Grenadiers’ helmets but for the various Garde-Regiments. The eagle’s wings extend almost to the kokarden’s midpoint.
The Grenadier-style wappen is only part of what makes this helmet so special. Near the eagle’s base it sports a wonderful bandeau that proclaims “22 März 1797,” König Wilhelm I’s birth date. [This bandeau was unique among other German helmets. Bandeaux typically were awarded as battle honors for major battles or campaigns in which a regiment had participated. During the Imperial Period, most bandeaux were worn by regiments whose battle honors had been restored to them in 1897 by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Most of these regiments had been absorbed into the Prussian Army following the 1866 Austro-Prussian War. The battle honors primarily dated from the Napoleonic Wars. Wilhelm II’s 1897 gesture allowed the regiments (including some from Hannover, Braunschweig, and Nassau) to regain some of their former states’ prestige. Grenadier-Regiment Nr 7, as well as Füsilier-Regiments Nr 34 and Nr 35 were the only regiments whose bandeaux celebrated monarchs (the two Füsilier-Regiments acknowledged the Swedish Queen)].
All of the helmet’s furniture, including the wappen, chin scales, trim, etc., is gilt-toned. [PLEASE NOTE: Officer’s pickelhauben chin scales often are attached to the helmet by devices called rosettes. A special rosette boasting Kaiser Wilhelm II’s cypher was available as an option on this regiment’s helmet. It was the only regiment to be so honored, since it saluted the first Kaiser, along with a nod from his grandson Wilhelm II. This particular helmet does NOT have those rosettes. It remains ENTIRELY correct, despite the fact that many helmets in reference books sport the rosettes. Remember, the rosettes were an option and were NOT mandatory for Grenadier-Regiment König Wilhelm I. (2. Westpreußisches) Nr 7’s pickelhauben]! The helmet’s parade trichter is also gilt-toned, and sports a marvelous, soundly-attached, full, black bush. NO spike comes with the helmet, just the trichter and parade bush. The correct State’s and Reich’s kokarden are attached.
The helmet’s interior features a high-quality, light-brown leather sweatband, with an attached, ribbed, light-beige, silk liner. A couple of small tears appear on the silk liner, but no major damage. It is in much better condition than the major shredding we often find. The hardware is all original, with the exception of one nut that does not match. The latter securely fastens the helmet officers’ stars. What is most important, NO double holes are present where the wappen is attached.
It is a fine pickelhaube in parade configuration from an elite regiment and would make an excellent addition to your collection. Its condition rates as very fine. $6,995.00
At Der Rittmeister Militaria, we strive to bring you the best in spiked helmets, or pickelhauben (plural for pickelhaube), one of Imperial German Militaria’s most interesting areas for collecting. While ORIGINALITY and AUTHENTICITY are of prime importance, please do not forget Der Rittmeister’s commitment to CONDITION and QUALITY. In this regard, we take special pride in offering you spiked helmets whose condition is at least well above average, if not excellent. I examine hundreds of pickelhauben to find the very few that fulfill all four criteria mentioned above. Upon receiving their new treasure, collectors who have purchased one of our pickelhauben often exclaim that their helmet looks even better than the photos we had displayed on our website. [We do use a high-quality digital camera to photograph our items and upgrade cameras every two years, but enough with the Der Rittmeister Militaria commercial]! Just remember, dear friends, Der Rittmeister’s Four Critical Criteria for collecting pickelhauben: ORIGINALITY, AUTHENTICITY, CONDITION, and QUALITY.
The pickelhaube was designed in 1842 by Prussia’s König Frederick William IV for use in the Prussian Infanterie. [The Prussian king might have copied similar helmets adopted by Russia’s military during the same time period. It is not clear whether this was a case of imitation, parallel invention, or if both were based on Napoleonic cuirassiers’ helmets]. The helmet style was soon adopted by Germany’s other states and kingdoms during the mid-19th Century, with Bavaria being the final principality to implement it in 1886. [The Bavarians always seemed to go their own way! Interestingly, Bavaria was also the last to authorize kugelhelme for their Artillerie Regiments in 1913]. In addition to Russia, spiked helmets were adopted by many Latin American countries. They were even worn by the USA’s armed forces from the 1880’s until around 1910.
We also remind all pickelhaube enthusiasts about our good friend Jim Turinetti’s excellent reference books on the subject (click here to see DRM’s Imperial German Headdress Page Nr 3), available as spiral-bound paperbacks or on CD. You cannot go wrong with them. I can safely state that Jim is the USA’s foremost authority on pickelhauben. Please support him. Dollar for dollar, these books are the best on the market, and reward you with an immeasurable return in value! [Remember, Jim receives any and ALL the profits from his works, Der Rittmeister Militaria just promotes them to help educate the collecting community].