PRUSSIA – PICKELHAUBE – OFFICER’S PARADE – 1. GARDE-REGIMENT ZU FUß – SERVICE SPIKE – “SEMPER TALIS” BANDEAU.
This amazing pickelhaube ensemble is a consignment item. It comes to us from two very special collections. It originally hailed from one of Europe’s premiere collections, and now has been consigned to DRM by the USA’s leading (in my opinion) pickelhauben collector. The helmet has become surplus to the gentleman’s needs, so he has entrusted us to find it a new home!
The 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß was Prussia’s most-elite Infanterie Regiment. [One easily could argue that it was THE best-known and most prestigious of all Imperial Germany’s Infanterie Regiments]. Founded in 1688, the regiment was garrisoned in Potsdam, where Prussia’s preeminent Garde-Regiments were based. Like all Garde-Regiments, it was assigned to the Garde-Korps and to the 1. Garde-Division within the Garde-Korps. It was considered the Prussian König’s (later the German Kaiser’s) primary Infanterie Garde-Regiment, much like the Regiment der Garde du Corps was among the Kavallerie Regiments.
Another indication of the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß’s supremacy was its preponderance of à la Suite officers. No other regiment had as many. A quick glance at the Rangliste classifying all regimental officers (both serving and à la Suite) reveals that the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß had more than twenty-five à la Suite officers! All males from the House of Hohenzollern were admitted to the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß as Leutnants when they were young. As they aged, they attained higher positions within the regiment. A more senior officer like Prinz Heinrich, the younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II, served as a General Oberst in the rank of Generalfeldmarschall. Even the Regiment der Garde du Corps did not have so many à la Suite officers as the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß. Who were these à la Suite officers? In addition to the Princes of the House of Hohenzollern, other officers came from royal families across Germany. This was definitely an “A” list regiment.
The 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß differed from other Infanterie Regiment in several ways. While most regiments numbered three Bataillone within them, the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß had four. The fourth was termed the Lehr Bataillon, which essentially was a training unit. [We have some very scarce photographs available, if you have an interest in the latter]. While the regiment had an Oberst or Oberstleutnant in overall command (Kaiser Wilhelm II was its Regimental Chef or honorary commander), a Major typically commanded a Bataillon. Each of the three Bataillone serving under these majors contained ten to eleven Kompagnien, with one Kompagnie’s members designated to serve as replacements for sick or departed soldiers in the other Kompagnien.
The helmet we are offering today was worn by Bataillon Nr 1 and Regimental Staff members, which makes it particularly desirable. The helmet’s leather body is quite pleasing, with only a few minor faults to the leather on its right rear quarter (minimal defects, in my opinion). It is harder to see these imperfections when the parade bush is mounted. Moving on to the helmet’s furniture, I just love its wappen. It is the helmet’s star. Its Garde Eagle is massive, with EXTRA wide wings extending all the way back to the kokarden. The wappen’s silver finish shows a great deal of toning and a superb patina. The wappen has not been cleaned in years (perhaps decades). Simply stated, its silver finish is exquisitely rich. This spiked helmet’s previous owners knew better than to “clean up” a wappen. Original is always better! A beautiful Garde Star sits in the wappen’s center. Its enamel is intact and the entire star just glows. A large bandeau sits above the wappen, and also displays significant toning. The bandeau sports the legend “Semper Talis” (Always the Same). The latter confirm that our helmet belonged to members of only one Bataillon and a few regimental staff officers.
The rest of the magnificent helmet’s furniture also is silver-toned. Its chin scales are flat, as is correct for Infanterie Pickelhauben, and its front visor is rounded rather than squared. Its silver spike is fluted, which also is unique to this regiment, since fluted spikes were generally reserved for General’s helmets in Prussia. In addition to its service spike, our helmet comes with the very rare trichter and parade bush. Like the spike, the trichter is silver and fluted. Mounted to the trichter is a very full and handsome white bush. [PLEASE NOTE: White bushes were used by Bataillone Nr’s 1 and 2, while Bataillone Nr 3 employed black bushes]. The exterior’s final detail is that the correct State’s and Reich’s officers’ kokarden are present.
The helmet interior’s condition matches that of its exterior. A lovely light-brown leather sweatband that has seen minimal use is in place. Its beige silk-liner is equally as impressive. The pattern of the silk liner is ribbed. Under the silk liner we see that there are no double holes where the wappen is attached. All of the correct and original hardware is present. I can find no indication of a name or helmet size. That said, it is not a large helmet and looks to be in the 53-55 range.
This is an amazing helmet that offers a discriminating collector the opportunity to acquire a 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß helmet that is complete and original in every way. As mentioned, it has been part of two prestigious collections and has been fully vetted by two of the world’s leading headdress collectors.