Today we are offering a fine reserve officer’s pickelhaube that would have been suitable for FIVE different Prussian Line Dragoner-Regiments (Nrs 7, 8, 11, 13, and 14). All of them featured gold-toned brass fittings, in contrast to Dragoner-Regiments Nrs 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, and 15, which featured silver-toned fittings. Dragoner Regiments were part of the Prussian Army’s Kavallerie, along with the Husaren, Ulanen, and Küraßiers. The first Prussian Dragoner-Regiment was formed in 1689. Another was formed in 1704. More were formed in the early 19th Century during the Napoleonic Wars. The bulk of the line Kavallerie Regiments were formed around 1860, prior to the 1864 Danish-Prussian, the 1866 Austro-Prussian, and the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian Wars.
By the time the Franco-Prussian War arrived, it was becoming evident that the cavalry’s future in modern warfare would be limited. This was partially due to bolt action rifles that permitted more accurate, rapid firing than the old muzzle-loaders, and other advances in artillery. The situation was further heightened by the introduction of machine guns late in the 19th Century, which rendered cavalrymen equally as tasty targets as the infantry. During WW I’s early months, the cavalry’s role was quickly reduced, since charges against entrenched positions became futile. At best, the cavalrymen were used as scouts, or more often dismounted to fight in the trenches alongside the infantry. Their horses were sent home, used to move artillery, or (later) eaten. The era for the cavalry had ended.
The helmet’s leather body is high-quality, with an excellent finish and condition. [Please note that Dragoner pickelhauben feature squared front visors in contrast to Infanterie Regiments rounded ones]. Some very minor areas are lightly scarred, but the leather exhibits NO major blemishes. The leather is solid and was well preserved over the one-hundred-plus years since its original owner purchased it. It definitely is a pre WW I-quality pickelhaube that I date to the 1900-1910 period. As mentioned earlier, its furniture is all made of brass with a handsome gold tone, with one small exception. The Iron Cross-shaped reserve cross in the center of the wappen’s eagle is silver-toned. The date “1813” appears in the cross’s center. [I want to point out that locating a reserve officer’s pickelhaube for this type of regiment is quite a “find.” Dragoner-Regiment pickelhauben are much scarcer than Infanterie Regiment examples. Prior to WW I, approximately one hundred-eighty Infanterie Regiments were in existence, compared to a mere twenty-five Dragoner-Regiments. Added to that, far fewer reserve officers’ pickelhauben existed than those from the regular army].
Also please note that the cruciform base on this helmet differs from the rounded base used on Infanterie Regiment pickelhauben. The helmet’s spike is also EXTRA tall, very much like the spikes favored by the Saxons. This style is quite unusual for a Prussian helmet, which demonstrates its original owner’s sense of style. Also included is a very full parade bush and gilt-toned trichter. Our resident expert on parade bushes, Miss Alore, has curry-combed it so that it looks quite smart. We are quite pleased to include the parade bush AND spike. The correct officers’ State’s and Reich’s kokarden are present.
The interior features a lightly-used, brown leather sweatband. The leather is in very fine condition, as is its attached light-brown silk liner. Although it exhibits a few light spots of perspiration, NO signs of running or shredding are evident. Underneath the silk liner, all of the original hardware is in place. NO double holes appear where the wappen is attached the leather body. A lightly pencilled-in “55” is present on the leather interior. It is an average size for a German from the era. It remains a 100% original and correct pickelhaube that is in excellent condition, complete with both parade bush/trichter and service spike.
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].