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PRUSSIA – POSTCARD – GROßADMIRAL HANS VON KÖSTER – NAVY

SKU: 44-338

$25.00

PRUSSIA – POSTCARD – GROßADMIRAL HANS VON KÖSTER – NAVY.

Hans von Köster (1844-1928) was one of six Großadmirale appointed in the Kaiserliche Marine. In fact, he was the FIRST active-duty Admiral promoted to that rank in 1905. He retired the following year.

He appears in a Großadmiral’s uniform in this photograph. He holds the elaborate Großadmiral’s baton in his right hand. His uniform displays a large Frack Bar and Breast Stars. He wears the Order of the Black Eagle at his throat. He also sports a Zweispitz (Fore and Aft Cap). [We currently have von Köster’s magnificent piece of headdress (THIS one) as part of a group we are offering. The group includes his Großadmiral’s epaulettes and other assorted items in his special, NAMED, storage case]. The postcard is in excellent condition and has never been mailed.

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PRUSSIA – POSTCARD – GROßADMIRAL HANS VON KÖSTER – NAVY.

Hans von Köster (1844-1928) was one of six Großadmirale appointed in the Kaiserliche Marine. In fact, he was the FIRST active-duty Admiral promoted to that rank in 1905. He retired the following year.

He appears in a Großadmiral’s uniform in this photograph. He holds the elaborate Großadmiral’s baton in his right hand. His uniform displays a large Frack Bar and Breast Stars. He wears the Order of the Black Eagle at his throat. He also sports a Zweispitz (Fore and Aft Cap). [We currently have von Köster’s magnificent piece of headdress (THIS one) as part of a group we are offering. The group includes his Großadmiral’s epaulettes and other assorted items in his special, NAMED, storage case]. The postcard is in excellent condition and has never been mailed.

ALL POSTCARDS – NAVY

 

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  • PRUSSIA - SHOULDER BOARD AND POSTCARD - GROßADMIRAL  - ALFRED von TIRPITZ - Imperial German Military Antiques Sale

    PRUSSIA – SHOULDER BOARD AND POSTCARD – GROßADMIRAL – ALFRED von TIRPITZ

    SKU: 13-876

    $2,995.00

    Alfred von Tirpitz (1849-1930) was one of the Kaiserliche Marine’s best known admiräle (admirals). He joined the Navy in 1865. At that time the Prussian Navy was very small and insignificant. [When the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War took place, the Prussian Navy was far outnumbered by the French Navy. The Prussians stayed in port during the conflict, (engendering embarrassment for their lack of participation)]. Early in his career, Tirpitz was involved in the development of torpedoes, then Torpedo-Boots. He held a number of administrative and tactical commands. In 1895, he was promoted to the rank of Konteradmiral. In 1899, he was promoted to Vizeadmiral. The following year he was ennobled. In 1903, he was promoted to the rank of Admiral. His final promotion was to Großadmiral, which took place in 1911. (We will return to that later). In the late 1890’s, he became more involved in the Kaiserliche Marine’s political/administrative arm. From 1897-1916, he served as the “Secretary of State of the Imperial German Naval Office.” Von Tirpitz was responsible for the Navy’s growth. With the Kaiser’s support, the Navy greatly increased its numbers of battleships and cruisers. This led to an arms race with England, with each country enlarging its Navy in competition with its rival.
    Von Tirpitz also was responsible for building a fleet of U-Boots, as he felt that they would be very effective against England’s bigger ships (particularly those on duty in the eventual blockade that von Tirpitz realized was inevitable). He also knew submarines would help prevent cargo ships from delivering much needed war materials and food to England. [Interestingly, submarine warfare proved a major problem for Germany. Views about “unrestricted” submarine attacks on civilian targets raged pro and con within the Navy, as well as within the Kaiser’s circle, and those of other political/diplomatic entities. Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare eventually became a prime motivator for the USA’s involvement in WW I].
    By 1916, Kaiser Wilhelm withdrew his support for von Tirpitz (a handy scapegoat), forcing him to retire the same year. In 1917, von Tirpitz became involved in a new political party, eventually serving in the Reichstag during the 1920’s. Von Tirpitz remained an important figure within Germany’s military and public life until the late 1920’s. With the rise to party of the Nazi Party (NSDAP), a rebuilt German Luftwaffe (Air Force) and Kriegsmarine (Navy) came into existence. The Kriegsmarine built two modern Bismarck Class Battleships: the famous Bismarck was its lead ship, the Tirpitz was the second. The Bismarck was sunk in May 1941. Bottled up in Norwegian waters, the Tirpitz was not much of a major factor. Ultimately, bombers from the RAF sank her in November 1944.
    To truly comprehend von Tirpitz’s importance, one first must understand the rank of Großadmiral. It was instituted by the Kaiserliche Marine in 1901. Prior to that date, the highest rank was Admiral, which was equal to the German Army’s General der Infanterie. As it was the top rank, the Navy had NO rank equivalent to the Army’s ranks of Generaloberst or Generalfeldmarschall. When the Großadmiral’s rank was instituted, it became equivalent to the Army’s rank of Generalfeldmarschall, (the Army’s Generaloberst rank still had NO equivalent).
    Only SIX men became Großadmiräle (plural form) from the rank’s 1901 institution through the empire’s end in 1918. The first two, Kaiser Wilhelm II (1901) and Sweden’s King Oscar II (1901), were royals who held the rank on an honorary basis. The next two men, Hans von Koester (1905) and Prussia’s Prince Heinrich (1909), held the rank on a tactical basis. The final two men, Alfred von Tirpitz (1911)[held without patent] and Henning von Holtzendorff (1918), held the rank as the “Secretary of State of the Imperial German Naval Office,” the Navy’s TOP official.
    You will note the phrase “held without patent” after Alfred von Tirpitz’s name. When he received his promotion on 27 January 1911, he was given the title “Großadmiral,” BUT did not receive its patent. The lack of that document signifies that von Tirpitz’s rank actually was LOWER than the other five Großadmiräle. The difference becomes evident when we study von Tirpitz’s shoulder boards. The other five Großadmiräle’s shoulder boards sported crossed batons like those of the Generalfeldmarschälle (GFM), while von Tirpitz displayed four pips on his. [Those of you familiar with the German Army’s shoulder boards know that officers who received a patent with their rank wore the crossed batons. Those officers who were designated Generaloberst in the rank of Generalfeldmarschall (an honorary rank generally given to royals WITHOUT direct command authority) sported shoulder boards with the crossed batons AND three pips (combining a Generalfeldmarschall’s crossed batons with a Generaloberst’s three pips), or displayed four pips by themselves]. This was exactly von Tirpitz’s situation. Unlike the other five men, he bore four pips on his shoulder boards and epaulettes.
    Several years ago we offered a single von Tirpitz shoulder board with the same configuration. It came from a museum in Germany, and I was very excited to offer it. Today, we are offering ANOTHER single shoulder board that only could have belonged to Alfred von Tirpitz. The shoulder board measures 1 7/8″ x 4 3/16.” It displays four gilt-toned pips on its obverse. Its reverse reveals that it is of the slip-on variety, which is correct. Its backing material boasts a rich, 100% correct, navy-blue color that is proper for a naval officer’s shoulder boards. We can also see where each pip has been attached.
    In addition we are offering a postcard which shows von Tirpitz in uniform. If you look closely at the shoulder board that he is wearing on his left shoulder, you will note that it has FOUR pips and not crossed batons. This confirms that von Tirpitz was the only man to have the rank of Großadmiral and to wear a shoulder board with FOUR pips. The shoulder board’s condition is excellent, overall. Interestingly, this shoulder board’s addition means we currently are offering items from THREE of the six Großadmiräle! Only Kaiser Wilhelm II, Prinz Heinrich, and Sweden’s King Oscar II are not currently represented in our inventory.

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  • GROUPING - GROßADMIRAL HANS von KOESTER’S PERSONAL EFFECTS GROUP - INCLUDING EPAULETTES/FORE AND AFT CAP/ETC - Imperial German Military Antiques Sale

    GROUPING – GROßADMIRAL HANS von KOESTER’S PERSONAL EFFECTS GROUP – INCLUDING EPAULETTES/FORE AND AFT CAP/ETC

    SKU: 13-875

    $29,995.00

    I first offered this group over a decade ago. The fellow who has owned it since then recently changed his area of interest, so I was thrilled to take it back in trade. (Items like this just do NOT become available often). Hans von Koester was one of six Imperial Period men (five Germans and one Swede) appointed as a Großadmiral. The rank was created in 1901, with Kaiser Wilhelm II (naturally) appointing himself the first rank holder. King Oskar II of Sweden was granted the same rank that year as a ceremonial gesture. Listed below are the six men who held the rank from 1901 until the empire’s end in 1918.

    1901 – Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859–1941)
    1901 – King Oskar II of Sweden (1829–1907)
    28 June 1905 – Hans von Koester (1844–1928)
    4 September 1909 – HRH Prinz Heinrich of Prussia (1862–1929)
    27 January 1911 – Alfred von Tirpitz (1849–1930)
    [
    Promoted on an Honorary Basis without Patent]

    31 May 1918 – Henning von Holtzendorff (1853–1919)
    The first two recipients were ceremonial appointments rather than direct commands. The third appointee, Hans von Koester, was the first “operational” admiral to receive the rank. He was promoted to Großadmiral in 1905 as a reward for his long service. He actually retired the following year (1906). The next to receive the rank was Prinz Heinrich, (one of whose tunics and officer’s summer schirmütze we are proud to offer). Heinrich held direct command in the Kaiserliche Marine and was a royal, so his appointment was not an à la Suite promotion. Heinrich was the second officer with a naval background to achieve the rank. Alfred von Tirpitz was the third.
    *[PLEASE NOTE: von Tirpitz’s promotion must be viewed with an “asterisk.” His promotion was WITHOUT patent. That is, he was a Großadmiral in title, but his rank was more like that of an à la Suite (an honorary appointment for royalty ONLY). This somewhat confusing situation was evident on two different von Tirpitz shoulder boards we have offered in the past. Instead of a Großadmiral’s crossed batons, those boards displayed FOUR pips, which indicated the equivalent of a Generaloberst in the rank of Generalfeldmarschall. The latter was a rank often used by royals in the Imperial German Army, and officially WAS an à la Suite position. Prior to the institution of Großadmiral, the Imperial German Navy’s highest rank was a full Admiral, who wore TWO pips. The Navy had no equivalent to the Imperial German Army’s Generaloberst, who displayed THREE pips. The Navy simply skipped the rank! The number of shoulder board pips displayed on the four admirals’ ranks was as follows: a Konteradmiral wore NO pips; a Vizeadmiral displayed ONE pip; an Admiral boasted TWO pips; and a Großadmiral had NO pips, but instead displayed crossed batons].
    The final man to achieve the rank was Henning von Holtzendorff. He assumed Alfred von Tirpitz’s role, and also did not exercise direct command after his promotion. In fact, he retired before the war’s end due to health problems (he died in 1919). Von Holtzendorff was replaced by Admiral Reinhard Scheer (the High Seas Fleet commander at 1916’s Battle of Jutland/Skagerrak). Scheer was responsible for running the Navy, but was NOT awarded a Großadmiral’s rank. The following small group of Großadmiral Hans von Koester’s personal effects is absolutely marvelous.
    PAIR OF GROßADMIRAL’S EPAULETTES. I have seen some superb shoulder boards and epaulettes over the years, including those from the Kaiser. Nothing, however, has ever touched the sublime beauty of these truly magnificent specimens. Their centers are made of gold silk! Wool or felt is normally used for background material, not silk. Each center is highlighted by a pair of crossed batons. The batons’ artistry sets them apart from any Army Generalfeldmarschall’s batons. Army batons usually are made of silver, rather than the exquisite enamel used by the Navy. These display four different colors: gold, white, red, and black. Neither epaulette displays any damage whatsoever to these magnificent batons. A massive silver eagle grasping a fouled anchor in its claws overlays each baton set. Just below a small gilt naval button on the epaulette’s tongue is a silver Kaiser Crown. The tongue also displays red and black piping on a white background. The use of red, black, and white (the national colors) indicates that the Kaiserliche Marine was under the Reich’s authority, not the Kingdom of Prussia’s.
    More gold design work extends out from the silk field on which the batons and eagles are mounted. Massive gold ringlets flow down majestically around their edges. (They must have looked amazing when worn on the dress uniform)! The epaulettes’ undersides are covered in navy-blue wool, another sure sign that they are correct for the Kaiserliche Marine. A sliding brass clip arrangement allows them to be slipped onto the tunic.
    Looking at these epaulettes and their superb condition, one would be hard pressed to believe they are more than one-hundred-years-old.

    GROßADMIRAL’S UNIFORM CUFFS. Imperial German Navy Admiräle uniforms displayed gold bullion stripes that indicated the man’s rank. Daily-use tunics did NOT display shoulder boards, so rank was determined by the number of stripes on the cuffs. In a Großadmiral’s case, FOUR stripes designated his rank. Each of these stripes measures 9/16″ in width. In addition to the rank stripes, a single wide band of gold bullion is present that measures 1 15/16″ in width. Its bullion displays a wonderful patina, with gentle toning. Each cuff normally had a bullion Kaiser Crown attached, as well. Only one of them is present, and is NOT attached to the cuff. [We will show this in our photographs]. Each cuff is wrapped very neatly in some very old tissue paper. Both are most attractive.

    FORE & AFT CAP (ZWEISPITZ) BELONGING TO ADMIRAL HANS von KOESTER. Naval officers wore two types of headdresses. First, for regular duty, was the schirmütze (visor cap). Second, for more formal occasions, and often worn with a Gala Naval Uniform, was the zweispitz (fore and aft cap). [Naval officers actually had three types of uniforms: daily wear, dress, and high-dress (Gala). Many officers did not even have a Gala uniform unless they were of higher rank or were extremely wealthy]. In the USA, we more frequently associate fore and aft caps with naval headdresses from the 18th and early 19th Centuries. In the Kaiserliche Marine, an Admiral’s zweispitz was different from the other officers’ headdresses. Von Koester’s zweispitz is significantly and magnificently more elaborate.
    The zweispitz’s body is covered with close-cropped very fine fur, perhaps seal. In addition to the golden coil that extends from the gilt navy button on the cap’s right side, the other huge difference is a 2 ½”bullion band that runs the length of the cap’s two sides. Each of the cap’s ends sports multiple silver bullion ringlets. Beneath the top row of silver ringlets is another row that is interspersed with silver, red, and black ringlets. The cap’s right side boasts a large and very elegant silk Reich’s kokarde.
    Turning to the interior, we see a very high-quality, light-brown leather sweatband. It is 100% complete and in excellent condition. If we look closely, in a place or two we can see some very slight sweat stains from where von Koester actually wore it! The white silk liner is flawless and in superb condition. His name, “von Koester,” is embossed in gold on the white silk liner.

    STORAGE CASE FOR ALL ITEMS LISTED ABOVE. This is a large storage case that measures 8 1/4″ x 9″ x 18.” The case was used to store the epaulettes and zweispitz when not in use. It has a handle on the top that made it convenient for use when traveling. On the case’s front is a small plaque that measures 1 3/16″ x 3 ½” and bears his name: “von Koester.” When I originally bought the group many years ago, the case’s top half was separated from its bottom half. The hinges and screws that secured them had pulled loose. When I bought the group back, I decided to address the problem. Normally, I prefer to avoid restoration, but in this case I felt it was in order. So we inserted new screws in the original hinges and the case operates as it did more than one-hundred-years ago. The original key is attached to the handle!
    Inside the case we see that the zweispitz is nestled at the bottom. Over it is a red silk platform. The platform performs two purposes. It separates the zweispitz from the contents at the case’s top. That is where the platform becomes the epaulettes’ storage stand. Each epaulette slides onto the platform and is secured. The tunic cuffs are folded in their tissue and laid at the top, which makes for a tidy package.

    SILVER PRESENTATION PLATE FROM von KOESTER’S STAFF WHEN COMMANDER OF DER MARINE STATION den OSTSEE. This is an ultra-high-quality silver presentation plate. It measures 11″ in diameter. The plate’s edges display very elaborate scrollwork accented with a floral motif. The following dedication is engraved at the plate’s top: “Unserem Hochverehrten Stationschef Admiral H. Koester” (Our esteemed station-chief Admiral H. Koester). Another engraving is presented at the plate’s bottom: “Die Offiziere der Marinestation der Ostsee” (The officers of the Baltic Sea Marine Station). An admiral’s flag is in the plate’s center. Below that is the presentation’s date, 22 März 1897. The plate’s reverse is highly tarnished and bears the manufacturer’s hallmark, as well as one for .800 silver, and the initials “AP.”
    The Marinestation Ostsee was the Baltic Sea Naval Station located in Kiel. Von Koester held this post from 1889 to 1903. It should also be noted that he is recognized as an Admiral, rather than the lower rank of Vizeadmiral. It is interesting to note that von Koester received the promotion in 1897, the same year as the plate! The plate is in amazing condition for its age.

    COLOR POSTCARD AND DETAILED HISTORICAL INFORMATION OF HANS von KOESTER. We are including a period color postcard of Großadmiral Hans von Koester. We thought it important that you know what the man looked like. We also have some historical background on him that chronicles his long career.

    Words cannot adequately describe the beauty, rarity, and historical importance of this group. If you are a collector of Kaiserliche Marine items, we have many other important items including Prinz Heinrich’s aforementioned group, an overcoat with shoulder boards for a Großadmiral, and numerous epaulettes for every officer rank up-to-and-including a Kapitän zur See. (Please browse our “NAVY” Merchandise Page to see them, click here to see).


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