WÜRTTEMBERG – SHOULDER BOARDS – ARTILLERIE GENERALOBERST.
One of my personal interests is shoulder boards/epaulettes, especially when they are for General Officers AND come from states other than Prussia. For your consideration, today I am presenting a very interesting and rare pair of Artillerie Generaloberst’s shoulder boards from the Kingdom of Württemberg. The rank of Generaloberst, one rank below a Generalfeldmarschall, was rarely attained within the Imperial German Army. Early in WWI, two Generalobersts commanded the I. and II. Armees that were massed on the Western Front after invading France through Belgium. Also early in WW I, Paul von Hindenburg was recalled from retirement and made a Generaloberst commanding the German VIII. Armee. His promotion to Generalfeldmarschall did not come until 1 November 1914.
They feature alternating rows of silver and gold bullion in the Russian braid-style on the obverse. Their red and black chevrons (Württemberg’s state colors) indicate their origin. These same colors appear on the state kokarden for Württemberg’s pickelhauben and kugelhelme. The boards’ triangular formation of three brass pips indicates a Generaloberst. The boards also display the Artillerie’s flaming bomb (grenade). Their reverses display red felt backings. The shoulder boards overall condition is very fine. One can easily see how the shoulder boards are slightly rounded from being worn on a tunic.
Naturally, whoever buys these shoulder boards will have an interest in their original owner’s identity. We asked a premiere researcher from the UK for his opinion. While he cannot be 100% certain, and notes some differences in how the pips are arranged, he has suggested that they may have belonged to Bavaria’s Prinz-Regent Luitpold (1821-1912). Luitpold was named Regent in 1886 when his nephew, König (Mad) Ludwig II (1845-1886) was removed from office due to mental instability. Although he was replaced by his younger brother, Otto (1848-1913), Otto ALSO was considered mentally unstable. Thus, Luitpold became Bavaria’s Regent. His regency continued until his death in 1912. His son, Ludwig (1845-1921), was then named Regent since King Otto was still locked away. King Otto died in 1913, at which time Prinz Regent Ludwig transitioned from Bavaria’s Regent to its König and ruled as Ludwig III from 1913 until all German royalty abdicated their thrones following WW 1’s end in 1918.
We believe that these shoulder boards are for Bavaria’s 2. Württembergisches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr 29, Prinzregent Luitpold von Bayern. This regiment was founded in 1736. It was garrisoned at Ludwigsburg and attached to Württemberg’s XIII. Armeekorps. I would like to stress that this is a best guess. The Artillerie had only one other Generaloberst and HE was Prussian. It is highly probable that this was an honorary rank for the man who served as the Regimental Chef for the regiment that was named after him.
These shoulder boards would make an important addition to ANY collection.