GERMANY – CIGARETTE/CIGAR BOX – WITH PRINZENGROßE ARMY PILOT BADGE – SILVER HALLMARKED – JASTA 11 – LEUTNANT DER RESERVE HANS HINTSCH
This is an amazing piece of WW I aviation history. It is a beautifully constructed silver cigarette/cigar box, dedicated to a pilot from the famed Jasta 11. On the top of the box we see engraved:
- Leutnant Hintsch.
- Below that is a handsome Prinzengroße Prussian Army Pilot Badge.
- Below that is the date 24 April 1917
- The final line proclaims “JAGDSTAFFEL 11″
The exterior of the box is stepped with three different levels. Upon opening we see that the box is lined in cedar. Cedar is the preferred material for protecting cigars and cigarettes from drying out. It is also used in the form of a spel for lighting cigars. In my own cigars I use cedar extensively to protect my cigars and I use a spel for lighting them. Use of cedar and proper humidity control can protect fine cigars for years
On the bottom of the box we see that it is hallmarked for .925 silver content (An unusually high fineness of silver as .800 is more common and this is even more interesting for 1917 as silver supplies were running short.) And has a half moon which is a part of the Imperial fineness hallmarking. There is also a manufacturer hallmark which I am not familiar with. This officer knew quality and was prepared to pay for it. Clearly his being a member of Jasta 11 was a great source of pride and may have helped him in procuring such a fine box.
Now that we have explored the details of this gorgeous box, let us now explore the man who commissioned it and owned it. Little is known about Leutnant Hans der reserve Hintsch. He was born in Bremen in 1894. Beyond his participation in Jasta 11 I have learned nothing about him before he joined the Jasta. He joined the Jasta on 11 October 1916, prior to the arrival of Manfred von Richthofen in January 1917 (Shortly after his award of the Pour le Mérite.). The date of 24. April 1917 is key to the box. One of the most famous photographs of Manfred von Richthofen shows him with all the pilots of Jasta 11. He is seated in the center and the other men are gathered around and behind him. This photograph was taken on yes 4. April 1917.
One other thing about April 1917. It became know as “Bloody April.” It was a month where the RFC suffered one of its greatest losses of men and aircraft in a single month. A total of 245 British planes were shot down with Jasta 11 alone accounting for 89 of them! This was more than 1/3 (36% actually) of all the planes shot down by the Germans in April 1917.
Our time is limited in research and this could be a great research project for the new owner. Suffice it to say that we have found at least three photographs with Hintsch in them. This includes the famous photograph we have mentioned and which we will include with the photos of the box that accompany this description.
We have learned that Hintsch gained his first victory while with another unit. From the time he joined the Jasta in October 1916 Hintsch did not shoot down another plane until 13 May 1917. This was his second kill (A Nieuport) and his first since joining the squadron. His final victory came on 23 May 1917 over a Sopwith Triplane. He himself would fall the following day.
In conclusion over the last several years we have had great difficulty in acquiring aviation items. We recently had a magnificent silver Ehrenbecher along with its presentation base. This sold within 24 hours of being posted.
This box has the advantage of being connected to the most famous fighter squadron of WW I during a period where it and its pilots gained great fame.