GERMANY – TUNIC – IDENTIFIED Steinmüller – NAVY OFFICER – KORVETTENKAPITÄITN – WHITE
We recently acquired a small collection of items from the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine). Each of these are in the much rarer summer weight WHITE. While the entire German Navy wore white during summer months as opposed to dark blue in the winter due to the weight of the fabric it is entirely possible it was worn by Navy personnel in China and Africa as we will point out shortly.
This tunic is made of a fine quality linen. Linen is made from spinning flax. Until cotton was imported to Europe from the U.S., linen was more commonly used in Europe. With the introduction of the cotton gin to the South, cotton became much cheaper to produce. Another feature of linen is that is lighter and dries more quickly especially when it came to perspiration. I would also add that linen would have been less expensive in China than cotton as it could be woven locally and more inexpensively as opposed to being imported from the U.S. This is why I think that there is a strong possibility that this tunic was produced in China and to a lesser extent in East Africa as the German Navy had a greater presence in China.
This is especially true as the Germans had their East Asian Squadron headquartered in China. Vizeadmiral Graf von Spee was the final commander of the squadron and sailed it back to Germany where he had his fateful meeting with the British at the Battle of Falklands where he, his two sons, and the bulk of the German fleet were eliminated.
To begin our description:
- This tunic has six large brass buttons down the center with the crowned fouled anchor of the Kaiserliche Marine.
- There are three sets of sewn in loops on the left side. One on the chest pocket and two lower below that pocket. One can only speculate what decorations were worn on this tunic. A 1914 Iron Cross 1st Class is most likely. Another (or both) could have been a 1914 Iron Cross 1st Class equivalent from other states.
- Surprisingly there are no medal loops for a medal bar above the pocket.
- Aside from the pocket at the top which has a flap there are two more at the hip with no flaps.
For display purposes only we are showing the tunic with decorations attached. These DO NOT come with the tunic.
The shoulder boards are for a Korvettenkapitän.
- This rank would be equivalent to a Major in the German army.
- The underlay of the shoulder boards is a dark blue as is correct.
- The shoulder boards are of the slip on variety.
- Each is secured by a small brass button which also bears the crowned fouled anchor.
The name “Steinmüller” is stenciled in the interior on the neck.
This would make for a start in doing some research of the original owner. For him to accumulate so many decorations my thinking is that he returned to Germany before WW I began and held other positions in the Navy such as commanding his own ship or possibly a higher ranking officer on a larger ship or ashore.
The overall condition of the tunic is quite pleasing. The only issue is some yellowing in areas of the tunic due to age. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a very rare Summer weight tunic to a mid-ranking Naval officer.