PRUSSIA – PICKELHAUBE – OFFICER – TRICHTER AND PARADE FEATHERS
One helmet that we are frequently asked about is the Prussian General Officer’s Parade Pickelhaube with the trichter and parade feathers rather than the service spike. To be honest, they do NOT appear very often. The General’s Pickelhaube with spike is rare enough, but a spiked helmet with its parade feathers and trichter, constitutes a stupendous find!
Today we are offering just such a gem! The helmet’s fine leather body is in good condition overall, with some spidering/cracking on its back. The front visor is squared, which is a requirement for a General’s Pickelhaube. The helmet’s furniture is all brass (silver is for a General à la Suite), including the chin scales, trim, large cruciform base, officers’ stars, and, of course, the fluted trichter on which the parade feathers are mounted. [PLEASE NOTE: I just learned a new fact about the chin scales from my pickelhaube guru. The chin scales are arched (convex), which is normally what one sees on a Kavallerie helmets. HOWEVER, the General’s pickelhaube was based on a Dragoner helmet, so it kept its cavalry-style chin scales even if he was from the Infanterie or Artillerie. general. While I have owned many General’s helmets in the past, for some reason this just never dawned on me. It just goes to show that you can always learn something new]!
As one peers underneath the helmet’s feathers, one is immediately captivated by its Garde/Grenadier-style eagle with outspread wings. They are so wide that they extend to either kokarde’s midpoint. Once you have admired the eagle’s expanse, your attention is captured by the Garde Star in the center of its chest. It consists of a silver sunburst that features a smaller, black and gold enamel Hohenzollern Eagle against a white enamel background. The ring encircling the smaller eagle features the Garde-Regiments’ Latin motto “Suum Cuique” (To Each his Own”) in gold enamel against the white enamel background. The Garde Star shows years and years of grime and dirt buildup. Both the officer’s State and Reich’s kokarden are present.
Let us NOT forget the parade feathers. They are its original black and white (Prussia’s state colors) cock feathers, NOT newer ones that have been later-added to the trichter. The re-feathering of trichters to preserve a fresh appearance was quite common back in the day. It is still done in the present to perk up a helmet’s appearance. These feathers exhibit a certain limpness that further confirms their age.
The helmet’s interior features a well used, brown, leather sweatband. The beige, ribbed-silk liner also shows substantial wear and a few holes. ALL of the original hardware is visible underneath the silk liner. NO double holes are present where the massive Garde Eagle attaches to the leather body.
Earlier I spoke of the grime and grit visible on the Garde Star’s enamel. Couple that with the condition of the interior’s leather sweatband and silk liner (not to mention the parade feathers), and you have a helmet that was extensively used by its owner. This may not have been his “A” helmet for really important parades, such as those with Kaiser Wilhelm II. It may have been his “B” helmet, for lesser parades where the feathers were installed in place of the spike. [Naturally, this is conjecture on my part]. The point here is that this is a VERY good pickelhaube but not a great one, which is reflected in our price. A really first-rate Prussian General Officer’s pickelhaube with spike can fetch in the neighborhood of $10,000. Ours, with the upgrade of feathers and trichter, constitutes a substantial value!
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, 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].