This is one of the most interesting pairs of shoulder boards that I have ever offered you. If I said they were rare, that would be an understatement! To begin, they are the M 1888 model. What makes them so special is that each is housed within a foul weather/camouflaged COVER. [You will remember that virtually all forms of Imperial German Headdress (pickelhauben, kugelhelme, etc.) had canvas covers that served to protect them helmet from foul weather AND provided as camouflage. Beginning in 1915, all shoulder boards placed into service were required to display subdued cloth exteriors. In many cases, they also sported subdued rank pips, subdued regimental designations, and even subdued royal cyphers]. These foul weather shoulder board covers are constructed of light linen or canvas. They have been stitched into place, so (for obvious reasons) we will not remove them. [We also urge their future owner to leave the covers in place]. Through the covers we can see and feel the “2″ that stands for Reserve Infanterie Regiment Nr 2. I do NOT feel any officer’s pips, but from the feel of the bullion underneath the cover, I believe them to be for a Major.
The shoulder boards have a slightly curved shape that proves they were mounted onto a tunic. If we look at their reverse, we can see the cotton thread stitching that keeps the covers in place. Protruding through the cover is a white strap that served as the mounting point for the slip-on shoulder board. [This provides an additional clue that the shoulder boards are for a Major rather than a Leutnant. Junior officers tended to have their shoulder boards sewn into their tunics]. We can also see a bit of the white underlay if we peek under the cover.
This is a definite first for Der Rittmeister Militaria! These gorgeous shoulder boards were previously owned by and featured in Michael A. Kelso’s recently released reference book Under Arms for the Kaiser: Shoulder Insignia of the German Army’s Regiments 1871 1918 on page 20. Having a piece of militaria that has been featured in a reference book (particularly one as fine as this) is a real plus, and seriously increases their value. We strongly recommend that you acquire this book while you can. The first edition is nearly sold out. As is the case with any reference book, a second edition is NOT guaranteed. Mike, who is a longtime friend, put his heart and soul into this book to help his fellow collectors. PLEASE support him and our other recommended authors: Jim Turinetti with his superb books on Imperial German headdresses, and Jeff Judge, who recently produced the first book of a three volume set about the Kaiserliche Marine. These men have poured a lot of sweat and tears into their works, all of which are worthy of inclusion in your library.