Original Imperial German WWI Prussian M1895 Ersatz Felt Pickelhaube Spiked Helmet with Dedication Plaque

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Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is only the second of these that we have had! When WWI broke out, there was a great need for additional helmets and equipment for the mobilization. A shortage of cow hide from Argentina combined with the excessive draw upon German industry to outfit the massive army being mobilized, resulted in a severe shortage of leather for manufacturing Pickelhauben. To meet with this immediate shortage, the Germans began in 1914 manufacturing helmets from Ersatz (substitute) materials.

As the felt hat manufacturing industry was well established in Germany for hundreds of years, the hat industry stepped in to fill the void by producing Pickelhaube out of pressed and blocked felt, manufactured from rabbit fur or shredded wool. One advantage to the Filzhelme (felt helmets) was that they were normally pressed from one-piece of felt which significantly reduced production time. There were various variations produced, depending on when they were made and what materials for fittings were available at the time. First the brass M1895 fittings were used up, and then in 1915 the Filzhelm switched to the oxide coated steel. There are many examples of Ersatz helmet with both brass and steel fittings.

This is a very good condition Imperial Prussian line Infantry enlisted man's Mannschaften (other ranks) Ersatz (replacement) felt pickelhaube, with leather front and rear visors. It displays lovely condition brass Prussian spread eagle helmet plate and comes complete with supple original leather liner. The spike on top denotes infantry issue and retains correct brass chinstrap lugs, cockades, and leather chin strap.

As with many Ersatz items, it is a bit non-standard in construction. It has the correct vent on the rear spine for an enlisted helmet, however the top spike is not removable, and instead the top portion screws off, so that a plume could be installed. Even more noticeable is the lovely gold-colored alloy frontplate (wappen) with the Prussian state eagle clutching a scepter and crown. The Preußen issued Wappen in 1895 were intended to be made out of Tombak (an alloy made from a combination of copper and zinc) but it seems that the copper-color was unpopular and they were soon replaced with Aluminiumbronze which has a very bright brass appearance.

This wappen definitely looks to be the brighter alloy, but instead of having the King's Motto in a banner, there is an attached plaque over an "Iron Cross" emblem, usually seen on Reserve and Landwehr pickelhaube. The plaque also has a very interesting inscription on it:

Für Auszeichnung
d.vormalig Königl. Schwedischen Leibregt Königin

We're fairly certain on the letters, but some words are abbreviated, so we were not able to accurately translate it. It appears to say "For Award" and then something about the former Swedish King and Queen. Definitely worthy of further research!

The helmet is complete with the Prussian (black and white) and German National Colors (red white and black) kokarden (cockades) around the chin strap lugs. In 1897 the new Reichs-Kokarde in Red-White-Black was introduced for all ranks to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kaiser Wilhelm 1st. The Reichs-Kokarde was to be worn on the right side of the helmet, and the state Kokarde was moved to the left, as on this helmet. They are held on with a correct complete leather chin strap with brass fittings.

The exterior of the helmet is in very good condition, with no major moth damage or other issues. There is dirt in areas as well as some stains, as expected from a helmet over 100 years in age. This example has front vizor brass trim in very good condition, with just a bit of rippling. Later versions of the Felt Helmets would have felt visors with rolled over edges. The internal liner is in good condition, with a partially fully top strap. It does show wear, but overall the helmet is relatively large, probably a 58-59 size.

Overall a very nice condition Imperial Prussian Ersatz Felt pickelhaube, a great addition to any collection. Ready to research and display!

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