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The Line Pickelhaube
The intent of this page is to show a few examples of leather Pickelhaube worn prior to the end of the German Empire in November 1918. To show one of every pattern for all the contingents in every rank would be impossible and involve hundreds of examples. The variety in the various characteristics such as Wappen (front plate) on Pickelhaube is enormous and this page hopes to serve only as an introduction.
To determine rank and identify specific features or characteristics on the leather Pickelhaube such as Wappen, spike patterns, etc please refer to the "Pickelhaube Characteristics & Rank Guide" in the main reference section of Kaiser's Bunker. For information on the evolution of the Preußen Pickelhaube please refer to the "Preußen Pickelhaube Evolution" page also in the main references.
Line Infantry Mannschaften
The foot-troops issued Mannschaften (Other Ranks) M1895 Pickelhaube shown here was the final pre-1914 evolution in a long series of spiked helmets. It was manufactured from boiled leather, lacquered black, and provided with fittings made of brass or German silver dependant upon the Regt. The protection it offered was very limited and led to the eventual replacement by a steel helmet in 1916. To reduce the reflection of the brass or silver fittings, all ranks were issued with cloth Überzug (helmet cover) in 1892 with the Regimental number in red on the front. In 1914 the color of the number was changed to dark green and in 1915 it was removed. The example shown here is for Füsilier Regt. Nr. 73, X.Armee-Korps.
The Wappen (front plate) and other characteristics on Pickelhaube vary widely and are best explained by the "Pickelhaube Characteristics & Rank Guide" available through the index. Additionally, for your convenience, overall uniform descriptions for all Regiments and Battalions (Except Bavaria) are detailed (for 1914 only) in the "Regiment/Battalion Uniform Details Charts" links at the bottom of this page.

Below is an abbreviated list of contingents that utilized some form of Pickelhaube after 1842:
  • 1842 - Preußen (Prussia);
  • 1843 - Oldenburg;
  • 1846 - Hesse-Darmstadt;
  • 1849 - Baden;
  • 1848 - Mecklenburg-Schwerin;
  • 1867 - Sachsen (Saxony);
  • 1871 - Württemberg;
  • 1886 - Bayern (Bavaria);
  • 1886 - Braunschweig;
  • 1903 - Preußen, Sachsen, & Württemberg Train (Supply).
Many units (not all) were authorized to wear a helmet Trichter and Haarbusch (parade plume) on parade. Mannschaften (Other Ranks) utilized horse-hair in white, black, or red (for musicians), while officers utilized white or black yak-hair. The spike tops for these helmets for all ranks, are removable to enable a Trichter to be mounted. Removable spike tops are found in all patterns of Pickelhaube.
Line Foot Officer
The Pickelhaube of commissioned officers holding a rank from Lieutenant to Colonel are all identical in features, but not quality. The quality of helmets within these ranks depended entirely on how much the individual wished to spend. A lowly Lieutenant's helmet may be of much higher quality than one worn by a Colonel. As expected, officer helmets were of a much higher quality than the issued version and utilized the "squared finger" liners until 1880 when the internal leather sweatband and silk skull-cap came into use. Regardless of the unit, officer Pickelhaube share common features such as: the undersides of visors are lined, Officer Kokarden are carried, and the "egg & dart" Perlring was matched with star-pattern spike base brads, and chinscales were worn.

The officer's Pickelhaube was basically unchanged from 1871 to 1899 when it had a more domed shape, and from 1899 to the end it had more of a skull shape. Otherwise, with the exception of the addition of the Reich's Kokarde in 1897, the officer's Haube was the same from 1871 to 1918.
Preußen (Prussian) Garde Pickelhaube carried a distinctive swept-wing eagle Wappen (front plate). Four basic patterns of Wappen can be found on Garde Pickelhaube, issued, and several levels of Eigentums-helm, (privately purchased). All of the patterns are shown in the "Pickelhaube Characteristics & Rank Guide" available through the index. Generally, Garde Mannschaften (Other Ranks) after 1891 wore flat chinscales in garrison and replaced them with the M91 leather chinstrap in the field. The example shown here is a Preußen Garde Infantry Officer's Pickelhaube for 2. Garde - Regt zu Fuß, Garde - Korps.
The Garde - Korps included Pickelhaube-wearing troops such as: Infantry, Train (Supply), Feldartillerie (Field Artillery), Fußartillerie (Foot Artillery), Dragoner (Mounted Rifle), Pionier (Pioneer), and Eisenbahn etc. All are found with some form of Garde eagle Wappen in gilt or German silver dependant upon the unit.
For officer Pickelhaube, the spike height would gradually increase throughout the life of the Pickelhaube until it began reaching excessive proportions as illustrated in the period photograph of Prinz Oscar von Preußen (son of Kaiser Wilhelm II).
Reserve Pickelhaube carry a variety of cross on the Wappen (front plate). As a general rule, the cross replaces the Bandeau with the contingent's motto, but exceptions exist, probably in the desire to use up existing stocks. The German Army had four distinct classifications of military service; Active, Reserve, Landwehr, and Landsturm. At the age of 17, a young man could be called upon to serve in the Landsturm. At the age of 20, all men began an obligatory 2 year period of Active service in the Army, or 3 years for the Artillery or Cavalry. Upon completion of this service, a man would be liable to serve the next 4 to 5 years in the Reserve. After the Reserve period, the soldier-citizen was then expected to serve in the Landwehr for the next 11 years until the age of 45 when he was then free from further military service. Generally, the Reserve, Landwehr and Landsturm were only mobilized during times of war.
All Pionier Battalions of the German empire in 1914 including the kingdom of Bayern (Bavaria) wore a leather Pickelhaube with German silver fittings and gilt chinscales. After 1891 Mannschaften (Other Ranks) wore a leather chinstrap with silver fittings. Garde Pionier wore a Garde pattern eagle Wappen, (front plate), all other contingents wore their regular state Wappen in silver.
A Pionier Einjährig-Freiwilliger (One year volunteer) wears an Eigetumsstück (private purchase) Pickelhaube in this photograph. Mannschaften (Other Ranks) who purchased an Eigetumsstück Pickelhaube, normally wore the helmet with chinscales when off the garrison.
Train (Supply)
Mannschaften (Other Ranks) in all Train (Supply) Battalions of the German empire wore a leather Jäger pattern Tschako with gilt Wappen (front plate) until 1903. Officers in all Battalions, however, never wore the Tschako and wore a Line Pickelhaube with gilt fittings with curved mounted-troops chinscales. In 1903 all Mannschaften adopted the M1895 Pickelhaube with gilt fittings. Garde Train wore a Garde pattern eagle Wappen, (front plate) while all other contingents wore their state Wappens in gilt. Like the Feld Artillerie, curved mounted-troops chinscales were worn at all times right into the Great War. This Mannschaften (Other Ranks) Model 1895 example is marked to Baden Train Abteilung 14.
For both Train above, and Dragoner (Dragoons) below, in 1894 the Infantry pattern mounts for removable chinscales were adopted, however the chinscales remained rounded. In 1914 special leather chinstraps with wider M1891 mounts were introduced to replace the gilt chinscales in the field, however, their use appears to have been the exception, as photographs as late as 1916 show chinscales still being worn by Artillerie, Train, and Dragoner.
Dragoner (Dragoons)
Mannschaften (Other Ranks) and officers in all Dragoner (Mounted Infantry) Regts of the German empire wore a leather Pickelhaube with gilt or German fittings dependant upon the Regt. Although Line foot units such as Infantry adopted the round spike base and visor in 1867, Dragoner (Dragoons) continued to use cruciform spike bases and squared front visors. Garde Dragoner Regts wore a Garde pattern eagle Wappen, (front plate) while all other contingents wore their state Wappens. The exception is Hesse-Darmstadt Dragoner as detailed below. Curved mounted-troops chinscales were worn at all times including into the Great War.

A Preußen Dragoner with M1894 Dragoner Pickelhaube with brass chinscales being worn in 1915.

Großherzoglich Mecklenburgisches Dragoner-Regt.
Nr.17 or 18.

A Preußen Dragon (Private) wearing an elegant private purchase Dragoner Pickelhaube.
Hessen Pickelhaube are unique in that all ranks utilized a combination of a cruciform spike base with rounded front visors in gilt or German fittings dependant upon the Regiment. Unlike other Pickelhaubes with cruciform spike bases where the front arm on the cruciform is typically 1/2 the length of the other arms, on Hessen helmets the "arms" on the cruciform spike base appear to be equal in length. However, the front arm is actually a tiny bit shorter and always orientated to the front. Except for Hessen Pickelhaube, only civilian Police and Fire Department Pickelhauben utilized this unique combination.

Hessen officer Pickelhaube are also unique in that in addition to the cruciform spike base with a rounded front visors, Hessen officers did not wear a Perlring (ring of pearls) around the neck of the spike, and utilized rounded studs on the cruciform spike base instead of the typical officer stars.
Military Pickelhaube with mis-matched front visor & spike base
Only two patterns of military Pickelhaube carry the unique combination of a visor and spike base that do not match. A round front visor with a cruciform spike base is found only on Hessen Pickelhaube (above) and a squared front visor with round spike base as worn by the Württemberg Landjäger Korps shown here to the left who were a form of field police.

No other military helmet utilized a spike base and visor which did not match in shape.
Civil Helmets
Many other Pickelhaube existed within the German Reich that were not connected to the military. These helmets are Police, Fire Dept, Customs, or other civil departments. These helmets carry the combination of a round front visor with a square spike base, or a squared front visor with a round spike base which are not found on military Pickelhaube. This photo shows a Zoll (Land Customs) official wearing the standard Zoll Pickelhaube with a round front visor and a square spike base.
This photo shows a Berlin Police officer wearing the standard Police Pickelhaube with a round front visor and a square spike base. These civil helmets are very often incorrectly identified as military. Civilian Pickelhaube are an extensive subject and individuals who are interested in this form of Pickelhaube would be better served by consulting references specific to this area of study.
In accordance with the 1915 regulations Pickelhaube would no longer would use brass, silver, or Tombak. All issued Pickelhaube would now use grey oxidized steel fittings for all Regiments. For units such as cavalry etc that wore brass or Tombak chinscales, these were replaced with a M91 leather chinstrap. The spike was now removable and fit into a corresponding bayonet-style lug on the round spike base as shown on this Model 1915 Saxon Infantry Pickelhaube.
Regiment/Battalion Uniform Details Charts

The following links will present charts listing the majority of Regiments and Battalions of the Pre-1914 Imperial German Army (except Artillery and all Bavarian units) that wore a leather Pickelhaube. Each chart will present specific details of the uniform and helmet for each unit.
These charts will all open in a new window.
Infantry Regiments Pionier (Pioneer) Dragoner (Mounted Rifle) Train (Supply)
Verkehrstruppen (Telegraph, Flieger, Eisenbahn etc)
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