Pickelhaube Characteristics & Rank Guide
Helmet Classifications
It may clarify the differences in the above groups by placing them into a hierarchical list. To keep it simple (if that is possible) I have made seven classifications of Pickelhauben in regards to rank. Six for non-commissioned soldiers and one those that wore a pure 'officer' Pickelhaube.
  • Mannschaften (Other Ranks) issued pattern. Worn by:Private to Sergeant.

  • Mannschaften Eigentums-helm (private purchase). Worn by: Private to Sergeant. Externally these often appear to be issue, but have officer quality liners.

  • NCO issued pattern (with Unteroffizier mit Portepee Kokarden). Worn by: Feldwebel , Vizefeldwebel, and Offizierstellvertreter from 1867 to 1915 (?)

  • NCO Eigentums-helm (private purchase) (with Unteroffizier mit Portepee Kokarden). Worn by: Feldwebel, Vizefeldwebel, and Offizierstellvertreter from 1867 to 1915 (?).

  • Eigentums-helm (private purchase) worn by Einjährig-Freiwilliger (One-Year Volunteers) with Mannschaften Kokarden. Regulations state that Einjährig-Freiwilliger were not authorized to wear officer Kokarden. This helmet was also was worn by Fähnrich (Officer-Candidate) prior to passing the Officers' examination.

  • Eigentums-helm worn by Fähnrich (Officer-Candidate) with officer Kokarden. Fähnrich were the only non-commissioned soldiers authorized to wear officer Kokarden, but only after passing the officer's examination. This pattern helmet is often only identifiable by round spike brads on the spike base or lack of an officer pattern Perlring on the spike neck. If the owner opted for officer pattern stars on the spike base and an officer pattern Perlring on the spike neck, then it is identical to an officer helmet.

  • Regulation officer pattern worn by commissioned officers and Feldwebelleutnant (NCOs in an officer's appointment 1914 to 1918).
Confused yet? The table below shows the primary differences between issue Mannschaften, Senior NCO (Unteroffizier mit Portepee), Fähnriche (Officer-Candidate) , officer, and Eigentums Pickelhauben (privately purchased) worn by anyone below the rank of commissioned officer. Each of these areas is looked at in detail in this guide, but this should serve as a general 'road-map'.
Rank Mannschaften issued helmet worn by:

Private to Sergeant
with Mannschaften Kokarde

Vize-Feldwebel, Feldwebel and Offizierstellvertreter
with Unteroffizier mit Portepee Kokarden
Eigentums-helm worn by:

Eigentums-helm worn by:

-Mannschaften Private to Feldwebel
-Einjährig-Freiwilliger (One-Year Volunteers)
-*Fähnriche only*
Issue stamps Yes No No
Kokarden -Issue Pattern -Officer Pattern -Issue Pattern
-Unteroffizier mit Portepee Pattern
*Officer Pattern*
Helmwappen Crown -Solid -Voided -Solid
Perlring -Ball Pattern to 1887
-Ring 1887 to 1915
-Officer Pattern -Ring
-Ball Pattern
-Officer Pattern
Spike Base Mounts -Domed -Stars -Domed
Visor Trim -Wide & Flat -Rounded & Thin -Rounded & Thin
Rear Spine -Plain to 1895
-Plain -Plain
Chinscale Mounts -Screw Post to 1887
-M87 Hook
-M91 Lug
-Rosette -Screw Post to 1887
-M87 Hook
-M91 Lug
Visor Undersides -Plain -Lined in green & red
-Plain for Diensthelme (service helmets worn in the field)
-Lined in green & red
Liner -Leather Tongue -Squared Leather tongue to 1880
-Calf Skin & Silk after 1880
-Squared Leather tongue
-Calf Skin & Silk
Base Material -Brass
-German Silver (Nickel)
-Gilded Brass or Zinc
-Silver Wash Brass or Zinc
-Gilded Brass or Zinc
-German Silver (Nickel)
-Silver Wash Brass or Zinc
A common misconception is that a helmet's quality reflects the rank. The only truth to this, is that an officer would never wear an issued helmet due to status and regulations. However, Mannschaften (Other Ranks) could wear an officer quality helmet as long as it met certain parameters. A solider could opt to purchase a Eigentums-Helm with an updated liner for comfort, but the exterior, however, had to meet with regulations. To add to the confusion, an Einjährig-Freiwilliger could wear an Eigentums-helm with almost any possible combination of features. For this reason, characteristics of helmets in this discussion will be referred to for clarity as either:
  • "issue" as worn by the Mannschaften (soldiers to the rank or Sergeant) and Senior NCOs to Feldwebel (with differences mentioned in the chart above) , or as

  • "Eigentums-helm" (privately purchased) as worn by Mannschaften (Other Ranks) from Private to Sergeant, Senior NCOs to Feldwebel, Einjährig-Freiwilliger, officers, and Fähnriche.