German Spiked Helmet Pickelhaube Rank Identification
Pickelhaube Characteristics & Rank Guide
It is important to understand that the only actual rank indicators on a Pickelhaube are the Kokarden on the sides of the helmet under the chinstraps or chinscales. This includes both the state Kokarden and the Reich's-Kokarde in Red-White-Black which was introduced for all ranks in 1897. To the right you will find an overview of the evolution of the Kokarden, with a few examples of the different patterns that identify rank
Above are shown the three different patterns of Preußen (Prussian) Kokarden that identify rank. The Mannschaften (Other Ranks) issue Kokarde is constructed on one piece of metal without an additional ring. The Unteroffizier mit Portepee Kokarde is what is commonly called the "NCO Kokarde", however, Unteroffizier and Sergeant wore Mannschaften Kokarde, so the term "NCO Kokarde" really does not work.

The Kokarde only worn by Unteroffizier mit Portepee entitled to wear the officer's sword knot (center) has an additional ring with a distinctive diagonal ribbing (similar to that worn by officers prior to 1867). The post-1867 officer Kokarde is constructed of a base plate with an additional "double ring" metal ring on top.
Contingent Kokarden of the Kingdoms, Grand Duchies, Principalities,
and Free Hanseatic cities of the Empire.
The evolution of the Preußen Kokarde:

  • Officers, Fähnrich -75mm leather Kokarde w/ silver metal ring
  • Vizefeldwebel and below -75mm Leather Kokarde
  • Officers, Fähnrich, plus now Portepee-Unteroffiiziere -75mm Leather Kokarde w/ silver metal ring
  • Sergeant and below - 75mm Leather Kokarde
  • Officers, Fähnrich, Portepee-Unteroffiiziere -75mm silk Kokarde with silver painted ring although 1844 Kokarde used concurrently.
  • Sergeant and below - 75mm Painted wool Kokarde
  • "Deutsche Kokarde" introduced worn on the left side of the helmet. Terminated in 1851.
  • Officers, Fähnrich,Portepee-Unteroffiiziere -75mm Stamped metal Kokarde with silver affixed ring
  • Sergeant and below - 75mm Stamped painted metal Kokarde
  • Officers, Fähnrich- New 55 mm Kokarde with "twin rings" on the silver affixed ring (Note: This could have occurred in 1871. The exact date is not yet confirmed)
  • Portepee-Unteroffiiziere -Retained the 1857 officer's Kokarde, but reduced to 51mm, the "Unteroffizier mit Portepee Kokarde"
  • Mannschaften Kokarden for Sergeant and below - 51mm Stamped painted metal Kokarde
  • Mannschaften Kokarde for Sergeant and below receives an additional hole under the center for the M87 chinstrap mounts.
  • Mannschaften Kokarde for Sergeant and below and " Unteroffizier mit Portepee Kokarde" receive an enlarged center hole for the M91 chinstrap mounts
  • Reich's Kokarden introduced for all ranks to be worn on the right side of the helmet.
  • State Kokarden moved to the left side.
  • Mannschaften and "NCO" Kokarden reduced to 48mm.

Above are shown three of the other patterns of Kokarden that can be encountered. The Mannschaften issue Kokarde for Sachsen (Saxony) is round with a non-serrated edge. The Mannschaften issued Kokarde for Hessen is also round with a non-serrated edge, but has two distinct painted inner rings. The officer Baden Kokarde is constructed from one piece of non-serrated metal without an additional ring and is of a "ribbon" or "waffle" pattern. This pattern of officer Kokarde was also worn by Anhalt and Württemberg.