Pickelhaube Characteristics & Rank Guide
Rank Explanation
Mannschaften - The soldiers of the lowest ranks. These are often referred to in English as "Other Ranks" or "Enlisted", so the German term of Mannschaften will be used to avoid confusion. These helmets were Crown property and issued to the soldier through the unit Quarter Master. These helmets met strict AKO (Imperial German Army Regulations) regarding construction and features. All soldiers up to and including the rank of Sergeant wore the Mannschaften helmet with the standard issue Mannschaften Kokarde. Senior NCOs at the level of Vizefeldwebe, Feldwebel, and Offizierstellvertreter could also wear a standard issue Pickelhaube with the 'Unteroffizier mit Portepee Kokarden' but often wore an Eigentums-helm (see below). Please click HERE for a detailed list of NCO ranks.
Eigentums-helm, (also known as Extra-helm or Eigetumsstück) were Pickelhauben that were privately purchased by an individual. "Eigentum" translates as "Property", indicating the item was private property. An Eigentums-helm could be purchased by any soldier dependant upon the wealth of the individual, but they were (almost!) always purchased for wear by Einjährig-Freiwilliger (One year volunteer) and Fähnrich. Eigentums-helm are of a much higher quality than a standard Mannschaften helmet and often utilize many features normally found on officer's helmets. For this reason they are very often misidentified as officer, NCO, or One Year Volunteer helmets when in fact, the original owner could have been a Private.

It should be stressed here, that Eigentums-helm are the most commonly altered helmets on the collector market. It is not unusual for an individual to take a beautiful Eigentums-helm like the Sachsen example shown here, and add officer stars to the spike base or an officer pattern spike to "up-grade" the helmet to officer standard.
Officer- A commissioned officer holding a rank from Lieutenant to General. The quality of helmets within these ranks depends 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. General grade helmets will not be addressed in this page. Officer pattern helmets were 'usually' worn by NCOs in an officer's appointment (Feldwebelleutnant) and often worn by choice, by Vizefeldwebel and Feldwebel. Details on these ranks can be found on the section above on Mannschaftenshelm.