The Officer Rear Spine

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b.loree
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The Officer Rear Spine

Post by b.loree » Fri Feb 06, 2015 2:22 pm

There was a question that came up on another thread concerning the officer spine which led to a short discussion about the many varieties that can be found. So, as usual I got to thinking and because I have a few examples, I am making this post with pictures. Obviously, as collectors you are not in the habit of removing the fittings from your helmets. On the other hand, because I do restorations, I have to remove fittings and I often take pictures of what I find. In addition, I have collected for over 20 years and have purchased some bits and pieces along the way.
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In the first foto we have the typical officer spine, 2 soldered split brads which hold the spine to the shell and a smaller flat headed brad which goes up through a hole in the rear visor to fasten that part of the spine. The arms of this little flat brad are flattened out against the visor and hidden by the spine itself. On the higher quality officer helmets, we often see the size number embossed into the head of this brad.

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In foto #2 we see an interesting variety of screw post and split brad combinations. Lets start from the top of the row and make some observations. On spine #1 we see a screw post, and a soldered split brad mid way down the spine. Unlike the others, this spine has a tang end which fits under the spike base, this is very unusual and more like an OR's spine. The end which curls around the visor edge has no hook or flat brad to secure it. Again this is "different", and it is also shorter than the others.
On spine #2 we have a screw post, 2 soldered split brads (can't be seen ) and a single "hook" which is meant to hold the end of the spine to the visor.
Spine #3 which is from a cruciform base helmet...no screw post, 2 soldered split brads and a flat head visor brad on the end.
Spine #4 screw post 2 split brads and a missing flat brad

Another foto of an officer spine from an older helmet. Note the visor brad has a domed head and the soldered split brad is thicker than the previous ones.
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Next 3 examples of spines from cruciform base officer helmets, all with different characteristics! The cruciform spine almost always, is cut in a V shape as can be seen so that the rear most star stud can fit down into the shell and secure the rear arm of the cross to the shell top.

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All of these have different widths, 2 have hook end fasteners and the other a flat brad. Even the shape and length of the "tang" ends that go round the rear visor are different.
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Last, a white metal spine from a Wurttemberg Dragoon officer helmet. A cruciform base helmet but surprisingly, no V cut in the end and no "hook" brad to fasten it to the rear visor.
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This concludes my little foto essay. We have examined 10 different spines and seen that each was different in its own way. Unfortunately, I have no example of the "size brad" spine to add to this. Perhaps, a member can add a picture of one to this post.

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This spine found on a recent restoration (Prussian Arty Officer) has a screw post, 3 split prongs and flat head brad. This is the highest number of fasteners that I have ever seen. If you look closely, you can see that this flat head brad has the size 56 1/2 on it.
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Re: The Officer Rear Spine

Post by edwin » Fri Feb 06, 2015 3:49 pm

This keeps amazing me because this is another example of the many variations that exist of an item despite the army regulations. Thanks for sharing :D

Regards,

Edwin

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Re: The Officer Rear Spine

Post by joerookery » Fri Feb 06, 2015 4:01 pm

It's not only regulations but there is a complete misunderstanding of the Probe system. Long ago in the past one member in particular got particularly upset about different manufacturer use of Probe. This is a great example. Really a wonderful example. Same war ministry. Different manufacturers. Same regulation. There really was a lot of autonomy especially between different Army Corps.
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Re: The Officer Rear Spine

Post by Khukri » Fri Feb 06, 2015 4:15 pm

Great thread-again.
priceless!
Francis

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Re: The Officer Rear Spine

Post by joerookery » Fri Feb 06, 2015 4:16 pm

This is a great thread! :bravo: I
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Re: The Officer Rear Spine

Post by Leone » Fri Feb 06, 2015 4:26 pm

Very useful information for the beginner. Thank's a lot!

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Re: The Officer Rear Spine

Post by b.loree » Fri Feb 06, 2015 7:19 pm

Many thanks guys! These posts take a little bit of work but I am very lucky to have the parts on hand and also pics of fittings that have passed through my hands. Were there probes of officer helmets? I guess so but I have only seen probes of OR helmets for government approval. Regarding private purchase, my impression is that providing it looked regulation from the outside, then anything else was fair game.
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Re: The Officer Rear Spine

Post by poniatowski » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:38 pm

If I remember my German correctly, 'Probe' means 'test' or 'trial', which could be translated perhaps into a minimum standard that manufacturers had to meet. If this were the case, then the latitude for how details were designed might be fairly broad. Perhaps similar to U.S. Army insignia and badges. For example, an officer could purchase 'bright' metal for his wings or sterling sliver. There are also slight dimensional and quality differences in some of the details by different manufacturers of battalion crests for example. We also saw this in privately purchased uniforms such as the (old) dress blues, hats and such.
What I really like is that an enlisted man could private purchase as good a quality helmet as he desired.

Also, agreed, great information!

:D Ron
I really do need to know more about this....

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