Lost Skeleton’s Guide to the Pickelhaube Helmbezug

Lost Skeleton

Active member
What follows will be an attempt to shed additional light on the subject of Pickelhaube Helmbezüge by analyzing original field covers, noting their similarities and differences, and placing them in a chronological historical context. This is not intended to be, nor can it be, a definitive evaluation of the subject. However, it should provide a fundamental overview, which may prove of value to the collector and armchair historian alike.

This concept, in embryonic form, was introduced recently in a sister thread. However, the analysis was quickly mired in a priori assumptions and straw man arguments focused exclusively on parsing the AKO directive of 28 January 1897. I would like this second attempt to engender participation, but I don’t want to see it stymied by supposition and contentious egos (mine included).

My primary desire is for the discussion to be collaborative and constructive.

It is necessary to begin with a few words regarding the photography. The digital photographs provided herein were taken with an Olympus SP-350 utilizing the zoom, macro, and super macro lens settings. The camera’s white balance was calibrated to eliminate chroma bias. The field covers where photographed under blue tungsten photoflood bulbs against an opaque neutral background. Photoshop was employed to resize and crop the images, erase background shadows, and, when necessary, correct exposure and focus. However, no color correction was performed.

Even with this diligence, it will be apparent immediately how significantly the color will vary from picture to picture. Additionally, because the pages of this forum are white, a black background was selectively employed to provide a more accurate impression of the true color of the artifacts photographed. However, the type of monitor used for viewing (CRT, LCD), and the accuracy of its contrast and gamma settings will also artificially enhance or degrade color fidelity. Therefore, my written descriptions will provide the final word on color as I am assessing the artifacts “from life.”

SECTION I: ISSUED HELMBEZÜGE

Example one, a circa 1892 to 1913 Artillerie Helmbezug, has appeared on the forum previously:

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The helmet and field cover were issued to 2. Lothringisches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 34 of the XVI.AK. The helmet had a long service life, beginning in 1896, and was reissued in 1910 to Kanonier Zimmermann II

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The cover, dated 1913, appears to have been contemporary surplus transferred to the XVI.AK from the VIII.AK (2. Rheinisches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 23). There is no evidence to suggest that regimental numbers were ever sewn to the the cover.

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The Helmbezug cloth is a basket weave of neutral and bundled green and russet colored yarns. Though faded to a dirty tan, the original color was reed-green. The Helm cover is two-panel construction with a side seam joining the fore and aft panels. The spike opening is elasticized. The Kugel hood features an interior leather lining and is attached to the Helm cover with variegated non-elastic cloth twill. The attachment hooks (three in the fore and two aft) are brass. Because the helmet’s rear spine is not ventilated, there is no corresponding vent hole in the cover.

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Example two, a circa 1897 to 1914 Infanterie-Regiment Prinz Friedrich der Niederlande (2. Westfälisches) Nr. 15 Helmbezug, has also been presented to the forum before:

helmbezug.jpg


Like its predecessor, the cloth is a faded basket weave of neutral and bundled green and russet colored yarns. The spike hood features a leather lining and the hooks are brass. A hand stitched opening is present for the Hinterschiene Schiebeklappe. In material and construction, it is identical to the artillery Helmbezug. The Arabic numerals are red felt and machine sewn to the cover utilizing a zigzag stitch.


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Example three, a circa 1897-1914 Füsilier-Regiment General-Feldmarschall Prinz Albrecht von Preußen (Hannoversches) Nr. 73, is identical in construction and material as the FAR 34 and IR 15 covers. The Arabic numerals match those of the IR 15 cover, as does the stitching. It is the least faded of the three and provides the best impression of reed-green (particularly the interior).

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Example four, a 1915 dated Triersches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 44 Helmbezug illustrates the initial wartime changes in material and construction. Spruce-green felt Arabic numerals, sewn to the helmet with a simplified running stitch, have replaced the prewar, highly visible red, the Helmbezug cloth is an even-weave of medium brown yarn, the attachment hooks are cast metal painted black, and the Kugel hood lining is now cloth.

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The circa 1892 - 1914 variegated cloth twill, which joins the Kugel hood to the field cover has been retained:

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Example five, a 1915 dated two-piece cover, typifies the pattern developed for the M15 Pickelhaube with detachable spike. The cover is an even-weave of medium brown yarn, the attachment hooks are unpainted steel, the opening for the ventilation hub is reinforced and elastic, and quarter-circle openings backed in leather allow the chinstrap to be worn outside the cover. The Helm cover is constructed of four panels (comparable to early baseball caps)

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A ghost Arabic numeral “3” is also visible. Possible explanations are:
1. The number is a faded ink/dye stencil.
2. The number is a shadow created by a non-colorfast cloth number having once been sewn to the cover.
3. The number was stamped on the cover to assist a textile worker in accurately positioning a cloth number for machine sewing.

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SECTON II: PRIVATE PURCHASE HELMBEZÜGE

Example one is a circa 1892 to 1918 private purchase cover with a taller spike hood proportionate to the officer Pickelhaube. Replacing the brass visor hooks are protective reinforced cloth pockets. The sole marking found on the cover is “D.R.P.” for Deutsches Reich Patent. The cloth is an even-weave of light gray and twisted light gray/pale olive yarn. The Helm cover is two-panel construction.

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Example two is a circa 1897 to 1918 Reserve-Infanterie cover representing either Prussian Infanterie-Regiment Graf Tauentzein von Wittenberg (3. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 20 or Bavarian 20. Infanterie-Regiment Prinz Franz. With the exception of machine sewn (running stitch) forest-green Arabic numberals and Latin “R”, the cover is identical to private purchase example one, albeit faded.

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Example three is an unissued circa 1915 to 1918 private purchase cover that provides the perfect counterpoint to issued example number five above. The spike hood and cover are separable and reinforced quarter-circle openings are present for the chinscales/chinstrap to be worn outside the cover. The helmet cover is ink stamped “D.R.P.,” and the spike hood “D.R.G.M.” (Deutsches Reich Gebrauch Muster). Of all the covers discussed, this is first Helmbezug in which additional elastic is used. The sides of the cover, between the fore and aft visor pockets, feature an internal elastic cord for a more custom fit.

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Example four is subject to the reader’s interpretation. Suffice it to say, it is correctly made, but how does it compare to the examples above?

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To summarize, the preceding overview was intended as a quick reference to the characteristics one would expect to see in original Helmbezüge. What I have not been able to address are stenciled numbers and characters, alternative yarns and weaves, and Tschako, Tschapka, Metallhelme, and Stahlhelm Überzüge. Please feel free to contribute to this database.

Chas.
 

Adler

New member
Very interesting and informative! Those pictures are just amazing and show the smallest detail! Well done!

Adler
 
To add to the great information Chas has provided on helmet covers, the following Jaeger covers may also be of interest.

The first example is an M15 style cover that is constructed in the same manner as officer covers

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except that is has reenforced slits that permit the chinstrap or chinscales to be worn outside the cover.

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The cover has elastic sections on each side and pockets with cardboard stiffeners that slip over the front & rear visors to provide a neater fit to the cover. The cover is also marked D.R.P. as typically seen on officer covers.
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The cover also has a reenforced slit on the top front to accomodate the wire portion of the field badge.
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The interesting question about this cover is; is it really a cover for an officer shako? While it is logical that officer shakos would have been manufactured in the M15 pattern with detachable chinscales mounted on M91 side lugs, to date none have been noted and the major reference texts do not mention this style construction for shakos. Therefore, the cover may be a private purchase item that was available for other ranks shakos. Given these questions, the cover has been displayed on a private purchase, orther ranks shako from Jaeger Bn. 7.

Saxon Jaeger Bns. 12 & 13 and Rifle Regiment 108 wore shakos of a pattern unique to Saxony. Additionally, the shako covers were uniuque and there were two different covers.
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The first cover illustrated is black oilcloth and covered only the shako body. The oilcloth covers are quite fragile and few have survived.

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The oilcloth cover was intended to be kept on the shako at all times. However, from the number of period photographs showing Saxon jaegers in the field with no cover on their shakos, this guideline was apparently often ignored.

The cover is retained by braided wool loops that button underneath the side lugs. This photo also shows the special small size kokarde used on Saxon shakos.

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The holes for the side ventilators were reenforced with a sewn on ring of oilcloth. The two small holes are for the thong that secures the bush to the side of the shako.
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This view illustrates the inside of the oilcloth cover. The cover was produced by the same manufacturer that made the shako.

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Saxon shakos also had a cloth camouflage cover.

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Hooks were not used to keep the cover in place. A small strap went underneath the side lug and the busch was tied to the outside of the shako.
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The following illustrates the reenforcement for the side vent. The angled slit below is where the retaining thong for the bush passes through the cover.

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A pocket at the front of the cover slips over the visor to cover the complete exterior of the shako.

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Finally, the unit mark on the inside of the cover. To the best of my knowledge this shako and the two covers have been together since they were first issued.

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Reservist1
 

Tony without Kaiser

Departed
Staff member
reservist1 said:
To add to the great information Chas has provided on helmet covers, the following Jaeger covers may also be of interest.
Congratulations on the understatement of the year, and its only April. Thank you for posting these Sachsen Tschako photos R1. I feel light headed. :sign11:
 

Tony without Kaiser

Departed
Staff member
Here is a Kürassier officer’s Feldgrau Überzug, no manufacturer's or size markings of any kind.

A blurb from my Überzug web page: Although all arms of the cavalry were outfitted with cloth Überzug in 1892, Regimental numbers were not carried. The cavalry first carried the Regimental numbers on 15 August 1914 when all arms were ordered to carry the Regimental number in green on the front of the Überzug. Like the Garde Infantry, Garde cavalry formations never carried a Regimental number on the Überzug. Only blank Überzug were worn by Garde cavalry from 1892 to 1916.

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An an Ulanen issued Feldgrau Überzug marked to UR3.

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b.loree

Administrator
Staff member
Congrats T on your latest purchase...very nice!! Chas et al...you realize, that you have just pushed up the price of uberzugs by 50%???? One last thing, on this forum there are pics of my Feld Arty Regt 61 officer cover. No one as yet has been able to explain the unique features of this piece. Brian
 

Lost Skeleton

Active member
Forum member, DASH, (Dan) has volunteered pictures of this extremely interesting Tschakobezug.
DASH said:
I only own 3 Überzugen, and have chosen the Tschako cover to show first. The other two are rather plain officer (I think) types. One has the lips/tabs that slip under the visors, with elastic on the side. the spike cover attaches with 4 straps. The only marking is a small black "VORN" stamped on the front tab. The other one is very similar, but does not have the fold under lips, only elastic completely around the edge. It is marked WILLY BURMEISTER, HAMBURG 36, with a smaller 3rd line which is unreadable, and size 57 faintly hand written in white chalk.

The material on all 3 seems to be of a heavy cotton (denim like) in field grey/green, and do not show the coarser, different colored threads seen on some of the covers posted. As I currently do not have a WW1 Tschako, the Überzug is on a 1950's era police Tschako.
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DASH said:
The only marking is a Fr. N., Fr. H., Fr. N. II, or Fr H. II stamp just under the slit for the field badge. It most likely is Fr. N.. The II might be just a smudge from the edge of the stamp.
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In addition to the integrated Feldzeichen cover, the ventilation slits are a feature we haven't encountered heretofore.

Thank you for the contribution, Dan. :thumbright:

Chas
 

DASH

New member
Chas - Thank you for posting the pictures of my Tschakobezug for me.

As I am far from knowledgeable on pickelhaubes, I learn from others who are and share their expertise on the forum, but, it is also nice to be able to contribute once and a while.

Dan
 

Tony without Kaiser

Departed
Staff member
Dan, that pattern of cover with the enclosed Feldzeichen appears in 1930s to 1960s catalogues that supplied Polizei clothing and equipment, and also in many period photos of Polizei, including the Third Reich.
 

DASH

New member
Tony - Thanks for the information, it is a perfect example of learning from the expertise of others.

Although purchased separately, displaying it on the 1950's police tschako turns out to be not bad at all!

Dan
 

Tony without Kaiser

Departed
Staff member
Keep in mind Dan, that it is not a dud; far from it. I have seen these Polizei covers sell for over $400 USD as 1950s Polizei covers. They are not common.
 

DASH

New member
Tony - please don't misunderstand me, but I picked up just about all of my collection many years ago (when people were glad if you took the stuff off their hands). There was very little documentation to be had at the time.

Now that I am retired and have pulled the stuff out of storage, and have access to an unbelieveable amount of information, I have time to sort things out and correctly identify them. As the saying goes, "they are what they are", and I am glad to have each and every piece (and now know what it is).

Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge, and for the tip on the value of the cover - I had no idea.

Dan
 
hope these pics can help, I found them interesting to post here since most of the tshako covers seen in collections (they are scarce) are officers or war time. I saw another very nice example of a pre-war cover at the 2009 SOS but I could not afford it, and I know here near Lille (France) a 1916 prussian tshako with war time cover. I forgot to say that the cover was not found originaly with the tschako, obviously it is too big for it, however ... amasingly, both are marked after tel bat 3 !




 
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