Model 1867 Prussian Canteen

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
Here is my latest purchase, a Model 1867 Prussian canteen:

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It is in immaculate condition having only a few small chips around the opening. The cork is intact and still seals the bottle:

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The canteen came with a tin cup that fits perfectly, but snugly, on the bottom of the canteen:

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The tin cup has one small handle and shows little wear except for the silvered coating:

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The exterior leather is in perfect condition:

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This is an excellent addition to my Franco-Prussian War collection.

A few additional notes concerning research:

This canteen was listed on Ebay as a European canteen of unknown origin from the 1800's. It looked Prussian to me and I had seen similar canteens in museums in Germany and France. I set out to prove that it was Prussian before I made an offer.
I found two dealers who were selling, or had sold, similar items:



I found another dealer with a slightly different version:


Not fully trusting the dealers alone, I found the following photo and information in "Osprey, Men at War Series, German Armies 1870-71 (1), Prussia, Michael Solka, 2004, pg. 47":

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I know that Osprey is not the best for 100% accurate research, but a photo from a museum proved compelling. It was convincing enough for me to add this jewel to my collection.

There is additional information on this canteen in another forum which says that this is an "early Model 1867" and shows this canteen next to a "newer, modified Model 1867" which has only two loops on the leather case and incorporates a tin cup. The other forum info and photo can be obtained here:


I brought up the simple research that I did because I am still searching for one more bit of info. I have never seen this type of canteen with a cup. Has anyone seen a tin cup for one of these or know of a resource where I could obtain that information?

John
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
Here are two more sources that point to this canteen being Prussian:



This canteen is listed as being German but it could also be Swiss. Note, it only has two loops:


I can find no indication, other than the source you added, that this canteen is Swiss. Even a quick Google search for Swiss Army or military canteens 1800's shows no canteens even similar to this one.
Perhaps it was a shared contract, or maybe the Swiss purchased the canteens from Prussia, or later, Germany.
Upon examination of Swiss military history, they couldn't have needed too many of them.

John
 

Lars13

Member
If you google for "Feldflasche 1881 schweiz" you'll find a lot more references.
Many dealers try to sell this canteen as German, as it looks similar; Stewarts Antiques even says so: "The German troops carried similar canteens....."
 

Lars13

Member
Hi John,
Unfortunately it is not so easy to find a good source for the correct Prussian model. I normally rely on the books published by "Militaria Verlag" (the books written by Kraus are superb), but the volume about German infantry up to 1914 contains several errors, and also identifies the canteen you bought as German 1867.
The fact that Swiss websites (.ch) typically identify this canteen as Swiss 1881 is a good indicator, as people often have better access to equipment and information from their own country.
Another indicator is the fact that the German canteen is described as "very rare", yet a lot of these are on offer for a reasonable price?
Vendors are simply unreliable as a source, both because they can't know everything, and a German canteen sells better than a Swiss one ;)
Regards,
Lars
 

Tony without Kaiser

Departed
Staff member
Here are pages 108/109 from Pietsch, P. (year unknown) Formations und Uniformierungsgeschichte des Preussen Heeres 1908 bis 1914. Verlag: Helmut Gerhard Schulz, Hamburg (reprinted 1963)

Nr. 16 is the M1867

Pietsch.jpg
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
I appreciate all of the input and I agree with much of it. I would never question the authenticity of anything on https://www.kaisersbunker.com/ and I often use Tony's website as an initial reference.
I believe that it is entirely possible that the Swiss used this canteen and that it was labelled an M81. This type of thing occurs all of the time. Consider the U.S. M1 helmet. These were sold by the millions to other countries and each country gave it their own nomenclature. I cannot verify that all of my numbers are correct, but in Korea I think it's called the M48, in the Philippines M50, Iraq M80 (though later made of Kevlar in the same design). The M67 German canteen could easily become the Swiss M81 canteen after sale.
"The fact that Swiss websites (.ch) typically identify this canteen as Swiss 1881 is a good indicator, as people often have better access to equipment and information from their own country." I agree with this statement which is why I didn't question this as being Prussian. One of these is on display at the Wehrgeschichtliches Museum Rastatt. This is not a roadside museum, but rather one of the most comprehensive military museums in the world --- and it's in Germany.
I also know that, especially during this period, many versions of military equipment existed. That is, in part, why I wrote the following post:

I have always been a big believer that one would find it difficult to argue with a period photograph; however, photographs from this period are scarce and often of very poor quality. I can find no photographic evidence that this is a Prussian canteen.
There are; however, numerous period etchings of soldiers and uniforms. These were drawn at the time for use in books, newspapers, and other publications. These were common in the Times Newspaper during the U.S. Civil War.
I found the following period etching:

eg6nzs8.jpg

(All release obligations have been met. Release not required. Not for commercial use.)

A blown up section of the etching:

zbMf1q3.png


My simple question is --- Why would an artist from the period randomly add the features shown on the canteen? What would be the reason for him to make these features up?

Maybe he just wanted to screw with collectors 150 years in the future!

John
 

Tony without Kaiser

Departed
Staff member
// I appreciate all of the input and I agree with much of it. I would never question the authenticity of anything on https://www.kaisersbunker.com/ //

Thank you John I really appreciate the confidence, but please look at anything I have or say with a critical eye. I make errors like everyone. I do it daily actually……

That etching is VERY interesting. I believe period drawings are typically spot-on and accurate. Many artists had soldiers pose in their studios so they could make sketches for paintings, and I suspect accuracy was a point of pride for period artists. Really interesting thread.
 
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ottodog8

Member
A dilemma. Obviously many European armies copied each other's equipment, look at the entrenching tools of the time. No markings?

Steve
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
There is another obvious issue that I just discovered. This soldier is wearing an M60 Pickelhaube.
The M60 was used in the Franco-Prussian War, but the M67 helmet had been fielded.
Perhaps (just guessing now) this canteen is a previous edition. Maybe it's an M60 canteen and not an M67(?), or it has an earlier designation that I am completely unaware of???

John
 

Sandmann

Well-known member
I think it is very conceivable that this type of canteen was common in Germany before 1866. I found a photo showing Bavarian soldiers in 1866 and a 2nd photo showing a Prussian Artillery Regiment before Paris in 1870. Both wear a flask like shown above. Even if Germany was not just one state before 1871, those secondary war devices were no secrets and good quality quickly caught on.
(Source of photo 1: Inv. Nr. 0323-2015 © Bayerisches Armeemuseum)
(Source of photo 2; Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H26707 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Photo 1:
1BE96A6B-1009-4924-B6CF-FFEDA9F20176.jpeg
Photo 2:
A62DCFE6-8BDB-456D-9BEE-46F9499C0A8C.jpeg
 

Lars13

Member
The M67 German canteen could easily become the Swiss M81 canteen after sale.
Hi John,
Unfortunately no, the article in the link from post #3 describes how the Swiss compared models from surrounding countries with Swiss models, and then decided on a Swiss design, so they didn't buy these from the Germans.
Perhaps (just guessing now) this canteen is a previous edition. Maybe it's an M60 canteen and not an M67(?), or it has an earlier designation that I am completely unaware of???
The M67 is the first sealed pattern of a Prussian canteen, so before that the Prussians probably used canteens of no fixed pattern.
Why would an artist from the period randomly add the features shown on the canteen? What would be the reason for him to make these features up?
I don't think the artist made anything up, these leather-covered glass bottles were in use in a lot of armies at the time, however, as with the entrenching tools Steve mentioned in post #11, they were similar, not identical. This is my main problem, your canteen is identical to the one drawn in the official Swiss "Ordonnanzzeichnung", and only similar to the other ones. Even the fact that the Wehrgeschichtliches Museum Rastatt seems to identify it as German 1867 (I haven't seen a picture of it on display, only the Osprey caption) can't change that for me.
There is another obvious issue that I just discovered. This soldier is wearing an M60 Pickelhaube
I don't think that is an issue, the Prussian army was notoriously thrifty. I have pictures of Jäger in J.B. 7 during their military service from 1910-12, and some of them still use leather-covered glass bottles, now modified with carbine hook and drinking cup, almost 20 years after the (much better) aluminium M93 canteen was introduced:) And M1888 Tschakos too.....
Regards,
Lars
 

Lars13

Member
Hi John,

Your example illustrates the problem perfectly: what is shown above as an M1893 Feldflasche actually isn't. It is very similar, but not the same. The strap that runs to the bottom of the canteen should have an aluminium "knob" at the bottom, not a buckle. The carbine hook is incorrect too, it should be the same width all around, without the widened "press" portion (which came much later). It should be made of steel, not aluminium. Due to the shape of the carbine hook I think this is a post WW I civilian model.

An example of a correct M1893: https://st.museum-digital.de/index.php?t=objekt&oges=13712

I have one too, again it looks very similar but is not correct:
DSC01997_Cropped.jpg DSC02009_Cropped.jpg
The carbine hook is made of aluminium, not steel as specified by the German army, which indicates it is made for the civilian market. I think this set has been put together at some point in time, as the bottle and the hook are made by different manufacturers. The bottle might be military pre WW I due to its marking, no idea on dating the hook.

The misidentification of (military) equipment is unfortunately very common, so I rely on the official specifications and sealed patterns ("Probe") where possible. In your case it is identical with the official specifications and drawings of the Swiss 1881 canteen.
So I don't doubt you have a duck, I just don't think it is a German M67 duck.

Regards,
Lars
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
Frankly I don't care if the information on the M1893 canteen is correct or not. My interest is in the M67.
So far I have provided information from 10 sources stating that the canteen in question is a Prussian Model 1867. My sources include 4 dealers, 1 museum, 1 book, 1 period etching, 1 article from an historical society, and 2 threads from other military forums. You have provided only one source from a Swiss Military museum.
I have also Googled "Feldflasche 1881 schweiz", Swiss Army uniforms 1800s, Swiss military uniforms, Swiss military developments 1800s, Swiss military inventions, etc, etc, etc. I did find the reference from the Swiss museum that you quoted above, but other than that all that came up was a red pocket knife, a wristwatch, and a pair of women's high heeled shoes.
I'm really not trying to be a wiseass and I did find two references that showed this canteen as Swiss. One on Catawiki listed it as a Swiss water bottle and the other one was an advertisement from Etsy saying that it was a leather covered Swiss wine flask. I really don't trust either one of these sources.

I will make you a deal. If you can provide one --- just one --- period photograph, period etching, period sketch, period painting, or even a period stick figure, that shows a Swiss soldier wearing this canteen then maybe I'll believe that this is original Swiss manufacture.

I will even help you out:

zCf3T8M.png


This is the only picture of a Swiss soldier wearing a canteen that I can find.
Is the canteen similar?: Yes
Is it compelling evidence?: Absolutely Not

I would imagine that this issue has come up with other forum members. It would be interesting to hear their input.

For me the research is just as important as the collecting, and I am still open to suggestions and opinions. It's just that I don't see adequate evidence at this point indicating that this canteen is anything but Prussian.

John
 

Lars13

Member
Hi John,

No problem. I've only tried to help you identify the canteen, given my evaluation of available sources, explained why I value sources differently, and given my conclusions. That doesn't mean that you need to agree with me.

If you're convinced it is a M67 German canteen then that's good enough for me.

Regards,

Lars
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
No problem here either!
I just need more evidence.
I know how books, museums, the internet, can all be wrong.
That's why I never use only one source.

John
 
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