Prussian Line Cuirassier EM Model 1809

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
During the War of the Fourth Coalition, under the hands of the French army and Napoleon Bonaparte, the Prussian Army was decisively beaten in 1806 at the battles of Saalfeld, Jena, and Auerstedt. Prussia submitted to major territorial losses, was made to reduce its army to just 42,000 men, and to sign an alliance with France in the Treaty of Tilsit. Prussia was forced to reduce its number of Kurassier regiments from 13 down to only four. Many of the remaining Prussian Army units escaped to the east and began an alliance with Russia rather than submitting to French rule. During this time the Prussian Army underwent a complete reform, including tactics, strategies, weapons, and uniforms. Until 1807 Prussian Kurassiers wore a tricorn hat with an iron cap, called a casquet, underneath. Prussian Kurassiers did not wear a cuirass after1790 by order of Frederick William II, so even the name Kurassier was somewhat of a misnomer. Prussian Kurassiers did not use the cuirass again until 1814. In 1809 Prussian Kurassiers adopted a helmet modeled after the Russian version worn since 1803. This was the first Prussian Kurassier helmet, Model 1809:

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The shell of this helmet is made of boiled leather and is extremely thick. The body of the helmet is tarred, probably with birch tar. One reference refers to this as being lacquered with birch tar. This made the helmet virtually waterproof and rendered it highly resistant to insects and mold. There are rolled leather reinforcements, two on each side, that are stitched to the helmet shell with linen thread that assist in keeping the helmets shape.

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The front visor is sewn to the shell and then folded over the stitches. The rear neck guard is sewn on in a fashion similar to that of a Pickelhaube.

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The helmet shell is sewn up the back leaving the flaps of leather on the outside to be made into the comb, or Raupe.

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The front plate is made of gilded brass and the Adler Wappen is stamped into it. The front plate is held on with two brass wire loops at the bottom and one screw fastener at the top. This top fastener also secures the Raupe support to the helmet. It is tightened with a strange, thick brass, “H” shaped nut. The brass is a yellow gold color and is likely a close derivative of Prince Rupert’s metal. Prince Rupert’s metal was developed by Prince Rupert of the Rhein (1619-1682), and was yellow in color, cold malleable, extremely tarnish resistant, and was often used in jewelry to simulate gold. Actually this metal was a mistake. Prince Rupert was trying to develop a stronger metal for naval cannon at the time.

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This helmet is 16” tall at its tallest point and is extremely heavy. Simply giving a measurement does not begin to describe how massive this helmet really is. To accurately show this helmets sheer mass, a photo is provided with the Model 1809 sitting next to the familiar Prussian Model 1895. Both of these helmets fit the same size head.

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The liner of this helmet is made of thick, padded leather, with a linen inner liner sewn to it. The linen liner would have had a drawstring to tighten it around the wearers head. The underside of the rear neck guard is lined with a treated cloth or leather veneer and is dyed black. The front visor underside is the same as the rear only the color is green. This color coding of black in the rear and green in the front will be a tradition on all enlisted Kurassier and Jager zu Pferde helmets until their demise in 1916.

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The Raupe is made of horsehair and is sewn between the leather flaps on the helmet shell. The horsehair is braided and sewn together at the base. It is then sewn in with linen thread. It appears that the linen thread has been tarred.

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The tail of the horsehair raupe is bunched up and sewn together at the base of the helmet shell in the rear. The neck guard has a slot where the leather from the Raupe passes through.

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The 75mm Kokarde is made of silk and is colored in standard Prussian colors, black-white-black. Silk is a highly resilient material which can last hundreds of years unless it had been weighted. In the 1840’s manufacturers began weighting silk with sugars and metallic salts to increase profits. It was perfectly legal but the silk material was weakened by it. Weighted silks can dry out, shred, and they do not hold dyes well. Weighted silks also have a tendency to glow under black light, raw silks do not. This Kokarde does not glow under black light.

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The rosettes have a screw fastener and are held in place with iron nuts about ½” square. The studs holding the front visor trim in place have bent pins. The front visor trim is 11mm wide. The chinscales are flat and measure 39mm at their widest point. The chinscales were flat on all models until a military directive ordered that they be changed to convex, between 1816 and 1818. There is no latch on the end of the chinscales to attach them when the chinstrap is not being worn. Instead the chinstrap itself has a small brass buckle that holds the chinstrap linked when resting on the visor. I seriously doubt that this helmet could be worn without the use of a chinstrap. After looking through what seems like thousands of period paintings, it appears that officers preferred to wear the tricorn hat through most of the Napoleonic Wars.

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The helmet is reinforced on the side with a folded up leather earpiece. This earpiece allowed free movement of the chinscales and kept them from rubbing on the helmet shell. These earpieces would evolve into the M91 lug support on future Pickelhauben.

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This helmet could have been worn in the battles of Bautzen, Leibertwolkwitz, Leipzig, etc.
The Kurassier regiments using this helmet were:

No 1: Silesian Kurassier Regiment
No 2: East Prussian Kurassier Regiment
No 3: Brandenburg Kurassier Regiment
No 4: Magdeburg Kurassier Regiment

The Garde Kurassiers wore this helmet but the front plate bore the Garde Star instead of the Adler.

Starting in 1813 the Prussian armed forces put to rest any doubts as to their military prowess. They came back from the defeat in 1806 --- and they came back with a vengeance.

This helmet was modified several times over the years and went out of service in 1842 as the Model 1833. It was replaced in 1842-1843 by the metal Kurassierhelm and the Pickelhaube.

I know this helmet is beyond the normal timeline generally discussed in this forum; however, my hope is that it may provide additional historical perspective regarding the development of the Pickelhaube.

John :)
 

Khukri

Active member
My goodness....this is such a fine helmet ! Fantastic condition after 200+ years.
Great discription ! Thank you !
Francis
 

Nacuaa

Member
I first became aware of this connection between the early kurassier helmet and the pickelhaube when I read John Mollo's "Military Fashion" years ago but this is far more detailed and a fascinating analysis update. I was unaware of the exact context of the influences of the Russians on Prussian military fashion at this time. Later of course there is debate as to who came up with the pickelhaube in the first place but this shows the Russian and Prussian design dialog right from the start, directly contrary to the French neo-classical curiassiers. What a fantastic helmet with a fine plate. The best condition I have ever seen and I keep a digital file of these as the interest me a lot. Thank you very much for the information and all the details. I was planning to build an 1842 pickelhaube someday and its always wise to go back and look at what they are thinking when they came up with the concept in the first place.
 

KAGGR#1

Well-known member
John ;
Great helmet !

It seems years ago that I had one similar to yours
but I do not remember the kokard being that nice .
Is that an officers helmet ?
This is earlier than I collect , but I sure do like your helmet .
When I started to collect about 1970
there were 2 advanced collectors in Chicago .
Phil N. and Hermann W.
both ended up collecting only Prussian helmets .
Hermann passed away at an early age .
Phil sold his collection
and that is where my helmet came from
because of the time frame , I later sold mine .
I hope that I can find photos of it
but during that time I might have been
shooting 35 mm color slides .

Thanks for the great photos
Steve
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
Nacuaa said:
What a fantastic helmet with a fine plate. The best condition I have ever seen and I keep a digital file of these as the interest me a lot.

All of the photos in my post are in photobucket. If you want more permanent photos, and additional photos that I didn't use, just PM me your personal e-mail and I'll send them to you.
If you ever write a book on this subject let me know where to buy it --- autographed copy, of course!

John :D
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
Thank you everybody for your kind commentary. The last time I received this much praise I was allowed to eat Christmas dinner at the big boy table!!

John :D
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
KAGGR#1 said:
John ;

Is that an officers helmet ?

Steve

No, this is an enlisted man's helmet. My research indicates (and take this with a grain of salt) that officers tended to continue to wear the tricorn hat throughout much of the Napoleonic Wars. I searched through period paintings on the internet and in books, and when officers were shown, they were wearing a tricorn hat while the troops were wearing this helmet. There are photos in Jan K. Kube's book, Militaria, copyright 1990, showing the enlisted Model 1809 on page 50, figure 46, and the officer version (Model 1830-1842) on page 25, figure 62. Note the flat chinscales on the enlisted version and the two piece front plate on the officers version. Kube does refer to an officers M1808 on page 25, but the version shown is 1820.

The research into this was somewhat daunting. The earliest version of an officer helmet that I found on the internet was in a museum, in France I believe, and it was dated 1820.

John :D
 

kaiser

Active member
I am not gonna say this or that only that it is in outstanding condition for beeing that old
Well, its the first time to see one of these
i did not even know that they where so od in there shape

That is a great helmet
Jonas
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
kaiser said:
I am not gonna say this or that only that it is in outstanding condition for being that old

That is a great helmet
Jonas

It is that old. I believe that it was actually made in 1809. I did not put this in the original post because I have not verified it through multiple sources, but there is one source that says that the original Model 1809 helmet (they call it a Model 1808) had a horsehair plume that was worn on parade. It says that the plume was worn only on parade until 1810 after which it was worn at all times. The Raupe is obviously not removable, but on the reverse side of the Raupe support on this helmet there is a brass loop. This loop is part of the support and appears to serve no function whatsoever. It could be the attachment for a separate horsehair plume which would hang down in the front to about the midpoint of the Adler. In 1810 and later models there is no "parade plume" per se. It seems that there was just more horsehair sewn in at the front of the Raupe. I saw a later version of this helmet dismantled once and there was no brass loop and just longer hair in the front. Period paintings show both long and short hair versions.



The source stating this is not my favorite, and more often than not I don't trust them, but it does provide an idea.
If it is true, the likelihood that I will ever find an original parade plume is non-existent.
If I did find one, that would be the day that I would buy my first lottery ticket!

John :)
 

kaiser

Active member
I think you already won a lottery just by getting your hands on this helmet
where in the world will yo ever find a second one as great as yourse
You can make a time line of diffrent models starting with your helmet and al the way to the m15
That would be a train of changes they made over al those years

Jonas
 

Dragoner08

New member
Hello,

a really good report . Thank you very much.

This piece may I add . This helmet was decades in a museum , which I bought this museum for few years ago .

The helmet is worn however clear and no longer completely .The helmet has inside a carrier - Ettiket . Since it was located just not sure if it is an officer or a enlisted rank , a false carrier was determined !

It is correct that it is a enlisted helmet .

But I have this helmet sold a few years ago because he did not fit into my collection . The condition was also not so good.

Gruß Dragoner08
 

SkipperJohn

Well-known member
That is a nice helmet. There are not many of those around anymore. My helmet was in a museum as well, in Baden-Wuerttemberg. I notice that the one you posted has the longer hair in the front. When you mentioned a "carrier" I assume you were talking about the "plume attachment"? I have given some thought to making a horsehair plume for mine. All I would need to do is tie some horsehair with thread and stick it in the loop. I live in Arizona so getting horsehair is absolutely no problem --- but where will I find a horse that's 206 years old!

John :D
 

KAGGR#1

Well-known member
Hello John ;
I don't know if you get Kube or not .
I was about to file away his 30 April 2016
# 130 auction
then I noticed on the inside back cover
Lot 1007
which he said is Russian ensemble for line- Kurassiere
from 1835 .
I thought that you might like to see it .
This has the long hair in front like the photos
of Gunnar .
Steve

 
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