The Imperial helmet as a technical definition was the helmet typically worn by Roman legionaries. Sadly, such examples from the Roman era are nearly impossible to find. However, in a collecting sense, we often refer to helmets from the 1700s and 1800s as ‘Imperial Helmets’. The reason is quite likely because we had the Imperial Russian era from the mid 1700s and Imperial German era in the late 1800s. Plus the large French, Dutch and British empires adopted large plumed helmets similar to the Roman designs.
These large, over-the-top design helmets make for some amazing display items for collectors and of course, items of well over 100 years old hold a high collector value, so they are an excellent investment for the future as well. Today we will have a look through some of the pre-WW1 Imperial Helmets we can find for sale across our partner websites.
Imperial Russian Garde du Corps Helmet
First up, we have a look at one of the more famous designs of Imperial Helmets. The Garde du Corps helmet is an iconic design with the large eagle mounted to the top. This type of helmet was for non-commissioned officers to wear out on parade, rather than any sort of combat helmet. In reality, he Russian Imperial Guard were bodyguards from the start; however, they did expand into becoming an elite regiment covering all branches of service.
This helmet is in overall fantastic condition for its age. The eagle and mounting plate have sadly lost their silvered finish, but this doesn’t detract from the overall look. The original liner is still intact but shows signs of age and wear. Showing the quality used on such helmets, the liner is manufactured from silk and velvet! On each side, the period cockades in their national colours are still in situ, holding the brass linked chin scale.
This helmet is available for sale from Michael D Long Antiques in the UK for £9,750.
Victorian British Home Service Helmet
This next helmet is a British helmet from the Victorian era, which dates it to the late 1800s into early 1900s. It belonged to the Hertfordshire Regiment. We know this because of the badge at the front. This pattern of helmet is known as a ‘home service helmet’.
All the parts are in good original condition and appear to be original to the helmet. The Hertfordshire Regiment badge is fixed well, and the helmet spike is equally secured well to the top. Overall, this helmet is a fantastic example. The cork rim has been frayed over the years, presumable by being passed from place to place. And finally, the cloth material has a couple of moth bites. But otherwise, this is a cracking display item.
This British Victorian helmet is available for sale in the UK by CS Militaria for £545.
Imperial Prussian Guard’s Pickelhaube Officer’s Helmet
Moving now onto Imperial German helmets. This Prussian Pickelhaube is the rarer 1871 variation, which was issued to officers of a general rank. Again, like most of the other helmets on this post, this is a fantastic-looking item. Pickelhaube helmets are very iconic in design and this is only added to by the quality of their manufacturing.
Adorned on the front, you have the Prussian eagle, but the interesting part of this helmet is the guard’s star front and centre. It has stunning enamelling around the motto ‘Suum Cuique’ (may all get their due / to each his own). With all the brass parts and cockades intact and in undamaged condition, this helmet is an all round top shelf item.
Available for sale from JC Militaria in the UK for £2,850. This price includes UK postage.
French Cuirassier Officer’s Helmet
Finally on today’s post, we have a French Third Empire officer’s helmet. The Third Empire consisted of the time period between 1870 and 1940, when the Germans took control of France. This helmet likely dates to the earlier end of this time period. I mentioned Roman helmets at the beginning of this post and really, this final helmet has the most in common with them. It retains some similar Roman design features like the protruding top comb, the scaled chin strap, as well as the feather plumes. Each of these features are also seen on other helmets of course, but altogether on one helmet, they certainly give the Roman feel.
To describe this helmet, we must start with the overall front view. Brass detailing over a white metal shell gives a very ornate effect. After that we have a plume and a tail; this continues the ornate and dramatic feel of the helmet. The correct straps are still in situ and in good condition, plus the interior remains in good state. Internally, the helmet was constructed with tan leather backing to the back peak and brass rims. All of this remains in relatively good condition, especially given the age. The actual liner itself has a little staining, but again, remains in fine state. This internal construction tells us that this was an officer’s helmet. The enlisted man’s helmets were just not as well made.
This early helmet is available for sale today for £1,450 from Regimentals in the UK.
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