With Imperial German pickelhaubes steadily increasing in value, there is a tendency for some collectors to consider them out of reach. Once you have bought the regular units, then the more obscure helmets tend to be harder to find and more expensive when you do find them.
However, there is a part of the helmet that differentiates one from another and that is the frontal plate. Each large front plate or badge represents a state, a division or a regiment and there were a lot of further variations, including officers and other ranks for each unit. Not to mention the ball-topped ones, which were issued to the artillery. Then there are officer’s plumed variations as well.
As a Pickelhaube front plate was an easy item to acquire by the regular soldier during WW1, they quickly became a popular souvenir for British soldiers. So many were brought back that there are still a lot of variations to choose from, and individually they do not command as high a price as a complete helmet.
In this post we take a look at a variety of Imperial German Pickelhaube plates for sale currently on our partner sites.
A 1897-pattern Baden Helmet Plate
This 1897-pattern infantry plate represents the Baden state and like most plates, it would have been fastened via two rear loops which went through holes in the front of the helmet. A short piece of leather would then be inserted in the rear of the loops to hold the plate in place. Although this example has one of the rear fixing loops missing, they are easy to replace, as at the time they were fastened using lead solder.
This Baden plate is for sale from World Military Collectables priced at £70.
Imperial Prussian Pickelhaube Plate
One of the more common Imperial German helmet plates on the market are the Prussian ones. This particular one dates between 1896 – 1918. Manufactured in die-stamped gilded brass, it also has the two rear fastening loops and like many of these plates, it is slightly curved to follow the shape of the helmet front.
This one is in great condition and available from Relic Militaria priced at £98.
Bavarian Infantry Helmet Plate
Next we have a Bavarian Infantry Pickelhaube plate for sale. This would have been issued to enlisted men and non-commissioned officers. It depicts two outward facing lions, a crown and the state crest of Bavaria. The wording “In Treue Fest” means “In Loyalty Steadfast” and it was the motto of the Kingdom of Bavaria between 1805 and 1918. The soldiers from that region would wear it on their helmets.
This example is curved to run around the front of the helmet and is in great condition. Available from The Collector’s Guild for $179.
Imperial Prussian Garde Helmet Plate
A variation in helmet plates, this Imperial Prussian Garde helmet plate is overly wide and wraps around the helmet. The wingspan is much wider than the standard plates and this example has two screw threads mounted one over the other. They ensure that the plate is still well mounted on the front of the helmet.
Another difference with this plate is the separate centre Garde Star badge. Both the larger rear eagle and the centre star are manufactured in white metal. The German wording on the front says “for king and country”.
It has not been cleaned yet so there is room for further improvement. It is priced at £185 from Military Antiques.
Mecklenburg Schwerin Officer’s Helmet Plate
If your budget is a little larger, why not consider something a little more exotic? This is a Mecklenburg Schwerin officer’s Pickelhaube plate with a gilded rear sun-ray shape and a white metal Mecklenburg crest in the centre. Once again, the rear fixings are screw threads with nut fasteners. There is some untidy soldering on the back. This is normal as often the fixings broke off and had to be fixed.
There is also some blue tack on the back, indicating that at some point it has probably been in a collector’s album for display. As is common with most Pickelhaube plates, it is gently curved to accommodate the curvature of the helmet front.
This rare officer’s plate is available from Regimentals and priced at £395.
If you want to branch out into Pickelhaube accoutrements then you can find plenty of associated militaria to collect. A good example is this field grey helmet cover which would have been introduced during WW1 as a means of not only protecting the helmet, but also as camouflage. The bright shiny front plates became a little too obvious a target and were not suited for trench warfare. In 1916, following the introduction of the M16 steel helmet, the Imperial Pickelhaube was withdrawn as a piece of combat headwear.
This cover would have gone directly over a Pickelhaube and it clipped over the front and rear peak to hold it in place. The top cone was attached by small strips of cloth. This created an air vent which corresponded to the air holes underneath the spike. Thus ensuring the helmet was still breathable with or without the cover in place.
This example is in very good condition and it is Deutsche’s Reich Patent (DRP) marked. It is for sale from IMCS Militaria in Holland priced at €295.
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