25 April 2007 update
in Volume 1 pg 345-348 talks about period values
of pickelhauben but offers no sources. He states
that Lieutenants made 120 Marks a month and that
a helmet was relatively expensive
This intrigued me as I knew it was big industry
to make Pickelhauben before WW1. Four
generations of German soldiers had worn
Anecdotal evidence tells me 6% of the German
economy was involved in Pickelhaube creation in
some way. Bowman gives a much smaller number of
20,000 directly involved in production.
I don't recall Tuchman making anything of it in
The Proud Tower but that is a huge part
of the economy. Pickelhaubes were the common
gift. Martin in his book gives the impression
that a normal officer had 3 Pickelhaubes
He never came out and said it but the impression
was one to wear walking out, one for normal
duty, and one for parades.
So I went off to
find some data and determine how close Bowman
was in his assertions.
The first thing I
had to find was pay tables. This proved very
difficult as the expected source
Fuhrer durch Heer und
had every possible pay table for travel,
housing, and pensions but not the monthly pay.
NCO and OR pay was in
Das Kleine Buch von
but not officers and
it was dated 1901: too early for other evidence
to match. Finally with the help of a
German collector I found a source.
While salaries varied by rank and longevity,
here are a few samples:
F|r einen Hauptmann, Rittmeister,
Stabarzt, Oberstabs- u. Stabsveterindr
a) vom 1.-4.
b) vom 5.-8.
c) vom 9. Jahre
F|r einen Leutnant u.
a) vom 1.-3.
b) vom 4.-6.
c) vom 7.-9.
d) vom 10.-12.
e) vom 13. Jahre ab 200[viii]
So there it is.
per month in 1913 for a beginning officer.
Remember I'm talking helmet costs now not total
cost of living let alone equipping an officer.
The Mark was about twenty cents and The US
Lieutenant made $125 or 5 times the German
It is also
instructive that NCOs and ORs made significantly
I point to the entry on Fähnriche to emphasize
guys made little. Senior NCOs often had private
purchase helmets. OYVs had to come fully
equipped, so someone shelled out for them. It
is curious to note that the Feldwebel
in Life in a Garrison Town enriched
himself by extorting money from the OYVs.
Not only would he
hit them as recruits but would accept payment
annually during training, from some to lessen
the severity of their duties. As a result he
lived quite well and could afford fineries.
b.d. Fu_truppen b.d. berittenen
Gemeine 9,00 Marks
kapit. Gefr. 15,00
Fahrer wie f|r
Fähnriche u. Unteroffiziere
weniger als 5 1/2 Dienstjahren
Sergeanten u. Unteroffiziere
5 1/2 jdhr. Dienszeit
Unteroffiziere nach 9
Feldwebel, Wachtmeister 62,10[xi]
The next step was
to determine the cost of a helmet. For this I
have four catalogs. The prices used for this article are from the Deutsche
Officer Verein (DOV). The one I will use is
dated April 1913. Tumhe other is an undated
to another catalog in volume 1 but gives no source material.
I'm not pricing
uniforms or anything else. This is helmets
only. The paucity of catalogs leads us to use a
construct that is probably not universal . In
the DOV catalog the first thing to notice is
that all helmets have three levels you could buy
at. I put them out as good, better, and best.
As quality increased to did the cost. Lets look
at an example of a line infantry helmet.
This construct of
three levels is obviously not universal nor easy
to show. However in the Neumann catalog and the Wunderlich catalog there are also three levels. There could easily be 10 levels with
custom pieces etc. High value plate, low value
leather etc. The only real way to determine is
to have a catalog like DOV and three
representative examples from the same year as
the catalog. Each catalog differs. Each retailer claimed that his item was tremendously good. Differences in
furniture is difficult to capture and even very
nice plates suffer from 100 years of dirt, UV
light, abrasive cleaners and who knows what. So
it is very difficult to say: 'This helmet is a
low quality example. Some plates are better
than others and as the war progressed the level
of detail suffered. Part of this is a result of
thin materials but it could also come from the
wearing out of the dies. Helmet plates were die
struck. So as the die wore out the plate would
have less detail.
regulation of 1911 is very specific about sizes
of fixtures. How big the chin scales had to be
There was nothing however, that differentiated
the thickness of material. As the war went on
all metal fixtures got thinner. Steel or zinc
replaces brass prior to
gilding. All of
these were supply related and I have no evidence
that it was price driven. As things became
scarce I’m sure helmet price inflation kicked in
but I have no data.
The one constant
that you can compare on helmets is the quality
of liner. Lots of gradient differences here so I
will choose three distinct types for my
It always seems
that the maker Awes-Marke had really good
helmets. Not all of the same quality, but the
examples I have seen are a cut above. So our top
grade example will have a premium liner with a
tightening band through the leather and some
helmet, this one without the premium markings.
Very fine helmet in all respects. This is my
representative mid grade. At least I can compare
two similar but not equal Saxon helmets. If you
look at the picture in the DOV catalog under
Zuschläge it shows a liner similar to this.
Good. The lowest
of the three. Standard private purchase liner.
The top cloth can run the gammut from cotton to
silk and the underside of the visors run the
gammut from painted paper to leather.
So there are three
grades. There is much fault in this and of
course anyone can take exception to it. These
three are merely a construct.
The Neumann catalog proved the existence of a Diensthelme or a service helmet. Diensthelme was a major type in the Wunderlich catalog. A Diensthelme is a privately purchased helmet for work or daily use. Without question the Diensthelme was the lowest quality and the least expensive. Both officers and one-year volunteers could use a Diensthelme to defray wear on the good helmets
so here we are a brand new
Lieutenant of line infantry of a unit that had a
busch and trichter. Our Sample LT we will put
into Infantry Regiment 25. Lets buy a middle of the road helmet #1921 from
the catalog. Looking pretty good and only down
Ok so now a cover
and other upgrades.
Cover 1120 =.70
Put my regiment #
on the cover cost per
Put your name in
it .1128 (Seldom used I don’t know why) =.40
Swiss leather liner with a rubber lining to
absorb sweat and reduce pressure= 1Mark
1117 Seems to be
a labor charge to change fittings for Infantry,
Arty, or train. I don’t know how you avoid doing
something. = 2
1118 Seems to be
the same thing for a cruciform base and a much
1119 makes it
feather weight = 1
1120 is the white
material in the skullcap. We will pass.
1121 A Liner....
got to have one =2
1124 Charge per
letter to put your unit number in. I’ve only
seen this once – we pass.
crosses and names we can do without. But we have
a total now of 27,5
the parade stuff. A Busch and Trichter.
Again not all units had these really reducing
the expense (16.1 Marks). It would not be a
unit we would cherish to be in.
again. Notice how white is not only less common
but also more expensive. We will go for top of
the line black which costs the same as bottom of
the line white. 15
Our total is now a whopping 42.5
A couple of interesting points. One is the
lack of standardization in the spike threads.
This disclaimer clearly warns the buyer that if
you didn't buy the female end of the spike base
from the DOV you had to leave the base to match
up the threads. The second
point of interest
is how much cheaper horsehair trichters were. A
third or less! Look at this table for
Just when you
thought you were done the box the
came in costs 10.25
and the tube for the Haarbusch
This adds 11.35
to our original 42.5 for a total
So what does it
mean? This was no small expense. No wonder they
were common gifts given a 54 Mark
price tag. Much
to give. It was easy to add to our costs and
cost way more. If the new officer made 125Marks
month then 43% of a month’s salary. When you
start adding in
and horse furniture you needed another source of
funds. There is little doubt that the debt load
of a young officer without another source of
income would be huge. The notorious book Life
in a Garrison Town detailed the story of
officers seeking loans and money constantly.
While uniform costs were not singled out in that
You can see how uniform costs could drive up
total cost and one can understand how
became the financial salvation. DeBeers, diamond
sellers and wedding planners today recommend
the groom spend two month's salary on an
engagement ring. Pickelhaube were not that bad
but if you needed three of them?
Did you need three
of them? No. Especially as a One Year Volunteer
(OYV) I doubt if you had three. But a line
officer I cannot imagine having less than two.
You could lose one or it could be damaged or
wet. Wet leather helmets would be fun as
Pickelhauben are not waterproof.
One of the most
practical comments generated by an early draft
of this article was that there must have been a
thriving business in used Pickelhauben. You
wouldn't throw something that cost this much
away. They also had a service at the DOV for
rebuilding helmets on pg 40. Seems like a new
one might be almost as cheap but for 15 Marks
you could reclaim an old helmet. rebuilding and converting helmets was a major source of revenue for retailers. Conversions of old-style helmets, one-year volunteer helmets, and helmets for different regiments were made available through different sellers. Repairs were offered. This COULD
explain a bunch of professionally plugged double
holes. It also shows minor state helmets here.
You could mail order a helmet so to
Bowman, J.A. The Pickelhaube Volume 1,
Line Infantry, Imperial Publications,
Lancaster, England, 1989, pg 345.
Bowman, J.A. The Pickelhaube Volume 2,
Wartime, Ersatz,Reserve & artillery,
Imperial Publications, Lancaster , England , 1992, pg 27.
Martin, A.G., Mother
Country Fatherland, Macmillan & CO, London , 1936.
Op cit, Bowman V2, pg 27.
Fuhrer durch Heer und Flotte ,
Verlag J Olmes,
Rabenau, von Die deutsche Land- und
Seemacht und die Berufspflichten des
Offiziers, Mittler u. Sohn, Berlin 1913
Clemente, Stephen, For King and Kaiser,
Greenwood Press, Westport , CT
, 1992, pp. 161-162.
Deutsche Officer Verein, Preislist 27, Armeehaus , Berlin
Op cit Bowman, Volume 1 pg 345.
Behleidungs-Vorschrift für Offiziere und
Sanitäts-Officecere des Königlich
Preussischen Heeres ,
Berlin , 1911, Mittler & Sohn.