Pickelhaube


The Pickelhaube or Pickelhelm, was a spiked helmet worn in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by German military, fire-fighters, and police. Although stereotypically associated with the Prussian army, the helmet enjoyed wide use among uniformed occupations in the Western world.

Otto von Bismarck wearing a Pickelhaube

The basic Pickelhaube was made of hardened or boiled leather, given a glossy-black finish, and reinforced with metal trim, usually plated with gold or silver for officers that included a metal spike at the crown. Early versions had a high crown, but the height gradually was reduced and the helmet became more fitted in form. In 1867 an attempt at weight reduction by removing part of the front and rear peaks did not prove successful.

Some versions of the Pickelhaube worn by German artillery units employed a ball-shaped finial rather than the pointed spike. Prior to the outbreak of World War I in 1914 detachable black or white plumes were worn with the pickehaube in full dress by German generals, staff officers, dragoon regiments, infantry of the Prussian Guard and a number of line infantry regiments as a special distinction.

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