By Dennis Gaffney
Militaria expert Bruce Herman says that most collectors are drawn to Pickelhaube helmets for one reason. "Their appeal is the spike," Bruce says of the pointy adornment known as a spitze in German. "That feature makes these helmets unique, and they set the tone for helmets through the second half of the 19th century."
But it's not only Americans (their most common collectors) who desire them. "These are universally popular," explains Bruce, who is based in Pasadena, California. "Collectors come from Australia, Sweden, Germany, South America...I've encountered collectors from all over the world." We asked Bruce to educate Antiques Roadshow fans about the history of Pickelhaube helmets and to provide some tips to potential collectors about what to look for. Here's what he told us.
A Prussian Design
The Pickelhaube helmet was introduced in 1842, at a time when King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia undertook a major modernization of his army. Until then, his soldiers still wore the shako style typical of the Napoleonic Wars. Wilhelm tossed aside this headgear—tall, cylindrical hats now commonly worn by school marching bands—popular among Western armies in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. . ,
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Photo from Steve Miller