Introduction to Early German Pickelhauben


Prussian Pickelhaube M1842

The Prussian infantry adopted a new single breasted dark blue uniform and spiked leather helmet (Pickelhaube) on 23 October 1842. The original Prussian design had a spike with a cruciform base, chin scales, a metal edged squared peak all in yellow metal. On the front was a crowned yellow metal Prussian Eagle. Variations on the eagle were worn by different units. Under the left side chin scale boss was the Prussian (black/white/black) cockade.

The Prussian Cuirassier heavy cavalry, meanwhile adopted a similar spiked helmet in polished steel with a lobster tail neck guard.

On parade duty the spike could be replaced by a horse hair plume for some units. This was usually white or black, depending on the unit and red for musicians. Generals wore feathered plumes. The development of the Prussian Pickelhaube is excellently covered on the Kaiser's Bunker Website.

Soon after, several other German states adopted similar helmets (often made in Prussia), but each with their own variations of heraldic front plates, cockades, spikes and other details. The articles on this website will deal with the differences worn by the smaller states as seen on surviving examples.

Much of the information on these pages is from: 'Kopfbedeckungen. Band 5, Teil I: Die Verbreitung der Pickelhaube in den deutschen Staaten' published by the Military History Museum, Rastatt


Prussian Line Infantry Officers
Pickelhaube M1842
Portuguese Military Museum, Lisbon


Illustration by Richard Knötel from 'Uniformkunde'