c1900 Imperial German East Asia Engineers Tropical Pickelhaube


An extremely rare original combination pickelhaube and pith helmet, that was worn by an Non Commissioned Engineer Officer, in the Imperial German East Asian Brigade.

These troops were sent to China during the Boxer Rebellion of 1899 - 1901. It was a short campaign and few soldiers had been sent, so militaria from the East Asian Brigade is amongst the rarest of the German Empire.

The black leather pickelhaube was deemed to hot for warm climates and the German soldiers wore a combination of sun helmets (some even British) in white or khaki. They also wore the Overseas Colonial helmet plate, which is similar to the eagle on the Imperial Standard. The 'Arm of Service' was represented by a horizontal band in white for infantry, red for cavalry and black and red for Artillery and Engineers. This helmet has the black and red of the Engineers (Pioniere) as, if it was Artillery it would have a ball on top, instead of a spike. This helmet is very unusual and rare and probably very early, because it has a cloth cover in black (now faded to grey) instead of white or khaki. It is also of a lesser height than the standard Ludwig Bortfeldt pith helmets, again trying to copy the pickelhaube shape.

The spike is fluted, which is generally an officer attribute, but the cruciform holder has the round retaining pins of other-ranks. The underside has a front and back peak, lined in green silk material and a black leather sweat liner. The inside has a size stamp 58 and the owner's name is not legible. The eagle plate is beautifully gilded and appears to be officer quality. There is a leather chin strap neatly fitted over the front peak.

We have not been able to find another example of this helmet in period photos or dedicated websites. It may have been that the black colour was unsuitable to warm climates and very few examples were made.

Condition is extremely good and apart from the fading, and it looks hardly worn.

Size: 28.5 x 21 x 26.5 cm (11 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches)
Weight: 384 g