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Schirmmutzen - Imperial German Cavalry Field Service Caps

Discussion in 'Reviews , Video Reviews and Open Book' started by Vader12, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. Vader12 Member

    Publisher: Schiffer Books
    Author: Robert Schiller
    Edited by: Brian Sanders and Bob Palko
    Reviewed By: Steven Weakley
    During the last decades of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th, some of the most elegant and colorful military service caps (schirmmutzen) were worn by the various units of The Imperial German Cavalry. The color combinations identified each regiment, and were the last statement in military fashion before and during World War I. The schirmmutzen had its beginnings in the early 1800’s and are sometimes referred to as “Blucher” caps after the Prussian Field Marshall of Waterloo fame. By the late 18th century it had evolved to its most elegant form and although replaced by a “Feldgrau” (field grey) version after 1910, many units retained the earlier versions for both special and everyday usage. This was especially true of the German Air Force who with their dash and élan as former members of Germany’s Imperial Cavalry, felt that these caps added a bit of color to their walking out dress. In fact, many photos of World War I pilots show them wearing these caps in various non-aerial shots. Many pictures of Manfred Von Richthofen also show him wearing various versions of the schirmmutzen.

    The field service cap was referred to as the schirmmutzen or “visor cap” and was worn by officers and NCOs’, while other ranks wore a visorless version called a mutze. The quality of these caps varied greatly depending on how well heeled the owner was and a wealthy Einjarigen (one year volunteer) could better afford a higher quality cap than a struggling Hauptmann (captain). Many officers typically had at least two or more schirmmutzen, one for walking out dress and a cheaper, less quality version for garrison and field duty. There was also a variety of styles from the high-stiff elegant style to the floppy version with the latter style most notably worn by the Red Baron.

    With the progression of World War I, the quality of materials available for the manufacture of these caps declined and it is often common to find examples of these caps manufactured with a combination of pre-war and wartime materials which brought about quite a number of non-regulation versions. With this in mind, it is possible to see multiple versions of caps within the same regiment. One of the collectors who provided many of the examples shown in this book has seven variations for one regiment alone.

    For the cavalry regiments, the schirmmutzen was worn on practically all occasions where the wearing of the regulation headdress (helmet, busby, etc.) was not required. A frequent regulation bender, Crown Prince Wilhelm appears in many photos wearing the parade tunic of the 1st Leib Hussar Regiment and a schirmmutzen.

    Some of the military headdress manufacturers remained in business up until 1945 manufacturing caps for the German Army and during the 1920’s and 1930’s made replica schirmmutzen for veterans to wear to reunions and other military functions. By this time, better materials were once again available and the caps were manufactured as close to regulation as possible.

    This book is the first complete reference on schirmmützen that displays and describes the headgear for all branches of the Imperial German cavalry with both the pre-war models as well as the World War I model caps included. The book itself is not the typical Schiffer book size measuring in at 9 ¼ x 6 ¼ x ¾ but as is usual for Schiffer, all ten chapters are full of fantastic color photography and excellent quality B/W period photos and postcards of the caps themselves and the soldiers who wore them. What really caught my eye when I first opened the book was the myriad of colors used by these units encompassing many colors of the rainbow in all sorts of combinations. The other cool thing I learned while going through the book was that all of these caps have 2 cockades on them, the cockade representing the German state the unit was from was located on the band of the cap and the national cockade was located on the crown of the cap.

    The book itself is divided into ten chapters with the first nine being devoted to all the branches of the Imperial German Cavalry, cap characteristics and manufacturers. The 10th chapter covers period photographs of the schirmmützen being worn by the various cavalry regiments. Also included at the end of the book is an extensive set of appendices covering all the various pre-war and wartime schirmmützen, giving each unit’s cap color, band color, piping color, state cockade and unit designation. All in all, a pretty cool book with lots of information for both the modeler and collector.

    Schirmmutzen Cover.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 1.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 2.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 3.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 4.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 5.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 6.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 7.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 8.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 9.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 10.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 11.jpg Schirmmutzen Inside 12.jpg
    yeo_64, Russ5281 and Wings5797 like this.

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