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Das Limpet

Why are Imperial Navy headgear so hard to find?

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Seriously, does anyone have a logical explanation for this? In 15 years of collecting I have only seen a good half dozen in private collections. Even good honest original Kriegsmarine caps can be had for a price if you really want one.

Well, just reply if you have any good information to add. Cheers! -Ron

:catjava:

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Ron,

If you are talking about officer's headgear, I agree. There is not much to be had. I have been collecting for over 40 years and these have been tough to find as long as I can remember. I was fortunate enough to get some issue enlisted caps, but that was years ago. Enlisted caps are available from time to time, as I am sure you know, but those are normally the private purchase pieces that you normally see in period studio photos. All this time, I have been looking for a gray enlisted man's cap to no avail.

It makes me wonder, with three naval divisions serving on the Western Front, just where all of this stuff went. Obviously, none of it was brought back to America, as the AEF did not serve in that area. So I guess that any souvenirs ended up in English or Belgian hands.

Regards,

Chip

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Thank you for your reply Chip!

Indeed it really puzzles me to no end. There are plenty of blue sailor caps to go around (less grey or white ones to be sure), and a good amount of officer daggers if you don't mind spending 2-3000.00. But officer coats and caps just seem to be MIA.

You need a WSS visor? no problem if you have thousands of dollars. Need a good KM cap? a little bit more difficult for a few grand.

And another thing while I am at it. There also seems to be a good numer of Imperial Naval cockades out there too if you don't mind spending 2-300.00 :speechless:

Well, perhaps someone else can shed some light on the subject but I don't honestly see a reason for the shortage.

Puzzled in the U.S.

-Ron

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Glad I got my insignia when I did. Why is it that Petty Officer ratings are offered for sale for over 100 Euros-- and never (as far as I can tell) EVER sell-- and yet officers shoulder boards can ( :unsure: sssssh) still be found for less?

Makes no sense. There seems to be some sort of reversed market pressure going on, for years now, with items aside from ratings' cap tallies simply grotesquely overpriced. Don't dealers NOTICE the dust piling up on unold stock? :speechless1:

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If you are talking about officer's headgear, I agree. There is not much to be had. I have been collecting for over 40 years and these have been tough to find as long as I can remember.

Deckoffizier visor caps and frock coats are even harder to find than officers caps and coats. I have never seen an original Deckoffizier's visor cap in a collection. I have only seen one in some photos of a German navy museum that were sent to me.

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Deckoffizier visor caps and frock coats are even harder to find than officers caps and coats. I have never seen an original Deckoffizier's visor cap in a collection. I have only seen one in some photos of a German navy museum that were sent to me.

I know of -one- that's in a local friend's collection, and it's not for sale (I can't imagine why. :rolleyes: ) I like the look of them, and in order to fill the void in my "wants" list, I resorted to buying one of the repro visor caps on the market. The repro isn't all that great, but it's one of the very few repro items I'm willing to tolerate owning.

Les

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Thank you Thomas and Les

But it still does not answer the question as to why they are so elusive. Imperial navy Jap caps are fairly easy to come by come to think of it.

Help answer this question. Someone out there must have a hypothesis :Cat-Scratch:

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Probably the geographical distribution of souvenirs:

1) IN the first war, there was not the constant direct contact that the opposing ARMIES had. So little opportunity for capturing things. Possibly a relevant analogy would be to say that despite the millions of soldiers involved, what are the odds of finding a specific army REGIMENT uniform? As in not "I want a Feldgrau officer's tunic," but "I want an Oberleutnant from Regiment 432."

2) The post-war occupation gave the northern and coastal areas of the Western Zone to the British. (We can write off what became the DDR naturally). In 1947 as in 2007 the "obvious" barter goods would have borne swastikas, not crowns as far as the average souvenir hunting "amateur" was concerned.

3)In my own Golden Years in the 1980s, Silly Americans paying good money for that "kaiser junk" were regarded by the gleeful German sellers as almost taking candy from babies. If we were silly enough to throw money at them for that old rubbish, that was our problem. It would thius not surprise me if indigenous interest was so low that the unwanted Imperial items were still being thrown away by children of the original wearers then going off to retirement themselves and clearing houses of Pa's Old Junk.

So in 1) there wasn't any and in 2) and 3) nobody WANTED any.

No supply, no demand.

Now if it was SWORDS you wanted, there are-- relatively speaking-- zillions of those around.

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I believe I told this story somewhere before a long time ago, but here it is again.............

I don't know anything about imperial navy headgear, so I could be way off here, but this is my only encounter of some type of officer's cap (I don't know what kind). I lived for a year with my elder brother and his wife in West Berlin, Germany from August 1964 to August 1965. My brother was a US Army lieutenant stationed there. The last couple of weeks I was there we did a lot of touring of the city. We went somewhere on the edge of the Grunewald and there was a rather large brick tower that had a huge statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I in it. We walked up the stairs to the observation platform at the top and there was an elderly man there that appeared to be a caretaker. He looked to be in his 70's or 80's and he was wearing civilian clothes along with some type of imperial navy officer's cap. I just remember the reichs cockade surrounded by a wreath with the imperial crown over the top of it. The cap was in decent shape, but was about as old as the man was.

Edited by Mike Dwyer

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Here are are a couple of imperial naval caps from a friend's collection...

jons206202860020x203892kw4.jpg

jons205202860020x203982dx0.jpg

...includes this line officer, a deck officer and two "true" feldgrau other ranks mutzes..

jons201202860020x202932lg9.jpg

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The old guy I saw at the Kaiser Wilhelm I monument was wearing a hat just like the one in the middle photo Dave posted, the officer on the left in the bowtie and mess jacket.

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Dave,

I have those photos too. Some wonderful things there, but so many things that are similar looking. Perhaps he ought to thin it out a bit (I could help). I mean, why does anyone need so many gray caps? And what's the point of two ?berziehers? :rolleyes:

Chip

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But it still does not answer the question as to why they are so elusive. Imperial navy Jap caps are fairly easy to come by come to think of it.

I had this discussion with a collector up in Canada I write to who has been searching for years for a navy officer and deckoffizier visor cap, he thought there were 5 reasons, and I am cutting and pasting this right from his email.

1. It was the some elements of the Kaiserliche-Marine that mutinied in 29 October 1918 on ships in harbor at Wilhelmshaven, followed by Kiel four days later. Perhaps many of Offizier and Deckoffizier effects were thrown overboard by the mutineers, perhaps some joined and removed their wreaths;

2. Offizier and Deckoffizier presumably had two Schirmm?tze, one for daily wear that they sweated in, one for formal wear. Any second caps may have been on board ships during the grand scuttle at Scapa Flow and were lost on 21 June 1919 when Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter gave the order to scuttle the fleet. Fifty-three ships sank and nine German officers and sailors were murdered by the British in revenge (the last German casualties of the First World War);

3. many men of those ranks almost certainly joined the Reichsmarine in 1919 and wore their old Kaiserliche-Marine Schirmm?tze, with Reichsmarine insignia.

4. as strategic ports, Kiel, Wilhelmshaven, and Bremerhaven suffered major air raids and were almost completely destroyed. So any items in family possessions, may have been destoyed as well in 1945

5. the Marine bases were taken by the Soviets in WWII and were absolutely gutted of everything. Even heavy equipment was removed and taken back to the Soviet Union. Unlike the British who lived on-board, German ships were meant for battle with very meager living quarters. The crews lived in port in barracks and only went to sea to fight. So any items in family possessions, in homes not destroyed, may have been looted in 1945 by Soviet troops.

So actual original Imperial German navy caps, are very very rare.

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Thank you Thomas.

I think your friend in Canada should be commended for his comments. I believe this actually explains their elusiveness.

So many boats being scuttled , destroyed and raided would make all of this make sense.

The photos of the deck officers cap is astonishing as well as the medical cap. I certainly wish we could have a closer look at that rare cap.

If these Kaiser caps had a more serious following of collectors I would think any existing caps would be impossible to afford.

Thanks one and all for responding.

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If these Kaiser caps had a more serious following of collectors I would think any existing caps would be impossible to afford.

Believe me, these caps are already nearly impossible to afford. Here is an issue enlisted man's cap that just sold today on ebay for $827! The white cotton caps sell for even more.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...DME:B:WNA:US:12

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3. many men of those ranks almost certainly joined the Reichsmarine in 1919 and wore their old Kaiserliche-Marine Schirmm?tze, with Reichsmarine insignia.

4. as strategic ports, Kiel, Wilhelmshaven, and Bremerhaven suffered major air raids and were almost completely destroyed. So any items in family possessions, may have been destoyed as well in 1945

5. the Marine bases were taken by the Soviets in WWII and were absolutely gutted of everything. Even heavy equipment was removed and taken back to the Soviet Union. Unlike the British who lived on-board, German ships were meant for battle with very meager living quarters. The crews lived in port in barracks and only went to sea to fight. So any items in family possessions, in homes not destroyed, may have been looted in 1945 by Soviet troops.

So actual original Imperial German navy caps, are very very rare.

Wartime "feldgrau" was limited to a few units that fought as naval infantry (the two Matrosen Divisions) on the western front, and these formations were primarily up against the Belgians, and French. The Naval Divisions in 1918 had some limited use against the British (Ramcke was awarded his GMVK for his leadership during an attack against a British position in 1918). As Rick pointed, out "souveniring' is primarily limited to picking up items from units in the area. This is an important consideration in where items show up after a war.

The Imperial navy was not all "that" large before or during the war, and following the Versailles Treaty was almost non-existent. The Reichsmarine between the wars was mostly limited to coastal defense, mine sweeping duties, and "defensive" measures. The uniforms however, were almost the same, and any pre-war or wartime blues or whites could have been held over for years after the war.

After 1918, many Feldgrau army uniforms were modified (dyed, recut, or simply worn as work clothes by farmers) for civilian useage. The naval uniforms are much easier to modify for civilian use, and by removing braid and buttons, an officer could use a naval frock or duty coat after the war easier than a returning soldier could. The only item of the naval uniform that doesn't immediately "convert" to civilian use is the naval cap. That cap however, is still an item that could be used by the merchant marine, civilian owned ships (and their captains/crews), etc.

The navy was an "Imperial" arm, and as such, recruited from all over the Empire and not necessarily from the coastal areas of Germany. At the end of the war, ex-sailors might return home or if they could find employment (during the economic collapses of the 1920's????) near their old bases.

The German naval bases (see #4 and #5 above) were captured and occupied by British/Canadian forces, -not- the Soviets at the end of WWII. One point above Soviet looting during and after the war. The Communists running things claimed -everything- was state property, and looting for personal gain was a punishable offense. The Soviets did take almost everything they could carry off, but there was a pecking order to what got sent East. Machinery and equipment of all kinds were taken with the expectation that Russia needed rebuilt and almost anything could be of use.

Naval caps are part of a uniform, and if a sailor is out of uniform, he has no need to salute and no need for wearing a military cap of any sort. Other items of his uniform are far more likely to be expropriated for civilian use after the war. Dark blue reefer jackets, dark blue trousers, can be easily worn with or without modifications for post war civilian use. Even whites can be dyed and worn as part of civlian clothing.

The pre-war navy was originally a high-prestige formation. In 1914, many thought the fleet would sweep the British from the seas. Instead, the navy spent much of it's time in port, and unable to break the British-French blockade. The pre-war status fell with the navy's inability to do anything, or perceived inaction in "doing something" to prevent civilians from starving, from industries not being able to get imported raw materials for the war effort, etc.

The 1918 naval mutinies came about for several reasons. After the war, the navy was not seen as a "proud" formation that did it's bit, and many ex-sailors may have not wanted to be associated with having served at home "lounging around" while many soldiers fought, died, or came home missing body parts.

Quite possibly, ego played a part in why many caps didn't survive. The owners probably saw little or no reason for keeping them as they couldn't be worn after the war, and if they were, without running the risk of army-navy rivalries after the war.

Les

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Seriously, does anyone have a logical explanation for this? In 15 years of collecting I have only seen a good half dozen in private collections. Even good honest original Kriegsmarine caps can be had for a price if you really want one.

Well, just reply if you have any good information to add. Cheers! -Ron

:catjava:

Dear Das Limpet,

First of I would like to say that you brought up a very good question, and it was very enjoyable to have read all the results from the question that you asked. They make sense to me.

I was on the Collector`s Guild website and they had this hat, but now it is sold, but here is the picture of it anyway. Nice close up shots. It looks good but I do not know for sure. Anyway have a look...

http://www.germanmilitaria.com/Imperial/photos/G012356.html

Best Wishes,

Justinkase

I also found these Naval hats on Der Rittmeister website that are for sale....

http://derrittmeister.com/productpages/04294.htm

http://derrittmeister.com/productpages/13389.htm

http://derrittmeister.com/productpages/13390.htm

http://derrittmeister.com/productpages/13304.htm

http://derrittmeister.com/productpages/13529.htm

http://derrittmeister.com/productpages/3906.htm

Interesting to look at, if not buy if you can afford.

Thanks

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Wartime "feldgrau" was limited to a few units that fought as naval infantry (the two Matrosen Divisions) on the western front, and these formations were primarily up against the Belgians, and French. The Naval Divisions in 1918 had some limited use against the British (Ramcke was awarded his GMVK for his leadership during an attack against a British position in 1918). As Rick pointed, out "souveniring' is primarily limited to picking up items from units in the area. This is an important consideration in where items show up after a war.

The Imperial navy was not all "that" large before or during the war, and following the Versailles Treaty was almost non-existent. The Reichsmarine between the wars was mostly limited to coastal defense, mine sweeping duties, and "defensive" measures. The uniforms however, were almost the same, and any pre-war or wartime blues or whites could have been held over for years after the war.

After 1918, many Feldgrau army uniforms were modified (dyed, recut, or simply worn as work clothes by farmers) for civilian useage. The naval uniforms are much easier to modify for civilian use, and by removing braid and buttons, an officer could use a naval frock or duty coat after the war easier than a returning soldier could. The only item of the naval uniform that doesn't immediately "convert" to civilian use is the naval cap. That cap however, is still an item that could be used by the merchant marine, civilian owned ships (and their captains/crews), etc.

The navy was an "Imperial" arm, and as such, recruited from all over the Empire and not necessarily from the coastal areas of Germany. At the end of the war, ex-sailors might return home or if they could find employment (during the economic collapses of the 1920's????) near their old bases.

The German naval bases (see #4 and #5 above) were captured and occupied by British/Canadian forces, -not- the Soviets at the end of WWII. One point above Soviet looting during and after the war. The Communists running things claimed -everything- was state property, and looting for personal gain was a punishable offense. The Soviets did take almost everything they could carry off, but there was a pecking order to what got sent East. Machinery and equipment of all kinds were taken with the expectation that Russia needed rebuilt and almost anything could be of use.

Naval caps are part of a uniform, and if a sailor is out of uniform, he has no need to salute and no need for wearing a military cap of any sort. Other items of his uniform are far more likely to be expropriated for civilian use after the war. Dark blue reefer jackets, dark blue trousers, can be easily worn with or without modifications for post war civilian use. Even whites can be dyed and worn as part of civlian clothing.

The pre-war navy was originally a high-prestige formation. In 1914, many thought the fleet would sweep the British from the seas. Instead, the navy spent much of it's time in port, and unable to break the British-French blockade. The pre-war status fell with the navy's inability to do anything, or perceived inaction in "doing something" to prevent civilians from starving, from industries not being able to get imported raw materials for the war effort, etc.

The 1918 naval mutinies came about for several reasons. After the war, the navy was not seen as a "proud" formation that did it's bit, and many ex-sailors may have not wanted to be associated with having served at home "lounging around" while many soldiers fought, died, or came home missing body parts.

Quite possibly, ego played a part in why many caps didn't survive. The owners probably saw little or no reason for keeping them as they couldn't be worn after the war, and if they were, without running the risk of army-navy rivalries after the war.

Les

Wow! Your research should be commended. Well done!! A history lesson all by itself. Bravo!! :jumping:

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Well, that just leaves collecting PHOTOS of hats. :rolleyes:

I like his too!

The baby von Arnauld de la Peri?re brothers in 1905: Lothar (1886-1941, Uboat Pour le Merite winner later Vizeadmiral zS zV) left and Friedrich (1888-1969 later Luftwaffe Generalleutnant) right:

of course, one advantage of IMPERIAL navy headgear is that everyone from F?hnrich to Grossadmiral wore the same cap! The ever-gaseous Hubert von Rebeur-Paschwitz (1863-1933):

'cause I got my insignia in the '80s!

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Mr Research,

In the picture above of The Friedrich von Arnauld de la Peri?re in 1905 he only has a cockade on his cap. Is that a cadet cap of some sort? The uniform is navy but I do not know what that cap is? Thank you.

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Yes, he was still only a "Seekadett." :beer: I have never seen one of those caps-- they were only in that rank for the first year-- but it looks like a bullion insignia just like the higher ranks had.

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Thank you for the answer. If the cap was the same, then it makes sense that a cadet would buy his visor cap as a Seekadett and then when he was promoted to Leutnant z. See he would sew the crown and oak leaves insignia on the same cap. Interesting.

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