World War One Helmets and Vintage Military Posters
May 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Hillsborough Antiques show in April was amazing. There were a number of new dealers in the show who brought in fresh merchandise and that added excitement to an already stellar display.
One of the booths I was fascinated with was that of a military dealer from Rocklin, CA (Booth 527 at the show) who featured a collection of helmets from both wars, as well as knives, medals and a little bit of ‘trench art’.
I couldn’t help but think about all of the original military posters we have in our collection which feature these very same helmets. Take a look.
The Germans wore a helmet with a spike called a ‘Picklehaube’ in the beginning of World War I. WWI one was largely fought in trenches- wet, miserable trenches that provided needed shelter for soldiers between battles and also provided cover from artillery. “Daytime in the trenches alternated between short periods of intense fear, when the enemy fired, and longer periods of boredom.” (World War 1 by Simon Adams c. 2001)
The Pickle in the Picklehaube turned out to be a target as the German soldiers moved about in their trenches, telling their foes exactly where to fire. As a result, this helmet was discontinued in late 1915.
In this famous poster by Abel Faivre, the Kaiser is shown, head down, vanquished with a broken sword. He is shadowed by the encroaching glorious flags of France, Britain, Italy, Belgium and the United States. The image of the Kaiser with the Pickelhaube is anachronistic because the United States joined the war in 1918, and in fact, saw our first major battle September 12-16 in St. Mihiel.
“And They Thought We Couldn’t Fight” by Claude Forsythe is a famous image of victory which is packed with meaning. France was in peril in early 1918, the war looked like it would be won by Germany and it’s Allies. The US has steered clear of the War since it began in 1914 because we were ‘a country strongly divided’. Our populace, made up of many European immigrants, disagreed about which side to back in the conflict. As a result, The United States was criticized in Europe, even taunted. This poster answers the taunt with a bloody and victorius American soldier carrying three german pickelhaubes as souvenirs.
Here is the US Marines Helmet we saw at the show. The soldier depicted in the “And They Thought we Couldn’t Fight” poster looks as if he may be a Marine. The soldier in “Go Over The Top with US Marines” is unquestionably clad in one. The Marine Insignia on the original helmet is hard to see in the photo above.
Antique Shows offer an incredible window into history. At the recent Hillsborough Antiques Show in San Mateo, these helmets and these posters were both available for viewing and for purchase. Attendees also had the opportunity to visit with dealers who specialize in military history. Today, in 2011, we are approaching the centennial of World War One, which offers us an opportunity to examine these artefacts with 100 years of persepective.