A German/Polish winged lobster-tailed burgonet by Cathey Brimage

These Lobster Tail Helmets with attached metal winglets are a puzzle.  They first appear in art of the 1730s when Poland was ruled by a Saxon King, and are worn only by Saxon Cavalrymen – as a practical alternative to the Polish back-mounted wings worn by the famous Polish Winged Hussars.

Poles favoured elaborate burnished steel helmets, yet most surviving winged helmets are obsolete burgonets or ‘Pappenhelmers’ to which the winglets have been added.  Whilst the helmets are usually associated with Poland, there is actually little evidence that winged helmets are Polish rather than Saxon.

Essentailly this is a standard “pappenheimer” type of helmet, used in many Central-European countries, including Poland and Germany.

The distinguished wings on the sides of the helmet might indicate its Polish provenance, but it could just as easily be also for a Saxony, which was united with Poland since the Fridrich August I, Saxon elector was introduced into Polish throne as August II in 1697.

Standard ‘pappenheimer’ type of helmet

Whilst I am aware that there are a number of these winged helmets in the Polish Military Museum, I have found no documented link between these and the Polish Winged Hussars, although when they come up for auction they are invariably described as Winged Hussars Helmets.

Collection Cathey and Rex Brimage

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