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Pre 1897 thumbnails
Neg. No: 3504A
Neg. Size: 15"x12"
Neg. Date: 16-9-1902

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Sitter: Baron Hermann von Eckardstein (1864-1933).

Baron Hermann von Eckardstein (1864-1933)

Biog: German diplomat.

ECKARDSTEIN, Hermann Von, Baron [1864-1933]. He entered the diplomatic corps in 1888, serving in London 1891-1901. Though never ambassador, as first secretary he performed most of the functions of one. He resigned from the diplomatic service in 1907. At the beginning of World War 1 he was on the staff of the Crown Prince but was soon removed. As a diplomat and a soldier he was more eager to increase his own prestige and fortune than those of his country. His writings included Personal Memories of King Edward, 1927, and Die Entlassung des Fürsten Bulow, 1931. He married the daughter and heiress of Sir John Blundell Maple, but they later divorced.

[no source ???]

Baron Von Eckardstein, Ten Years at the Court of St. James’ 1895-1905, Thronton Butterworth Limited, London, 1921

[Preface: Prof. George Young] [p 7] Those who remember the official functions of late Victorian and Edwardian London will have a memory picture of Baron von Eckardstein in his white Cuirassier uniform towering above the tall men and women of London society. From his glittering helmet to his gleaming jackboots he seemed an embodiment of the military Empire he represented.

Date: 16 September 1902.

Occasion: -

Location: The Lafayette Studio, 179 New Bond Street, London.

Descr: FL standing.

Costume: Dress Uniform, Brandenburg Cuirasser.

The man in the photo is wearing the dress uniform of the Brandenburg Cuirassers, a heavy cavalry unit. Cuirassiers wore the steel upper body armor, and a metal helmet called a lobster tail by collectors. It had a very long neck extension of overlapping plates that looked somewhat like the overlapping plates on a lobster.

In the Kaiser's time, if you were in any way associated with the government, civil service, police, customs, diplomats, firemen, army, etc., you had a uniform with some type of headress or helmet. This is confusing to some people, as they generally associate helmets with the military.

Diplomats wore a unique spiked helmet made of leather with a fluted spike. The man in the photo is wearing the military uniform of the cavalry, with a metal helmet, but without the metal breast and back armor of the cuirassier, which were a holdover of the 16th Century style of armored cavalry.

By the end of the 18th century, developments in flintlock muskets made body armor obsolete, but some cerimonial and traditional types were kept by the cavalry.

The helmets of 1914 were not meant to stop bullets, shell fragments, or shrapnel balls, they were purely decorative and traditional in nature. By the end of 1916 all armies had developed the ballistic type of helmet that was meant to provide protection from all the flying metal fragments, bullets, and shrapnell balls of the modern battlefield. It was a type of reverse evolution as the nature of trench warfare called back into several obsolete military hardware items back into service including the hand grenade and the short range high trajectory mortar.

The sword, spear, armored helmet, and body armor, grenade and short range mortar ( all associated with close engagement with the enemy) all had been discarded in the 19th century do the long range abilities of the rifle. Weapons discarded in the middle ages also made a short comeback in the trenches, such as the club, the mace, the dagger, the truncheon, etc, which were handy in the close confines of fighting in a trench.

[Information kindly provided by Ralph Reiley]

Orders, Decorations & Medals: Badge and star of the (Austrian) Order of St John and of Malta; badge of an (honorary) Knight Commander of The Royal Victorian Order (K.C.V.O.); star of the (Mecklenburg) Order of the Griffin; badge of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern; badge of the (Prussian) Order of the Red Eagle; badge of the (Prussian) Order of the Crown ; the Kaiser Wilhelm Centenary Medal (1897).

Furniture & Props: -

Photographer: Lafayette Ltd., 179 New Bond Street, London.

Evidence of photographer at work: -

No of poses: 2.

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Provenance: Pinewood Studios; acquired 1989.


Biog: Baron von Eckardstein, Ten Years at the Court of St. James' 1895-1905, London, 1921; The Times, 7 November 1902, (Court Circular).

Occasion: -

Costume: Baron von Eckhardstein, ibid p. 7.

Orders, Decorations & Medals: (Royal Victorian Order) Burke's Peerage; (Kaiser Wilhelm Centenary Medal) H.T. Dorling, Ribbons and Medals, London, 1983; (others) R. Werlich, Orders and Decorations of All Nations, Washington, 1990; See also Baron von Eckhardstein, ibid. pp. 125 & 245.

Reproduced: -

NB; Vanity Fair, 1898 "A German Attaché"