French First Empire Line Grenadier's Shako, M1812, reproduction


French First Empire M1812 shako of a 2nd Infantry Regiment Grenadier. The Second saw duty throughout the Empire, culminating with its service in combat at Waterloo. This shako—as with all our Napoleonic reproductions--is the finest available, constructed with techniques, materials, and craftsmanship seldom seen since 1815.


The shako body is crafted of the correct fuller’s board, covered on its interior with vintage hempen cloth, shellacked. The exterior is covered with the highest-quality black woolen broadcloth, loomed in the nineteenth century. The visor and crown are of molded, oak-tanned leather, formed in exactly the same fashion as those employed by The Emperor’s headgear contractors. The sweatband is of oil-tanned black calfskin, stitched to a handloomed hempen headnet, cinched with a hemp drawstring. Size is 7 ¼ to 7 3/8 (European 58-59), with minor adjustment accomplished via the brass-buckled strap at rear.


The shako’s trimmings are similarly excellent. The grenadier-specific 1812 frontplate was stamped of solid brass sheet by a superbly-talented French craftsman, and emblazoned in black enamel with the regimental numeral. The tricolor cockade, hand-molded of oak-tanned leather, was handpainted in slightly subdued shades to avoid the unsettlingly garish presentation typically seen in other offerings. The scarlet tape trimmings—the crown band and side chevrons--denote the veteran grenadier’s honored status, as does the wooden-cored scarlet woolen pompon. Handcrafted chinscales, lined with fine black kipskin, are anchored with the grenadiers’ flaming bomb sidebuttons.


This piece was copied from a surviving original example in the Recorbet Collection (see Leroy’s Coiffures de l’Armee Francaise , [Supplement, Plate 12]). As with everything else we make, this shako combines unimpeachable historical authenticity with the finest materials and most accomplished craftsmanship. The level of fit and finish is unrivaled.