The First World War

Side Weapons of the Corps

The dagger which was transformed from a civilian to military sidearm went through a number of configuration changes. Contained in the ca. 1916 K.Kf.K. regulations the dagger to be worn  is described as containing a 30 centimeter long, pointed, sharpened, tapered blade. Crossguard with two knob shaped ends, silver wire stretched around an ivory grip, concluding with a silver plated Kaiser crown. In the center of the crossguard, a gold plated 1.5 cm long horn. The scabbard is further described as brown leather with silver plated fittings with the top fitting containing a hook open from the bottom.

Every Imperial German edged weapon collector will immediately recognize that the regula­tion is describing the Automobile Corps dagger along with the bayonet 98/05 as official sidearms of the K.Kf.K. The dagger adopted and worn was the pattern de­veloped after 1912. This dagger was copied directly from the long model, open crown pommel naval officer dagger, with the exception that these daggers contained silver fittings, and the horn emblem of the organization was placed in the centre of the cross­guard and a brown leather scabbard.

Preceding the wartime K.Kf.K dagger were a variety of other Auto Corps dagger patterns. Commencing in 1905 with the establishment of the DFAC, the sidearm to be worn was a large ivory handled hunting cutlass. This beautiful weapon was nearly 24 inches long. The hilt consisted of an ivory grip with vertical grooves and 3 silver acorns pinned to the obverse. The metal fittings of the hilt were nickel silver. The crossguard retained the classic medieval cross shape. A grooved top and clamshell butt plate completed the hilt. The brown leather scabbard containing two hanger rings, throat and bottom fitting completed the weapon. The choice of materials for this hunting cutlass continued into the Auto Corps daggers.  When looking at the variety of Auto Corps daggers it is interesting to see their close re­lationship with naval dag­gers of the same period. It is most likely coincidence but early naval officers also wore a hirschfanger before the adoption of the dirk in 1848.

The Auto Corps Hirschfanger is photographed being worn as late as 1912. Con­currently with the wear of the cutlass a dagger was being developed and worn. While there have been no period regulations discovered on the earliest Auto Corps daggers it is hypothesized from ex­isting examples that they were first produced with closed crown naval style 1890 pommels, imitating the development of the navy dagger. Further imitating naval daggers, early Auto Corps examples exist with ivory baluster shaped grips that were produced without wire wrap­ping. Closed Crown Auto Corps daggers are seen, as with later Auto Corps daggers fit­ted with a crossguard which may or may not contain the gold plated brass horn.  The scabbards of these early closed crown daggers follow the patterns set by the hirschfanger being of brown leather with silver fittings, the top fitting displaying the bayonet type hook.  The K.Kf.K. regulations specified that the portepee to be worn with the dagger is silver with the black and red stripes.

Photos Vic Diehl Collection
  • Early hirsch­fanger or hunting sword of the German Automo­bile Club.  This mas­sive edged weapon was mounted in Ger­man silver. The brown scabbard had two nickel silver suspension rings. The grip is genuine ivory. The over all length of the hirsch­fanger is 24 inches with a 16 inch blade. It is believed that the firm of Carl Eickhorn was the sole manufacture of this exquisite weapon.

Photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • The reverse of the hilt of the Auto Club Hirschfanger. There are a couple of important features of which collectors should be aware.
    This piece is unmarked as to maker. A number of impor­tant features of this scabbard were carried over to the Automobile Club dagger that replaced it. Among those carry over features were the brown leather scabbard and stitching on the reverse, with decorative vertical lines on the leather body. The nickel-silver fittings were also carried over to the dagger. Two features of these fittings ap­pear on pre-war daggers: The eyelet ring and the double horizontal decora­tive lines. Pre-war daggers exhibit the same eyelet and moveable ring con­figuration as seen here; where, as on later daggers observed to date, the eyelet has been removed and the suspension ring is attached di­rectly to the locket. Regarding the horizontal decorative lines on the fittings, they go from two double lines on the front to a single double line on the reverse. Later daggers generally do not show this decoration anymore. They are found with two double lines on the obverse and reverse, or either two double lines on the obverse and none on the reverse.

Photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • Wilhelm Siercke from Hannover in the north of Germany . He is proudly wearing his Hirschfänger.  He had won the Kaiserprice race 1912. He was the chairman of the rubber company Excelsior. Siercke entered the DFAC in March 23, 1905. His member number was 82 and later he became a member of the KKfK.
Photos and dagger Vic Diehl Collection
  • Early Automobile Corps Sidearm
    This early transitional sidearm features a brass dagger style hilt and hirschfanger blade.  The weapon even though configured differently from the standard Automobile Corps dagger adheres to all size regulations ex­actly. The total length is 45 cm from the bottom of the scabbard to the top of the pommel cross. The crossguard is exactly 8 cm. wide and the grip is precisely 12.5 cm. from the top of the pommel to the bottom of the cross­guard.

    The scabbard has a couple of variant features. The top fitting has no horizontal decorative lines and no scabbard throat is soldered on the top.  Instead of a throat fitting, red felt like the hilt washer has been glued to line the entry of the upper fitting.  The brass scabbard fittings are scalloped, as is typical, where they meet the scabbard body. The lower fitting does have the decorative horizontal lines on the obverse, but the reverse is plain. The black leather scabbard shows remains of the original brown paint used to meet color regulations.  The scabbard is made without liners.

Dagger and photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • Automobile Corps Sidearm Hilt
    The sidearm hilt is summounted with a brass closed crown pommel in the same style as the 1890 naval dagger. The genuine ivory grip is baluster shaped with a twisted steel wire wrap. The grip is not rounded but slightly flat­tened when viewed from the side.   The obverse crossguard bears the brass Automobile Corps horn affixed to the crossguard with two pins. The horn was originally gold-plated. The dagger hilt was produced without a butt plate. A red felt washer was placed between the blade shoulders and the crossguard when the weapon was origi­nally assembled.  This weapon does not feature any type of blade locking device. 

Photo and dagger Vic Diehl Collection
  • Sidearm Hirschfanger Blade
    This Hirschfanger style single edged blade is 30.8 cm. long and 2.2 cm wide. The ricasso is not maker marked. The obverse etch features the typical period floral etch with the central scroll motto “ Mit Gott fur Kaiser u. Reich”.  The reverse blade etching has the floral pattern highlighted with a decorative martial motif. The blade spine has an etched leaf pattern seen on many Hirschfanger blades.

Dagger and photo
Vic Diehl Collection
  • A rare early example of  the closed crown pommel version of the brass mounted Automobile Corps Dagger. This early model dagger is devoid of organizational insignia. The  ivory handle is baluster shaped and was produced  without wire wrap, as with many early navy daggers. The brass scabbard throat is integral with the top scabbard fitting.
    The blade of this dagger is over 13 inches long. It has a central ridge and double fullers, 3 inches long entending back from the point. The blade is unplated.

Daggers and photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • Three rare Automobil Corps daggers

    Regulations for these dag­gers pre­scribe as total length in scabbard of 45 cm, grip from bottom of the cross­guard to the top of the pommel 12.5 cm and a crossguard 8 cm wide. The left dagger is Bavarian and is 44.5 cm over­all. The crossguard is 7.4 cm wide. The dagger is silver plated brass construction throughout. The well toned ivory grip is separated into 8 panels by a twisted silver plated brasswire. The hilt is topped by the rounded royal Crown of Bavaria. The 12.5 inch blade is etched with a double floral design and martial trophies. The obverse blade features a centrally located crowned German Eagle. The blade is not nickel plated.The manufacture stamp of the crowned "Z" is located on  the ricasso. The brown leather scabbard is mounted with standard fittings.

    The center dagger is of standard size being 45 cm long. The 6 panel ivory grip is wrapped with silver wire. The hilt is topped by the octagonal, closed finial Crown of the Imperial Germany. This large crown is solid German silver. The centrally located organizational horn on the crossguard was origi­nally gold plated. The crossguard is exactly 8cm wide.The scabbard is un­usual in that it was constructed of black leather and then painted brown. The blade has a central ridge and is etched and nickel plated. The reverse etched design is the double sided floral design later copied by Voos and other manufacturers. The obverse blade also features the double sided floral design separated by a centrally located Prussian Crown.

    The right dag­ger is massive in size being 48 cm (19 inches) long.  The con­struc­tion is nickel sil­ver throughout. The baluster shaped ivory grip is remi­nis­cent of early navy dag­gers and the wire ends are pegged into the drilled ivory grip with pegs of wood.  The grip is sepa­rated into 6 pan­els by twisted silver wire. The wire ends are wooden pegged into the drilled ivory grip. The top of the grip is completed with the rounded fini­als of the Hohenzollern Crown of Prus­sia. The 3 inch crossguard has a center panel that is stip­pled and without or­gan­iza­tional in­sig­nia. The 13 1/2 in blade has a cen­tral ridge and is 3/4 inches wide at the ricasso. The brown leather scabbard has silvered fittings, with the top fitting con­taining the frog stud for verti­cal wear and the suspension ring for horizontal presenta­tion. Both scabbard fittings are marked "1.".  These daggers typi­cally do not have scabbard liners.

Dagger  and photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • The beautiful Bavarian Kraftfahr Korps Officer dagger. This entire dagger is brass mounted with silver plating. The genuine ivory grip is wrapped with twisted steel wire and topped with the Bavarian royal Crown with its royal Orb and eight arches. The upper scabbard fitting contains the regulation frog stud. The blade on this dagger is etched steel without nickel plating. The blade features a centrally located German Eagle among a martial trophy motif. The length of the blade is 29,9 cm long by 1,7 cm wide.
Daggers and photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • The Prussian and Bavarian Automobile Corps Daggers side by side for comparison. The daggers are both silver mounted with etched blades and brown leather scabbards. The silver wire wrap of the ivory grips differ slightly. This particular Bavarian model does not have a crossguard mounted horn. The primary difference between these two daggers are their distinctive pommels. The Prussian dagger features the Imperial German Crown while the Bavarian piece is capped with the crown of the famous Wittelsbach dynasty.
Daggers and photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • These dagger pommels represent important crowns of Germany. Left and right are imperial crowns. Their shape comes from the 11th century. The central crown is a Bavarian crown of the Wittelsbacher dynasty.
Dagger  and photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • Top view of one example of the Automobile Corps Dagger scabbard throat. It is integral with the tip fitting and has no screws. This fitting is notched for the bowed spring of the dagger to hold it in place. Other throats are rectangular with the dagger held in place by friction or with a push button spring. The push buttons on the daggers may be one or two piece. as seen on Imperial naval daggers.
Dagger and photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • Detailed view of Kraftfahr Korps dagger hilt. The crown is solid German Silver. Collectors should note the black leather scabbard that has been painted brown.  The chipping paint can easily be seen. Brown leather scabbards were required by the regulations. The blade on this example is 29,9cm long and 1,69cm wide.
Dagger  and Photos Vic Diehl Collection
  • The beautiful and precisely etched Auto Corps blade with nickel plating. Many other etched blades are seen without the plating. Both the royal crown and the prussian eagle will be found as part of the decorative motif.
Photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • The later Automobile Corps Dagger with regula­tion portepee tied in the cor­rect manner to show the or­ganiza­tional horn on the cross­guard. The double wire grip wrap is seen after 1912.
Frog, dagger and photo Vic Diehl Collection
  • Standard Automobile Corps  frog worn with the officer´s dagger. The frog is dyed cowhide and hand stitched. A rarely seen item.
  • An exquisite Kraftfahr Korps Officer dagger by Pack & Ohliger. This dagger is regula­tion size throughout. The beautifully toned ivory grip is divided into 6 panels by a dual wire wrap as found on some 1901 Naval Officer dirks after 1901. The heavily silvered brass fittings show strong detail and are excellent through­out. The Imperial Crown pommel is precisely detailed exhibiting the alter­nating German Crosses and Eagles. The cross on top of the pommel is undam­aged. A gold plated auto horn adorns the crossguard. The blade shows only light age and is decorated with a double floral design with war trophies. The regulation scabbard is brown leather with excellent conditioned silvered fit­tings. All parts were numbered together for assembly with “12.”. A very fine collectible  dagger.
  • A standard Auto Corps  dagger blade displaying the wonderfully Germanic trademark of Pack Ohliger and Company. Other trademarks found on these daggers are WK & C (different periods), Carl Eickhorn, back to back squirrels and the crowned "Z" of Clemen and Jung.  Many Auto Corps blades contain no maker mark.
Dagger and photo Vic Diehl Coll.
  • Bavarian Kraftfahr Korps officer dagger in wartime fittings. The dagger hilt is aluminum and the scabbard fit­tings are steel.  The mounts of the dagger and brown scabbard are subdued by being painted with black enamel. The brass horn pinned to the cross is highly detailed. The blade is etched with a martial trophy motif. The genuine ivory grip is wrapped with blackened silver wire. The distinctive Bavarian royal crown is highlighted with gold paint, as is the cross.

As a final post script to the patterns of Automobile Corps daggers we add the following. This writer was recently notified by a well known collector in Canada that he had in his possession an Automobile Corps dagger with a black horn grip. After examining detailed pictures of this dagger we offer the following conclusions. This dagger is a genuine example of an early war­time production dagger with the addition of a black horn grip, with proper wire wrap. This writer feels this was not a standard production dagger as were the black gripped "mourning pattern" naval daggers of the period 1919 and 1921. It is our opinion that this black grip was added after the war by an Automobile Korps veteran in the "Spirit of Solidarity" with his comrades in arms in the German Navy. This was indeed a noble tribute. We would hasten to add that we would like to hear from collectors regarding other black gripped Automobile dag­gers. This writer made mention of a stag horn gripped Automobile Corps dagger in an earlier reference. Since that time I have heard directly for a collector that he was fully aware that the horn grip was a modern replacement for a shattered ivory grip.

For German dagger collectors in the late 1960's and early 70's other than original catalogs there was really only one book available for English speaking collectors and that was the work done by the late James P. At­wood.

Let one of the authors of this article, Vic Diehl, explain how he run into one of the rarest informations about the Automobile-Corps daggers.

“I learned to know Jim at military shows in the 80's, he was always happy to discuss a dagger or two.  In 1990 I attended a show and Jim was there, only this time instead of walking around visiting, he was selling daggers as well as a huge collection of books and documents from the Solingen firm of Carl Eickhorn. I felt like a kid stumbling on a "piece of eight."

I asked Jim if I could search through his books and records for any information that may be available here on Imperial German navy daggers as well as Automobile Corps pieces.  He was happy to help and we both spent most of the afternoon digging through his books.  Finally, I found what I was looking for, hand written production notes for many Imperial navy daggers as well as the Automobile Corps daggers. Complete specifications were written out in production detail with measurements and mate­rial.  Interestingly enough, the Auto production notes re­lated to the Automobile Club and the early war­time Automobile Corps daggers. Here was the first piece of evidence that Automobile Corps dagger production continued into the war pe­riod.  The photo I took of Jim's pattern book is reproduced here for every collector to enjoy”.

The photos have been reproduced with the previous owner´s permission, regrettably we do not have access to the original. Some of the text-passages must remain incomplete.

 „Automobildolch für kaiserlichen AutomobilClub/freiwilliges Automobil Corps in ...felbar, versilbert mit vergoldeter Huppe (Hupe/Horn) auf der Parierstange.

...dolchklinge 19/30cm poliert und 20 cm Damastisiert auf  N 3075

Braune Lederscheide mit stahligen Beschlag auf der inneren Seite gedrahtet, mit ... rundum

Mundblech mit Deckel auf oberer und unterer Seite 80 und zu beiden Seiten 68mm lang

Parierstange 80mm lang, die innere Stange glatt und die äußere Stange mit ver­goldeter Huppe. Offene Krone am unteren Ende 19mm breit.

Elfenbeingriff zwischen Parierstange und Krone 70mm lang, mit 12 Fasen, davon sind die Hälfte 3 und die andere Hälfte 7mm breit; Rest ist der Raum zwischen den Fasen, 3 und 7mm ... ist in jeder Fase einen dünnen versilberten gezwirnten Draht. Der Griff in der Mitte 24mm breit, 20mm dick.

Auf der inneren Seite is eine Feder auf eine Angel genietet, welche 12mm lang unter der Pa­rierstange hervorkommt, auf den Kopf und hält die Scheide im Deckel fest.

Weißes Stoßleder (white leather buffer pad)

A remarkable technical description and a goldmine for the ambitious collector of such German Blankwaffen.

Photo Vic Diehl collection

The original Carl Eickhorn Automobile Corps printers cliché used in the pre-war sidearm pattern book.

Dagger, pistol and photo
Vic Diehl collection

The Kraftfahrt Officer Dagger and Luger as dictated by KKftK regulations. The Luger was to be worn with black holster and magazine pouches on the black field belt. This officer dagger features a cast brass horn on the crossguard and an  Imperial Crown open pommel  in solid German silver. Early Auto Club edged weapons were worn horizontally. Many Kraftfahrt Officers preferred this manner of carry with the war time dagger. This scab­bard features a field made leather band and hanger ring for that purposes.


The German Imperial Automobile Corps and its daggers - By Vic Diehl and H.Hampe