Bought a silver cigarette case with this engraved on it:

enter image description here

I tried to translate it myself, but I don't know the language at all and couldn't really match up any letters.

I believe it's German because the case has a German Silver hallmark.


2 Answers 2


It is German and the second line is written in Kurrent. The first line is written in "normal" script, which implies a name, personal or local.

The first line reads

Pfann Hptm
[Pfann Cptn.]

Hptm is the abbreviation of Hauptmann which is Captain.

The second line is

Kriegsjahr 1914 - 16
[Year of war 1914 - 16]

As asked in the comments: according to the german Wikipedia article it was usual for some special fields like names or headings to use the "normal" script (lateinische Schreibschrift) parallel to Kurrent for the remaining text.

EDIT 2: As supposed in the comments here the Hptm writtein in Kurrent:

Hptm written in Kurrent

One can sense or assume that this abbreviation is written in a mix of Kurrent and latin Schreibschrift. The H is similar to Kurrent, the p rather unclear, the t latin Schreibschrift and the m is almost the same in Kurrent and Schreibschrift.

  • 3
    How about explaining in this answer why "normal script" implies a name? How Kurrent and normal differ here (or even in general)? Perhaps a more Schönschrift example für "Pfann-Hptm"? Jun 12, 2018 at 18:31
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    Transliterate the proposed Hptm to a standard example either with an appropriate font or manually. I find the reasoning reasonable, but optically unconvincing. I want to read Hptm, I can see how that might make sense to read Hptm but I can not read nor see Hptm there. Since also the P in Pfann is quite freestylish I think the whole thing might benefit from a comparison to highly standardised "and that's how it was supposed to look in a nice school". Jun 13, 2018 at 5:54
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    Presumably Herr Pfann inscribed it himself, in which case it would take on characteristics of a personal signature, which can depart radically from normal handwriting conventions. Jun 13, 2018 at 10:32
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    Wieso ist h in Hptm. klein geschrieben? Wieso steht der militärische Rang hinter dem Namen und nicht davor (Hauptm. Pfann)? War Hptm. überhaupt eine gängige Abkürzung für Hauptmann zu der Zeit? Wieso ist Pfannhptm. zusammengeschrieben? Wieso fehlt der Abkürzg. der Punkt? Jun 13, 2018 at 23:22
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    @userunknown Hptm ist nicht klein geschrieben, das ist das große H in Kurrent. Den militärische Rang nach dem Namen zu nennen ist nach meinem Kenntnisstand nicht unüblich. Die Abkürzung liefert bei einer Internetsuche viele Quellen für diese Zeit - also: ja ist üblich. Die Abkürzung des Rangs ohne Punkt habe ich auch schon oft gesehen, ist wohl auch üblich/möglich. Der fehlende Zwischenraum oder der geringe Abstand ist in der Tat merkwürdig, aber vermutlich schwerlich zu erklären.
    – IQV
    Jun 14, 2018 at 5:48

Could the first line be "Pfann Hptm"? Pfann is a surname, and Hptm is the abbreviation for Hauptmann (captain).

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