|Photo: Liechtensteinisches Landesmuseum|
Officially it's a Herzogshut or ducal hat though you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a crown. The one above is also not the real thing because the real thing has been missing since at least 1871 when it was discovered that it had been lost. However, in 1976 the nice people of Liechtenstein gave their head of state, the late Prince Franz Josef II, a replica of the historical ducal hat for his 70th birthday, but let's start at the beginning.
|Prince Karl I|
While the contract about the original order has also been missing since the 18th century, a few letters of communication between Prince Karl I and Daniel de Briers are still in the princely archives. These letters reveal that it was planned that the Herzogshut would at least partly be paid for with copper and linen, something not unusual for the time.
De Briers was given an array of lose stones and pearls from the princely collection to create the ducal hat. There were 14 diamonds weighing 12 1/2 carats, 16 diamonds weighing 10 carats, 25 diamonds weighing 5 1/2 carats, 45 diamonds weighing 3 1/4 carats, 6 table cut diamonds, 16 rubies weighing all-together 19 carats and 23 pearls as well as a number of old pieces of (gold) jewellery. However, looking at de Briers' creation, it becomes clear that he even had to purchase a few additional stones as the ones already in the princely collection weren't enough. He also commissioned the help of a few other jewellers and craftsmen to create the crown-like hat.
Possibly as early as late March 1626 but certainly by autumn of the same year, the Herzogshut was delivered to Prince Karl I. The circlet of the crown was modeled on the circlet of the Imperial Crown of Austria. On the rim of the circlet rested eight jeweled acanthus leaves, alternately large and small in size. Inside the crown was a red velvet cap topped with a large jeweled button. When Prince Karl I died in 1627, both the ducal hat and the accompanying sword were mentioned in his will. Two years later, his son and successor Karl Eusebius brought the pieces from Prague to Schloss Feldberg, today known as Valtice. Also in 1629, a case for the hilt was made - the very last mention of the sword.
Eight years later, in 1756, Prince Joseph Wenzel entered all the family's jewellery into another fidei commis, which was to be inherited by the oldest agnate. At the time, all the jewellery was catalogued and the only still existing illustration of the crown-like ducal hat was made. Unfortunately, the ducal hat becoming part of the family fidei commis also marks the last time it was ever mentioned.
Presumably it was still in existence at the time of the death of Prince Joseph Wenzel. While lists of his possessions haven't survived to this day, there is correspondence mentioning two missing rings and a missing Herzogshut would have very likely also been mentioned. When his successor Prince Franz Josef I died in 1781, the ducal hat was lost as there is no mention of it in the princely inventories. Possibly it was sold to Empress Maria-Theresia: In 1772, an unidentified piece of jewellery changed ownership for the rather high price of 22,000 Gulden though imperial inventories do not indicate a ducal hat entering into their possession. However, it is possible that it was reworked prior to coming into Habsburg hands.
In 1976, Prince Franz Josef II, late father of the current reigning prince, was gifted with a replica of the ducal hat by the people of Liechtenstein for his 70th birthday. The Herzogshut, also occassionally called Fürstenhaube, is exhibited at the Liechtensteinisches Landesmuseum in Vaduz.