A few weeks ago I finally got the chance to view a round bottom DRK decal. I had posted a topic on German Helmet Walhalla in 2012 on these decals , trying to get a discussion going on their possible originality. The consensus reached in that topic was to keep them in the fake category.
I was surprised when I saw the round bottom DRK decal featured in the book “The helmet decals of the Third Reich” as one of 2 authentic DRK designs. I was determined if somehow a helmet with such a decal would cross my path I needed to examine it with the USB microscope and see what that would tell me.
A few weeks ago I was able to look at a helmet , a blueish M34 , with the decal in question. I only had my portable USB microscope with me , while it displays nice and sharp on screen the photos I took are of sub standard quality.
USB examination results
I saw pretty quickly that the decal ticked all the boxes that I like to see when looking at an original decal at high magnification. For those not familiar with the USB microscope it can zoom in at 2 settings. 25x or 200x. So what did it show me ?
- Correct colors (the white looks like a solid milky white substance)
- Correct depth and texture (you can see the layers overlapping one another , the black and red printed on the white)
- Straight lines at 200 magnification become wavy lines , corners are very rounded not nice and sharp.
- Damaged area shows correct thickness of the decal
Overall I was surprised at how well this decal matched with an original.
USB close-ups at 25x and 200 zoom.
Taking the evidence to court
These findings needed to be discussed now amongst collectors. There is a reason that this decal has been called out as a fake for 72 years. Let’s consider this.
- Without looking at the close-ups that aspect alone is worth looking at. The accepted pointy DRK decal is only found on M34 civic style shells , the majority of grey color. The really early ones on green M34 shells. The round bottom decal however is also found on gladiator shells and beaded combat shells. Most in Luftschutz color. I saw only one on a grey shell as you would expect. This in itself is difficult to explain.
- Lack of photographic evidence. No period pictures so far have been discovered with these decals.
- A decal created before the digital age but after WW2 would / could have the exact same traits as a wartime produced decal under high magnification.
- Collectors that have specialized in these helmets remember the round bottom decal appearing in the seventies and on all kind of shells. This checks out with point 1 , 2 and 3.
While the decal itself seems construction wise to come very close to an originally produced Third Reich era decal there are too many what if’s surrounding its application. The fact that collectors that were collecting long before me already had put this decal in the fakes section says more than some USB close-ups. We have to accept that we always have to work with tools and it’s our logic and common sense that needs to tell us what the tool is showing. For now this decal will remain where it is , in the fakes section.