Wire camo helmets : Looking for a unicorn ?

The wire camouflage market

Wire camouflage helmets always fetched top dollar for as long as I collect but where 10 years ago a lot trickled over from old collections with solid woodwork provenance the majority of wire helmets beings sold today lack this provenance. Authentic wire camo helmets are rare and hard to authenticate. While camo paint can give us more clues , a piece of wire is just that.11376528_646854798748019_778794875_n

There is good money in wire camouflage helmets and that puts them in the same place like Red cross , SS helmets and multi color camouflage helmets. Right in the crosshairs of frauds.

Getting a consensus

A lot of wire helmets are posted on forums for review. Not even 10% get all round positive feedback. Most get mixed feedback.

Why do collectors not see eye to eye on these helmets ? There is no guidebook what to look for so collectors will have different views on what they like to see.

The fakes don’t help

If collectors collaborate with books on camouflage helmets like the garbage which was published a few years it’s no surprise that fakers keep on having a job.fakesbook

This terribly bad book is a good example where mixing good with bad stuff can make bad stuff good. Confusing isn’t it ?

While today some of these fake wire camo’s are easily dismissed because of an incorrect decal this was not so 20 years or more ago. It is interesting to look at the paint , wire and aging techniques.

You can imagine now the story on the decals is out that fakers have moved on…

Glass half full or half empty ?

Wire helmet collecting has never been easy but with the internet and today’s prices it’s become more difficult finding that unique piece for your collection. Despite the fact many wire helmets are being offered for sale. This should be seen as warning that the market is following demand. Demand of rare helmets can be met in 2 ways.

  • Collectors see opportunities to cash in and sell a couple from their collections.
  • Fakers see opportunities in the rise in demand and drop a few ‘new’ ones in the market

Are you paranoid ?

Let’s not be gullible and think that the SS Champagne rune debacle from 2 years back was the only crooked thing that’s been constructed to help you depart with your hard earned cash. Similar fraudulent constructions have been discovered in other areas of Third Reich collecting. Visors , badges , SS honor rings just to name a few.

Fake camo’s have been doctored up for decades , even in the eighties and probably earlier. There genuinely are people that take pride in it.

fakewireThis fake wire cage is being sold for 6 bucks and is available in several sizes  , it can be buried and will show age after a few weeks.

Even aged it will not fool most collectors but this shows there is a market for it.

Below are some examples , if you want to have fun look at the photos and see what you think. The caption will tell you.

IMG_4329.jpg
Not original

 

2552

2552-1
NS M35 SOLD ON AUCTION FOR 4600 USD , original ? There’s something wrong with the camo in my opinion.

 

fakewire
Fake but look at that paint which is also reproduced. If he gets the wire right it’s a 3500$ Three color camo wire

 

1510hel9-21510hel9-3

1510hel9-5
Being sold as original for 1800$ , My opinion : Wire added for show / value (note fake chinstrap)

I deliberately did not add a 100% authentic wire to the mix above. You can view a few examples on the Camo page of my website.

Where is that Unicorn ?

The point of this article is simple , genuine wire camo’s are extremely rare. They are not available in quantity but they are faked in quantity on many levels. There are quite a Stalingradfew chicken wire helmets available on the market as I write this. Do your homework and do not spend your cash on a fata morgana.

To be continued I’m sure 🙂

Happy hunting

Frank

 

Heer or Kriegsmarine ?

The title of this blog article is a question that many collectors pose on the online forums. The answer to that question is important because if a helmet is a Kriegsmarine helmet it has a higher value. The fact that decals can tone very heavily makes it sometimes almost impossible to see if a decal is silver or gold. Still you do not want to buy a helmet at Kriegsmarine price if it turns out it is not a Kriegsmarine helmet.

I already have a page on GHV that talks about the heavy toning on Heer decals here.

This week-end I had a chance to plug in the USB Microscope again to answer for myself if the helmet I found was a Heer or Kriegsmarine.

WOODWORK FIND : KM or Heer ?

This helmet just surfaced out of the woodwork in Belgium.

The helmet came out of basement that the grandchildren were cleaning out after their grandfather passed away. The grandfather told them he got the helmet from a German soldier. He was still a kid during the war. That is all the story there is to it.

The helmet is an M40 , ET size 66 with a 1940 dated liner band. Lot number is only partially visible 112x.

The camo scheme is interesting as it looks to have been dabbed in mustard green/yellow paint which was spread unevenly across the helmet.

It is in fact very similar to another helmet I have.

Some USB close-ups of the paint.

STEP 1 : USB microscope at 25x zoom

Upon first inspection at home I got excited. The decal is nice and evenly golden. I did not spot an area that looked less golden. And the helmet is an ET which is another box ticked.

I set up my USB microscope and scanned the decal. It blew me away at 25x zoom. Evenly proportioned gold color.

STEP 2 : Looking for the ridge

ET Kriegsmarine decals are know to have a pronounced outline all around the decal. Collectors call this ‘The ridge’. It is part of the KM decal printing process.

You can spot the ridge with the naked eye but in case of a more worn decal or in this case partially overpainted one a black light can help.

kmdh

Unfortunately I could not see the ridge with the black light.

STEP 3 : USB Microscope at 200x zoom

Comparing these close-ups to those of an original KM decal answered my question. As you can compare from yourself below the difference is like night and day.

What do we see in the original close-ups ?

  • Surprisingly at 200 zoom a KM decal’s pulver is made up for 98% out of gold foil but you still see some silver and darker elements in there.
  • The 25 zoom photo shows the same but less pronounced.

A Kriegsmarine decal (left at 25x , right at 200x)

Now the other decal :

  1. It does not show a pulver made up of 2 different components. Even at 200x zoom it is still even in color.
  2. In the right photo you can spot larger areas of silver around the damaged areas.
  3. But also significant is that gold color at 200x zoom looks like a brown wash that is very uneven. You can see small and large clouds. (The results correspond to a similar analysis a few years back)

The decal on the woodwork helmet at 200x zoom.

CONCLUSION

Sometimes we need to go a little deeper to find the truth , this could have been classified as a KM camo helmet and maybe nobody would lose sleep over it. But if we stop analyzing and think that details do not matter we lose control over our hobby and I know people that love to pull away the power of knowledge from collectors as that would give them back the power to sell you utter crap.

Keep on top of your game ! Happy hunting.

Frank