The decal design is simple , just 2 black runes on a silver black bordered shield. SS helmets are highly sought after by collectors and demand much higher prices than Wehrmacht helmets. These 2 things bring them into the crosshairs of fraudulent people. SS decals have been reproduced as early as the seventies.
In the 20st century collectors spoke only about the 1st pattern runes and the 2nd pattern runes. Approximately 15 years ago the first books were released from which we learned there are actually 5 different SS decal designs with each design specifically assigned to a helmet factory (2 in case of EF). Unfortunately some of the research was erroneous and believed all 5 helmet factories produced SS helmets when in fact only Eisenhüttenwerk Thale (ET) , Quist Esslingen (Q) and Emaillierwerke Fulda (EF) produced them. The decals placed on NS and SE/hkp helmets called Champagne runes were proven false over time. You can read more about the how and why here. So we are left with 4 SS decals to study.
- The Quist decal – Only found on Quist made helmets.
- The ET decal – Found on ET made helmets and also EF helmets
- The EF style decal – Found only on EF made helmets
- The Pocher decal – On all but not factory applied except on the Medium duty single vent Edelstahl helmets.
The ET/ckl runic decal
ET already started placing these decals in 1938 on their M35’s and placed them on M40’s and M42’s up till 1943.
There’s one thing to watch out for. I have not come across any M42 with ET maker stamp that carried an SS decal. All the M42 with SS decals are ckl stamped. Maybe they do exist but I have not been able to find one yet.
EF only used this decal very sparsely on their M42’s. EF is decal wise a complicated factory. They also used 3 different Heer decals and 2 different Kriegsmarine decals. Their Luftwaffe decal however is unique to them as is the so-called EF runic decal.
The EF runic decal
This decal is unique and I so far have only observed 1 M40 SS by EF which is in the Hicks SS steel book but there are no close-ups of the decal. You will find this decal predominantly on the M42’s by EF. If anyone of my friends that reads this has an EF M40 SS I would love to see it. This decal was not used on M35’s.
The Quist runic decal
It also looks like Quist started to apply these decals from 1938 onward up to 1943 in the same way that ET did. There are no exceptions like with ET or EF. Quist continued to produce M40’s when the other factories changed over to the M42.
Just one thing to watch for is the decal drop date. Make sure to check rear marked Quist M40’s with the lot number list.
The Pocher runic decal
I kept the best for last. This is the decal that has no rules so it’s important to take extra care when you do an inspection of a helmet with this decal.
The only thing you can take for granted is that it is the only SS decal used on Medium duty Edelstahl helmets.
You can see this decal on M35’s by Q , ET and EF. For example , a lot of black overpainted M35’s will have the Pocher decal. Typically reissued SS helmets will carry a Pocher decal but again mostly M35’s. Following the reissue logic it is possible to find an NS or SE/hkp helmet with a Pocher decal. (although I cannot think of one example).
The Pocher shield was also used on M40’s and M42’s. Often applied over decals of another branch and just like any other reissue decal the Pocher is also found on a myriad of other helmet types like the M16/M18 and appears to have been used on commercial/civic shells as well.
Decal study always boils down to looking and comparing. Each decal shown above is unique. If someone shows you a Q decal without showing you the shell you should be able to say that it is a Quist decal. If then the shell turns out to be an ET shell you were for sure looking at a fake Quist decal. Sounds pretty simple isn’t it ?
That is why it is important to look at the full picture , it is not just about the decal. It is about the maker , the lot number and the other components.
If I see a bad photo of an SS helmet and I can already see the liner is fake , it’s already game over. I don’t need to see more.
That’s it for now , keep collecting ! And as always your feedback is appreciated.