SS decals – A short guide

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.

  1. The Quist decal – Only found on Quist made helmets.
  2. The ET decal – Found on ET made helmets and also EF helmets
  3. The EF style decal – Found only on EF made helmets
  4. 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.

Medium duty Edelstahl helmet , odd decal placement but 100% correct

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.


20 thoughts on “SS decals – A short guide

  1. sysyphus November 11, 2019 / 2:44 pm

    Perfectly explained as always.
    Lot of people still don’t have clear the relation btw makers, SS decals typology and lot nr.
    How many times we repeat, when it comes to authenticate, to post the whole helmet and infos?
    Bravo Frank!

  2. schwerpunkt November 11, 2019 / 4:52 pm

    Hello Andrea , thank you to review my articles and comment upon them. I appreciate it a lot 😉

  3. Thierry JUIF November 11, 2019 / 4:52 pm

    Thank you for your work to made the verity about SS helmets

    Congrad Frank

    • schwerpunkt73 November 11, 2019 / 5:01 pm

      Thank you Thierry for your kind comment.

  4. Anders L November 11, 2019 / 8:30 pm

    Excellent explained as always Frank.
    We see it everyday on forums and social media, collectors asking if they have done a deal and bought an original SS helmet…
    If they read your guide they will for sure get knowledge off what to check before they spend the cash…

    • schwerpunkt73 November 12, 2019 / 5:20 pm

      Thank you Anders , I am happy that you like it and did not find a mistake 😉

      • Anders L November 13, 2019 / 6:39 pm

        I like your post but do not agree 100% LOL…
        But enough information for most collectors, for hardcore SS collectors there is also fat runes decals, Austrian decals, etc…

      • schwerpunkt73 November 13, 2019 / 8:19 pm

        True , I should have better defined the scope of the article. The ultra ultra rare decals are themselves worthy of their own article.

  5. william wagner November 12, 2019 / 1:47 am

    All your post are always informative, and never boring !!

    • schwerpunkt73 November 12, 2019 / 5:20 pm

      Thanks for your positive note William.

  6. Al November 12, 2019 / 2:26 am

    Absolutely fantastic as usual, thank you for these posts……keep them coming.

    • schwerpunkt73 November 12, 2019 / 5:21 pm

      Will try to keep them coming Al 😉 Thanks for your comment.

  7. Philip Nestor November 19, 2019 / 6:33 am

    Thanks for another great article with photos of different SS decals. I think it would be very helpful to us new collectors to see photos of the real SS decals like in this article but also side by side with fake SS decals and point out the differences and what to look for when trying to spot a fake SS decal.For some of us collectors that aren’t that experienced in spotting the fake decals it can be an expensive mistake and really sour someone on the hobby after getting ripped off! I hope you consider doing a article like that with fake and real SS decal photos in it. Thank you again.

    • schwerpunkt73 December 4, 2019 / 7:11 pm

      Hello Philip , the thing with fake SS decals is that there are so many different designs that it is much more easier to learn to know the original decals.

  8. Marc and Teresa Labovich December 2, 2019 / 7:55 pm


    Love your posts and have learned so much. Not sure this address goes to you or ends up in a waste basket.

    I am looking at a SD camo Luftwaffe M42 that is being offered at the usual “too good to be true” price and as usual, images of the decal are not good. I would appreciate any insight that you might be able to provide.

    Thanks in advance,



  9. Jan Meland December 10, 2019 / 6:00 pm

    I’m very impressed of your excellent web site, the german helmet vault, Frank. Could be nice to add some information from your site in creating a new book hopefully coming in 2020.

    • schwerpunkt73 December 10, 2019 / 8:21 pm

      Hello Jan , thank you very much for the nice compliment. Are you creating a new book or do you mean if I would create one ?

  10. babywbathwater January 20, 2021 / 1:13 pm

    Another thanks and 👍
    Although I’m not a collector I find the subject fascinating. Personally I’d like to obtain more info on field painted SS helmets but there isn’t much available at least not on the internet. I’m absolutely fascinated with the idea that soldier would take the time to repurpose their helmet for other duties like repurposing a combat helmet for parade or camp duties. This would be painstaking work. Would you know/share any sources for further information on the subject. Also with an SS stahlhelm have you seen any examples where the owner has touched up the decals during the repaint? I’ve seen photos where this seems to have occurred.

  11. Paul Kremastiotis January 1, 2022 / 9:07 am

    Very frank and clear , thank you Frank

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