10 Questions for the German Helmet Vault

I will answer here some of the questions I often get via e-mail , about the website , about my collection , about buying and selling and so on.

The Questions !

1. Are all helmets presented on your website yours ?

No ! I wish they were. I have asked to use the helmet pictures of many collector friends to make the website as complete as possible. You can find all contributors listed on the Acknowledgements page. Here.

2. You must have a big collection ?

Comparing it with other collections I consider mine a smaller one. My collection is also no longer expanding even decreasing as interests in specific helmets change when time goes by. I also sometimes buy helmets as study material and sell them. This way of working has helped me getting my hands on a great volume of helmets.

3. Where does all the information on the website come from ?

The backbone of the information comes from the early books like Baer’s books. But online forums have been the biggest source of knowledge simply because it is a venue where many knowledgeable collectors meet and I have been able to learn a lot from them. I dare to say that in the last 15 years there’s been a serious increase in what we know about German helmets. The only drawback of online communities is that the information is scattered. You have to know what to look for which is why I created the German Helmet Vault. To gather all that knowledge in one place.

4. Where do you buy helmets ?

Over the years I have bought everywhere. There was a time when I bought 90% online from dealers and collectors. The last 3 or 4 years I seem to find a lot on local fairs and I find more enjoyment buying a helmet in hand these days. Helmets are offered to me as well by dealers and collectors that know what I look for.

5. Do you sell helmets ?

Yes , that happens. I like to keep my collection within some boundaries I set for myself so when something new comes in something else aways goes out. I prefer to sell via the online forums like German Helmet Walhalla and Wehrmacht awards.

6. Why do you collect Nazi items ?

I collect because I always have had an interest in military history. I actually started out with edged weapons but when visiting a friend and seeing a couple of German helmets there I began to look for them as well. If you look at all the helmets of the armies involved in the war the German helmet is for me the most visually appealing and it is fascinating the extent Nazi Germany went through to make everyone feel proud with the uniform they were wearing by issueing so many different decal designs to so many different organizations both military and civilian. This variety in helmets and decals is a dream for any collector. It is also very important that historical items are preserved , cared for and acknowledged. It saddens me when these old artefacts are often misunderstood in what should be an enlightened 21st century.

7. Why don’t you write a book

I have always found that books have limits , especially in the photo department. Also if a mistake is printed you can never correct it unless you print a second edition.

8. What is your view on fakes in the current market ?

I have never been concerned with helmets with fake decals , we know so much about which decals should fit on what shell and also the exceptions , we know when a certain decal fits on certain reissued helmets. There is a traceable logic in what we know on that subject and the USB microscope has helped us a lot what decals are concerned. Take also into account that good helmets fakers can use are rather scarce. You have to find the right shells in the right condition and you can’t get enough of such quality helmets to start up a production of fakes. So the fake decal attempts I am seeing are usually the work of individuals rather than big conspiracies.

Camouflaged helmets , medic helmets or helmets with wire additions are a whole different ball game. Here the fakers have a bigger source of helmets to use because the helmet need not follow a decal appliance logic. And the profit gain will be double or even triple when you can re-create something that fools a collector. At this moment and already for 2-3 years wire camo’s are especially doctored up using authentic helmets as base. I have known a 10 year period where a wire helmet was considered scarce. If you look around now you it’s almost common to see one for sale. The same happened with white painted medic helmet with red crosses a couple of years ago , they went from scarce to easily available for purchase. Now it seems like the supply or interest dried up and they are again more scarcer. Unfortunately there is less or almost no science involved when authenticating camo’s. One needs to be confident in ones ability to detect real patina , wear signs and tampering. My advice on these is to reach out to as many experienced collectors as possible for second opinions.

9. What’s your advice for new collectors

The best and fastest way to get up and running in this hobby is by joining the several international collector communities found online. You can get advice from experienced collectors from all over the world.

Advice # 2 is to realise that collecting is no bargain hunt. Don’t think you will be that person that can buy helmets at half the market price. Every helmet you see for sale that costs significantly less than market value will have issues that explain the price , on top of that it’s also how scammers work on second hand websites. Buy from trusted sources and pay the price.

Advice #3 Start with decalled helmets (and no decal M42’s) and learn first how helmets should look , feel and smell without camo or wire additions.

Advice #4 Choose quality above quantity. If you have the choice to buy 2 helmets or one better one , the better one is always the best choice.

10. What can a lot number list help me with ?

This is a question I have to answer regularly on the forums. There is a big misunderstanding about the power or use of a lot number.

It’s actual benefit has been to see patterns with regard to production and decal application. This allowed us to have certainty about which factory produced for which branches , for a long time it was thought that all helmet factories produced for all branches of the Wehrmacht or Polizei. We know now the NS factory did not produce Kriegsmarine helmets and SE did not not produce SS helmets. It became very clear thanks to the lot number list.

For looking up individual helmets it’s use is very limited. It can give you an approximate year of manufacture , what liner band can be expected (with what date). But none of this is very conclusive , it can not help authenticate your helmet if you have a match with the lot number list. Only a visual inspection can do that.

For M42’s and Q M40’s with a rear marked Q stamp it can be useful to check if the helmet should still have a decal. We see the decal drop clearly in the lot number list.

One of the most asked questions probably is , my helmet is lot number XXX can you tell me what branch it was ?

Answer = No. Lot numbers are not tied to specific branches or sizes even. The decal is what identifies the branch or the color in case it is Luftwaffe blue.

Next step is joining up !

So that’s it for the top 10 questions , it was fun compiling those and I’m sure that maybe I overlooked a couple. Stay safe at home everyone and if you haven’t joined up yet here are some links to communities that should help you get on track with collecting. Have a good week-end.

Frank

German Helmet Walhalla : http://www.ghw2.com

and my own small platform can be found below.

5 thoughts on “10 Questions for the German Helmet Vault

  1. Phiilip Nestor April 11, 2020 / 3:09 pm

    Hi Frank, Thanks for your comments on top ten questions. I have a couple of questions though, What books would you recommend for helmet collectors? What about some of the Kelly Hicks SS helmet books? Another question I have is in your lot number lists if I see a number ( say ET, Q, etc,etc) go from a let’s say 1234 and then jump to 1735 am I right in assuming that that doesn’t mean no helmets were produced with number in between it was just that those helmets are lost or haven’t turned up?
    Thanks again for your knowledge.
    Regards,
    Philip

    • john-b April 14, 2020 / 11:16 am

      Ludwig Bauer’s book is still one of the best IMO. There are others which give better photos, but for information LB’s book

  2. Gilbert Ryckmans April 13, 2020 / 5:16 pm

    Knap Frank. Dat je kennis zeer uitgebreid was met betrekking tot dit item wist ik al maar ik leerde ook de mens achter de verzamelaar beter kennen.
    Knap!
    Groet
    Gilbert

  3. Finn Stavnsbo April 13, 2020 / 10:15 pm

    Would you like to have lot numbers and info sent to you?

    • schwerpunkt73 April 14, 2020 / 11:26 am

      Hello Finn , I only add lot numbers from helmets posted on forums which I can see and authenticate. I do no add to the list regularly so any e-mails with photos send to me would only pile up.

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