The collecting bug bit me in 1997 , a year after my father died from cancer. I had always been interested in military history but I never collected military artefacts. My father was the collector and his collection spread about several rooms of the house including the attic. His main focus was restoring wireless transmitters used during World War 2 and he also worked passionately on his Willy’s Jeep and his Dodge.
In 1997 I looked through my father’s inventory and decided on what I would keep and what I would sell. I kept some German bayonets and some dress daggers , no helmets.
A lot of people whom had known my father contacted me to buy things and I ended up visiting a collector that was into German helmets . That one visit where I could touch and view many examples of German helmets was responsible for the journey that eventually led me to create this website.
My dad’s Dodge , my dad digging in the Ardennes in the early seventies , dug helmet and gasmask photographed on the scene.
Learning curve 1997 and 2004 ?
All new collectors have a learning curve and for me it was no different. I had to rely solely on the 1 person I knew , black and white books , a website with lousy photos and … dealers. These first 7 years my collection did not grow fast. I had started with buying two fake helmets and ended up with about 10 low quality but authenthic German helmets by 2004. And I was still pretty much a rookie.
The Internet : 2004 – 2006
In 2004 I discovered the Wehrmacht awards forum and I tapped into a fountain of information. I spent many hours per day online. Reading posts , testing myself and buying helmets online from across the ocean for the first time.
The biggest bonus was that I got acquainted with passionate collectors from all over the world that were kind enough to help a passionate rookie collector.
After two years of investing my time and money I was no longer a rookie and my collection had grown considerably faster than the first 7 years.
Forum Administrator : German Helmet Walhalla 2006 – 2015
The internet communities were pretty fragmented in 2006. There were different cliques of collectors that did not see eye to eye and each gravitated to their own forums.
In September 2006 this changed , a Swedish collector had built a new forum with his sons and he asked me to become Administrator of the forum. I did not hesitate and started developing the forum from scratch. I had spent so many hours on so many forums that I had a very good vision on how I wanted the forum to be managed and moderated. Collectors that were separated by two other forums found common ground in German Helmet Walhalla.
The goal of the forum was that it would be the best source for German helmet collectors online. That it would not be sponsored by dealers. (This was a key element) and that the forum only existed for people willing to participate. We also imposed very strict photo quality requirements unseen in any forum.
In the same period I also started to log helmets in a Lot number database which today consists of over 2000 helmets , logged by maker , lot number and unique appearance.
And on top of that I also started to work with a USB microscope , test its capabilities in keeping one step ahead of new fake decals appearing on the market.
German Helmet Walhalla became the most active helmet forum (posts and topics per day) from 2008 onwards.
Something’s gotta give : The present 2016 – …
After more than 8 years running German Helmet Walhalla I felt like I was going through the motions. It had become time to let it all go and focus more on the real world instead of the virtual one.
But that said , a year and a half later and here I am presenting my next online project to you. The German Helmet Vault.
So welcome and I hope you find the information here useful.