Dedicated to the victims of the infamous fake Big foot decal.
How this decal can still feature on so many helmets on dealer websites is unbelievable. We know already for 20 years that a good Big foot decal is only found on Quist helmets. Still dealers present us with a plethora of shells with this cheap fake plastic knock off.
Type in German helmet in the search box and some hideous fakes will appear from the likes of Antiques storehouse.
A typical and common abuse of such platforms by people that lack knowledge on the subject or that have downright criminal intentions to rip someone off.
Yes the below shell is sold as an authentic DD SS for 1100 GBP , they are serious.
The next one a Heer with that typical cheap fake Big foot decal and a horrible fake liner. The shell is SE.
They sure like their SE’s with fake Big foot decal.
This website provides a similar service or disservice depending on the way you look at it like the Gunstar website that started this blog article. Scam or clueless seller of that website seems to be Breedon antiques.
Here he is selling some Chinese fake commercial M18 looking contraption for 995 GBP.
The next one is kind of funny taking his sales pitch into account :
Good condition and liner, complete nothing missing, some slight rust but would clean off and make good, large sized, rare helmet, offering free worldwide delivery reference OSS
I’m sure a kid in Asia painted this one thinking that German paratroopers were present when Jesus was born which may explain the comet symbol.
Yours for 1250 GBP.
Any seller that knows all about German helmets must have the iconic Afrika Korps palmtree helmet for sale ? And of course it’s the rare DD M40 kind that don’t exist. He is kind with the price on this one though he only ask 795 GBP.
I found this NS M42 for sale as a Kriegsmarine and I am sure you recognize our friend the fake Big foot decal.
PARADE MILITARY ANTIQUES
A no decal with a decal. CKL lot number 4462. The wire of course is someone’s hobby project and a rubbed off fake decal.
Another UK based dealer with a serious crappy helmet inventory and while his flavour texts don’t tell you what he’s selling is fake his prices seem to say ‘hey I know it is crap that is why I price a Normandy SS camo for 30% the value of what an original would cost’. (which is still 95% too much)
n M35 single decal Waffen SS helmet in Normandy camo. Large size helmet shell has screw-in vents and is stamped with serial number 6033 on inner skirt. Camouflage paint has a rough cork-grit texture. A large darker patch on the crown suggests the helmet has been standing in water at some time in its life. SS decal has a margin of original paint around it which is brown in colour. Decal is 50 per cent present with some flaking but the runes are clear. Eisenhuttenwerke maker and size stamp ET66. Tan hide liner, and black chinstrap. This helmet can laid aside and paid for in interest-free instalments.
Let’s close with this fake TENO M42 , for sale for 1295 GBP.
NO EFFORT ONLY SALES
If you just look at the poor quality of the fakes I posted here it seems that most of these dealers with their fancy names can’t seem to be bothered to do any kind of research. They just throw it online and hope to sell at a high price. It does not seem to matter to them if their descriptions are completely wrong. Easy money of course unless they themselves bought the fake helmets believing them to be original. But dealers have large networks and should know what they are selling and if you do the job do it right.
Happy hunting everybody , the real stuff is out there !
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.
In this edition I like to start with fake chinstraps added to good helmets. The easier Czech humpback fakes are occasionally sold together with good helmets. A good chinstrap adds good value to a helmet but a fake one will cost you. Keep your eyes open before clicking ‘add to basket’.
The helmet comes complete with a blackened leather chinstrap with a natural aluminum pronged buckle and retaining studs. Chinstrap has Koln makers mark with a 1941 date. Nice untouched helmet is a good large size.
The chinstrap looks great remaining completely intact and is maker marked “Luttringhausen & Co. Klon 1940”. The steel buckle works well.
BLACK CROSS MILITARIA
This SS helmet for sale for 3655 $ is orginally a no decal M42 that has the fake round bottom decal added.
Some dealers keep on finding their way back on this page. Weitze , the militaria version of Alibaba.com really needs to educate his team on how a real German helmet looks like or at least on how a real decals should look like. Here’s an authentic WW2 Czech helmet you don’t want to buy because some idiot stuck a fake decal on it.
This M34 which is also a nice original shell has been restored with a fake Heer decal , the tricolor could be good.
MILITARY ANTIQUES STOCKHOLM
This fake TENO helmet is in fact a denazified authentic WW2 feuerschutz helmet. These were produced in very large quantities and many fall prey to unscrupulous persons that add fake decals or painted insignias for monetary gain. You can still see the scraping marks of where the original decals were removed.
I never ever heard of this website before and maybe for the best , the website itself seems to have been coded right after the internet was invented. Navigating through the website is stressful and finding some helmets to review took me some time. Also the website is UNSAFE , it has no safety certificate. After reviewing the helmet inventory I must give this site an UNSAFE to buy from certificate on top.
This single decal transitional is for sale for 1850$ , the decal is a fake and so is the chinstrap.
The below ET M42 Waffen SS sports the Round bottom fake SS runes. Unfortunately already SOLD.
Here’s what the site owner wrote.
DESCRIPTION: Here is the 100-percent real thing; a fine Mod-1942 Waffen-SS helmet with the correct number and letter stamps. It’s complete with regulation chinstrap and pigskin liner. The decal is correct and you can be absolutely sure of authenticity. It was checked out by the experts at the S.O.S Show and no one, but no one, doubted anything about it at, and they were all impressed with it. You know how hard they are to come by and this is the best we have seen in many a year. Here is the one you can feel 100-percent comfortable with. No one can reasonably fault it and we will supply a letter of authentication with it. This is almost the ultimate and it is the ultimate for the collector who wants the true Waffen-SS combat helmet instead of the double decal or dress type. We are thrilled to find it and you will be thrilled to own it.
Let’s put Germania Militaria to rest with this horrible DRK helmet , fake decal and the ever present fake labels in such helmets.
As usual looking forward to your comments , also if you haven’t joined yet don’t forget to register at https://germanhelmetvault.com/forum/ my new platform for German WW2 helmets collectors. If you have questions about collecting helmets or a single helmet you can post it there or if you just want to share helmets from your collection.
Also if you haven’t joined yet don’t forget to register at https://germanhelmetvault.com/forum/ my new platform for German WW2 helmet collectors. The place to ask questions about your helmet or share photos of the helmets in your collection with other collectors.
Since the official launch on the 18th of December we have had many collectors from all over the world joining up.
Hello everyone , I am happy to announce that I finally made the decision to add a new feature to my website. It’s one that required some extra investment both in time and money but those that know me know that I always get excited about new projects. The goal of this project is to create interaction between my website and those that visit my website. Since I started the German Helmet Vault I have noticed that there are actually quite a lot of people not part of an online community and I get a lot of e-mails asking for advice. In order to fill that gap I decided to launch a small platform to which you can register and where you can chat about helmets , ask questions or show helmets from your collection. And no , it’s not just another forum. You will notice it’s much simpler and to the point , no bells and whistles.
I invited Andrea aka Sysyphus to join as moderator. For those whom do not know Andrea he is a very passionate German WW2 helmet collector from Italy. He has an intelligent and scientific approach to collecting and is very well know to those that visit the international forums.
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.
Some bigger names feature in this episode of Tracking the fakes. It’s incomprehensible to me why some helmets get posted for sale while there are viable concerns with originality or some which are at least worth a serious discussion.
A helmet that does not follow factory logic must have some kind of provenance if you want to sell it as 100% certified real. Previous ownership is not provenance , it can be part of it but it is not the start of it. The same with extremely rare helmets no-one so far has done any meaningful research on and which exist more as copy than authentic. You just don’t sell helmets you think are real , you sell helmets that are real.
Enjoy this article and thank you in advance for your comments.
Gottlieb Militaria auctions
This a typical dealer that I have seen selling fakes between the good stuff for decades.
A couple of years ago he also started an auction website for militaria , it has come up with selling fakes quite often (and I just look at helmets).
Like most dealers he wrote a book. It is every dealers dream to be considered an authority on a subject. Gottlieb wrote about SS honor rings. Of course he is no authority on honor rings but now some people think he is. You can read more on the subject if you click (and register) here.
Below some fakes that have been caught , just this year only. The DD Heer was auctioned of just recently.
This website came to my attention a few months back when someone put one of their helmets up for discussion on a forum. The lower than normal price for that helmet (and other items on the website) are a huge red flag. Other than that I did not think much of it but recently this website popped back up on my radar because of Nick the administrator of the Lowlands militaria forum. He had contact with the owner of the website on some of his items and received very odd answers to his questions.
It reads like a ‘how to spot a fraud’ pamphlet
You could not get more detailed photos of any of the items on the website , the reason being that the items were stowed away in boxes. A pretty stupid business model I would call that.
You can not go there and look at the items (or pick them up)
The website states as location Luxemburg but the items are not in Luxemburg or so the owner claims
Prices are suspiciously low
On the Wehrmacht awards forum you can read a topic of a victim of this fraudster. You can read it here if you are a paying member.
Watch out for this transtional helmet with fake Kriegsmarine decal. Priced at 2500 GBP.
German Helmets Inc
A popular site from a dealer that wrote a pretty good book on German helmets.
But this helmet ?
This is a late rear marked Q66 single decal army helmet with a three-color spray camouflage pattern applied. The helmet shell took some sort of hit at the top from which a significant crack developed. I have to say that this helmet is by no means a “one-looker”; given the condition of the paint. I took some time with this and scrutinized it fairly well. I believe it is a good one. Although I can just hear the forum guys calling me names over this one. $1250.00
German helmets Inc
It’s by no means a one looker original , I agree. But it is a one looker fake.
Starting with the brand new paint , the crack that has zero paint loss along the edge and yes a late war Q shell , rear stamped Q mark with a lot number past the decal application point. This helmet is not even worth a discussion let alone 1200 USD.
This site has some strange offerings , first off this Wolfsangel SS runes M42.
It’s being sold as an I think it is original. Quite funny that. Here’s what the dealer says.
I have never owned one, but in hand this helmet has every appearance of pre-1945 manufacture and wear. (Additionally worth mentioning, NS is the sole known maker for another very unusual helmet type, the ‘Sauerland’ organization’s helmet.) The liner shows a lot of use but is supple. There are no markings discernable. Sale includes my COA. 5950 USD
SS steel website
If it sells for 6K I am sure we will see many more “I think it is original” helmets popping up on dealer websites.
Truth be told if this can be proven as a genuine Wolfangel helmet it’s worth far more than 6K. But that’s just the problem. So far no-one has done an indepth study into these decals and as often more fakes than originals are around to study. Still I believe at least this decal should exhibit the same traits as any other Third Reich printed decal.
It is just typical of how money nuts the militaria world is that a helmet can be sold without even knowing if the decal is real. The fact that the Sauerland decal has been observed only on NS shells has zero bearing on this helmet.
Do your research thoroughly then sell it.
Here’s another oddball from the same website. EF M42.
EF used 2 SS factory decals. The typical EF design runic shield and more uncommon the ET design runic shield.
The decal on this helmet is neither and the seller also acknowledges it. But like with the first helmet some circumstantial provenance is woven around the helmet to explain the not text book decal. It’s a Ukranian so he painted a runic shield on his helmet. Yes could be or someone painted it to increase the value perhaps ? Champagne rune scandal rings a bell ? I say painted because to me it does not look like a waterslide decal.
Here’s the seller’s text.
This rare helmet was a walk-in to a coin shop in Winnipeg Manitoba, purchased by an advanced Canadian collector friend of mine who is very widely known in the community. He sold it to another Canadian friend, who has had it for the 20 years since then. The helmet is an EF66 M42, issued commensurate with the time frame of the significant expansion of SS Volunteer forces from the occupied countries (unfortunately only two digits of the heat lot number can be discerned because of the thick paint of the inscription). With a Sryllic inscription and the fact that there are many Ukranians in Winnipeg, made it a compelling piece to collect. The shell is a size 66 with a size 58 marked liner in very good condition. The original strap is present and in very good condition. The SS runic shield is a variant, which appears manufactured, and bears a strong resemblance to the post-1940 ET pattern shield. Closeups of the design are provided. The name painted in the skirt appears to say “F.J. Nikolai.” Sale includes my 100% lifetime guarantee of authenticity
SS steel website
Military Collectibles Inc
I never quite understand what’s up with websites that can’t even post good photographs of what they are offering. Nor can I understand how they keep in business.
This M42 , even with these crappy photos has a clear fake decal. A badly upgraded M42 no decal like there are many around.
Here’s a similar helmet this time not with a fake decal but with an original Gustav Peiniger post war applied.