Often inexperience is the cause for making untrue statements. I will list here some untruths that I have spotted online that often re-appear. None of the points I list below are valid points to dismiss a helmet out of hand.
No Cause For Panic When …
1) Your helmet has crooked decals. Many original examples have been observed with badly placed decals.
Photo courtesy of RoyA
2) The decal is not placed 3 mm under the vent hole. While official decal placement directions exist it is clear from the many helmets that survived the war that scant attention was paid to them.
3) Your helmet rivets paint seem different than the paint on the shell. I observed this mostly on M35 Kriegsmarine and M35/M40 Luftwaffe helmets , old stock and different subcontractors can be the cause of this.
Quist M40 luftwaffe – smooth painted rivet and textured paint on the shell.
4) The leather of the liner has a strange shape. Shrinking of the leather on aluminium liners can cause them to have a more squared look.
5) Your helmet has loose rivets. Used combat helmets have loose rivets , usually one , sometimes two. Three would be a cause for further inspection. Note : One loose rivet can cause the other ones to seem as if they are loose.
6) One of the rivets is missing a washer. Rivets were replaced and often in the field , although not commonly seen it’s possible one (or all) of the rivets are missing a washer.
7) Production flaws. Helmets are observed leaving the factory flawed , later war helmets will be more prone to that.
8) Helmets showing massive wear like oxidation , missing paint , and torn leather have more history than those in much better condition. I read this statement often when new collectors are looking for their first helmet often due to inexperience they trust in wear. The more something looks beat up the more it must have been in true gritty combat. Wrong of course. Most worn helmets we see today have had rough after war lives. In cold and damp basements , in hot dry attics or sheds. Many times also used as toys. A helmet dug out of the ground unless you know exactly where (which in most cases you don’t) is no more a real war dog or no less than a good helmet that was immediately put into a veteran’s duffel bag on the battlefield. Many helmets German soldiers wore survived the war in worn to excellent condition. Probably a good many of those were picked up by GI’s from surrender piles and sent home. In Europe we see more helmets being left behind in farms or kept by families when the Germans retreated in 1944 and dumped what they could not carry. So never say a beat up or ground dug helmet has more history than one in good condition because it’s simply untrue.
Urban Legend Alert : Scratching decals with your fingernail
This practice is often suggested by inexperienced collectors and I know I heard this way back in the nineties even. Scratch a decal with you fingernail to see if it is real. Please never try this as you can damage a nice original decal as easily as you can damage a fake. This proves nothing.