In 2004 a book called SS steel (by Kelly Hicks) was published where this decal received its official moniker. The ‘champagne runes decal’ was called like this because the pulver in this decal often has a champagne colored hue.
The book linked the champagne runes decals to helmets from the NS and SE/hkp factories.
Helmets with these decals where regularly posted on forums after 2004 and their authentication rested purely on the published findings in the SS steel book.
Helmet lot numbers project
From 2006 onward I started logging helmets in a lot number database and it revealed some pretty interesting information after a couple of years. Patterns.
Or in the case of the helmets with CR runes , the absence of patterns.
Like I said earlier It took a couple of years before the data spelled it out for us and between 2004 and 2010/2011 even I was prone to believe in these decals if not just for the reason that they were in SS steel.
Eventually based on the lot number list I made these observations together with many collector friends.
- CR runes were not just used on NS and SE , they also popped up on CKL, EF and transitional helmets.
- 99% of the helmets carrying this decal were M42’s
- Looking at the lot numbers versus the decal drop date (late 1943) almost all M42’s with the CR runes were after the decal drop date.
- SE and NS never produced helmets for the SS (just the CR runes helmets were logged for these makers).
- No 2 CR helmets with similar lot numbers were recorded.
- Graphical inconsistencies that could not be explained as a printing error.
- No helmets with actual provenance have been recorded
Below M42 CKL helmet was approved in 2006 on the Wehrmacht awards forum.
An HKP M42 approved in 2008 on the German Helmet Walhalla forum.
Champagne rune decal becomes ‘controversial’
With the statistical evidence from the lot number list myself and many other collectors started to coin this decal as ‘controversial’. It’s hard to put an exact date on it but it must have been around 2011. The overall thumbs up these helmets received on forums changed to hefty discussions with collectors owning helmets with Champagne runes.
NS M42 Lot number D421 with CR runes sold by Kelly Hicks in 2008 for 7500$.
The Champagne rune crash of 2015
My friend Doug who was an avid SS helmet collector (today he no longer collects helmets) dived in deep to discover the truth on these decals. Like me he was also using the USB microscope to study decals. He posted his findings in detail on several forums. Unfortunately in the aftermath of outing this fraud he was fed up with the negative reactions he got from certain people and left the hobby altogether taking with him the articles he published on the forums.
This excerpt written by Doug is still up on the Warrelics forum.
Addendum to this decal post, Sept 21. 2015
This decal type family has been controversial for a number of years now. It is published yet some do not believe it to be real, many collectors who I deeply respect and have conversed with at length with on the subject. I believed them to be real because that is what it said in the reference books and my opinion was formed by the experience of others. However my opinion changed over the years as my experience and knowledge grew. Doing some further research I printed some thoughts in a thread by Shaun Winkler Error – German Helmet Walhalla (post 21) back in June of 2013 where I stated M42 ckl and M40 any shell type I had concerns but no conclusive proof. The fact that all M42 decals of this type were near mint, the runes tend to “float” in the shield, and there being 7 variants, was of great concern however.
Well this month I believe I found the proof and confirmation that I need for my comfort zone, that not just the M42 ckl and M40 shells, but all champagne decals which I believe now are in fact bad and are template painted sprayed fakes. I am sure this will raise the ire and objection of some who believe otherwise, especially as these have been extensively published. However a book is merely a snapshot in time, most are a decade old or older, and in the latest reference book by Ken N these NS decals are conspicuously absent. Advancements in digital magnification, studious databasing, internet knowledge sharing and detailed research means knowledge moves forward and what we thought to be true can change, as it has for me.
Of the core SS decals, the Q, Pocher, EF and ET there is no controversy and never has been. There is plenty of evidence to know what is real and what is not including decal to shell relationships, correct graphic styles, print methodology as well as construction. The NS (Champagne) rune has never had this sort of luxury, nobody knows where they were made, who made them, there have never been any loose ones to study, and they are found on all shell manufacturers and on reissues without rhyme nor reason. However they are prevalent on high lot number no decal M42’s and on NS M35 helmets in police lot number ranges with no discernible pattern. They have many “variants” and inconsistencies in the rune positions on same decals and they have a very sharp print and lack a cellulose base.
I am sure the subject matter will continue to be controversial but I felt the need to make an addendum to this thread I created as it is based on what I knew then and what I know and believe today. I do want to thank Ade for his assistance and cooperation in doing so, as sharing information is critical to keeping the hobby safe and growing.
Below 2 helmet were sold by Oakleaf militaria in 2015.
Spray paint fake
In the 11 years from being published in SS steel to 2015 not a single collector with a loupe had any idea that the Champagne rune decal was paint and not a printed decal.
In 2009 a CR rune was even tested with a Ray gun (XRF) by the money grabbing “XRF authentication corporation” that was founded by a US collector and Kelly Hicks. The ray gun did not see it as paint , in fact the ray gun could not even spot other ‘easy’ fake decals.
Funny enough there was one person in 2012 who pointed out that a Champagne decal on an M35 was spray painted and nobody believed him because the decal was a correct CR rune on an NS shell as per SS steel.
Aftermath and lessons learned
We have to recognize that the community was misled , everybody. We put our eggs in one basket thinking they were safe and were taken for a ride. Looking back at old topics there is no need to finger point at who said what. It’s the way forward that is important.
That way forward is looking with critical eyes to what’s being put in front of us. We have to become more critical , especially when books are being published we have to put them to the test. Is it true what’s written here , how can we confirm it , how can we know for sure what’s written here is the absolute truth ?
We just started 2018 and topics surrounding the CR runes are still hot.
To this day it is not publicly known who started the Champagne rune fraud and when although there are sources that claim it already started back in the seventies.
Fact is that things are tied together like they always are. It’s not a coincidence the decals were officially published. Big names are involved in this scam and a third party painted the decals for them while they searched for and provided the helmets. The names are known and we browse their sites on daily basis. Let’s try to be less gullible in 2018 and give frauds a taste of their own medicine.
2 more M42 Champagne rune fakes with very similar damage.
A COA of a fake Champagne rune M42