of 7 Nov. 2007
a helmet or repairing one with proper parts.
Call it what you want. Improving the helmet but keeping
it in its original purpose is a great idea.
Some folks try to switch parts to make the helmet more
valuable. (No say it isn't so Joe!)
I have had a MAX Certified Dealer look me in the eye
and tell me he didn't know that one of his helmets was an obvious
... Doctor job ... I
do not repair or restore helmets. If you want to have it done
look elsewhere. My fingers do not work.
So forget it. I
love to kibitz though!
admit up front to being wrong and will take no responsibility
if you ruin your helmet by following any ideas I have. There
are many experts. Ask
one of them. I'm trying to share data but it is your helmet.
I do little reworking of my own helmets.
I regularly buy those helmets that need little attention.
Experts remind me of life.
After 9-11 the once unpopular world of "Homeland
Security" became a major cash cow and job source. Experts
came out of the woodwork.
One of the resumes I reviewed was for an individual who
allegedly had run one of the homeland security projects I was
responsible for. The
resume detailed this person's actions and relationship with
higher leadership ... Only problem was I had never heard of
so here are some random thoughts.
I'll organize later maybe. Right now it is like
plus random musings.
Are the front holes on all Prussian Helmets the same
distance apart? For instance if I got a junk Prussian line shell how hard is it
to affix lets say an Oldenburg plate to it?
No not all holes are the same (one size does not fit all) however,
it might match or you could punch additional holes (:-() but
in order to pull it off there would have to be no markings in
the helmet ie. Regt and Army Corps. No collector worth his salt
would buy it without checking these out first. Eventually it
will have to be sold down the line. You are better to get a
shell that has the correct markings and then look for a plate
that is correct. You should not change these helmets but repair
them to their correct form for posterity. Many OR shells had
depot marks. Sometimes multiple ones. If you are going to collect enlisted helmets you absolutely must understand these marks, and how to read them. Officer helmets seem to
have been seldom marked by unit.
holes on Prussian helmets are not the same distance due to the
different manufacturers and the different sizes of helmets being
made. Some M15 plates are smaller ie. a shorter distance between
crown and tail probably to save metal. Older wappen are taller
because the crown of the helmet was higher at the front than
the M95 and M15 helmets. All of these factors influence the
spacing of the grommets and the loops on the back. There are
two spacing theories: 1. what they did was go by size of helmet.
For instance, certain wappen would probably would fit sizes
54 to 56cm. 2. Each wappen maker had their own distance. I
side with theory #2 however, this is a theory that might well
be wrong. Do not
think that any plate will fit any helmet.
One size does not fit all.
Julius Jensen apparently
made helmets for both XIV and XV Corps so you could find Baden
and Prussians with the same distanced grommets.
I actually saw a
collector buy a scrap Uhlan helmet and a scrap M15 eagle and they
matched first time! A helmet was
restored at a fraction of the price. I
would never have that kind of luck.
What is up with double holes? Are they all bad and mean a "parts
Perhaps THE question.
Yes Dorothy there were good double holes. Helmet plates
were changed especially as folks went from active to reserve
duty normally as a one-year volunteer. BUT, it also could be an indication of a recent plate
change. Quick and
easy test ... There is no quick and easy test. Officer helmet
plates changed as they changed regiments. As a helmet
could cost 30+ marks would you spend it or just get a new plate.
The odds of the posts fitting the existing holes? OR helmets
could also be asigned to different regiments over their life.
this is predominately true when new units were created for army expansion. Studying that timing is essential to understanding your helmet. Unit markings must match the wappen. It is best
accepted on reserve officer helmets where time as a OYV might
explain the holes. Poor education on the part of most collectors
make all double holes "bad."
What is up with the zinc colored gray metal fixtures on an otherwise brass officer
It alright and normal.
Apparently in mid-war they covered some parts with a
brass colored covering. So what
was brass pre war became steel with a thin gold wash. This
took several forms. For
some reason I do not understand (gilt did not adhere to zinc)
some of these brass colorings have disappeared.
Some you see "rubbing off". Others have vaporized.
Completely gone. I understand the desire to save brass
and use steel in Germany. I had a nice officers helmet that
had two links in the chin scales that were steel.
Rest brass. I
have another helmet where the spike base is zinc but spike top
is brass. The front brim on some helmets are zinc but the brads
brass. I have seen such a mix helmet go for a small fortune in
these can be more rare than a run of the mill brass model.
Go figure. Some of the later chin scales are real thin. Apparently
attempts to fire gild zinc proved to be a poor idea and is responsible
for much of the vaporization
author in the old Kaiserzeit magazine claimed that these fixtures
were all steel and that the zinc fittings were post war veterans
copies made between 1918-1933. Unfortunately the article
gave no sources or other evidence. You can tell the difference
between steel and zinc as steel is magnetic. I have no
idea if this guy is right or how to tell the differences between
post war copies and others but I doubt if he is correct at all.
What is the difference between Bavarian Officer Cavalry, Artillery and Infantry
A. That is a very
interesting question. The key difference is not in the branch the difference is in mounted troops and foot troops. mounted troops had bigger Wappen. In
order to provide unity for the manufacture of helmets after 1914 all Bavarian
officers carried rounded chin scales. Prior
to that time infantry and foot artillery units carried flat chin scales. "The
Kriegsministerium-Verordnungsblatt Nr. 17 of the 20th of February 1914
introduced convex scales for officers of foot troops. The flat scales were
permitted to be worn until the 1st of January 1916."
The Johannssen book shows an erstaz helmet with flat chin scales on page 62.
Why do some helmets have "green" stuff around the
edges of the brass parts?
BRASSO!!!!!! Yuck. Having spent my youth polishing military
brass with this concoction, I have seen the green- brass
oxidation. Brasso can work on some brass fixtures
but I would not put it on any helmet plate. Brasso is a destructive
polish. It eats
the gilding that the Germans used. Do not use brasso on any
helmet plate. Get some Haggerty's Silver Foam. I believe most
jewelers carry it or even Wal-Mart. This comes in a white plastic
jar. The stuff itself is a brown paste that you apply with a
soft tooth brush and some H2O. The whole idea behind private
purchase mercury fire gilding is that you didn't have to maintain
it. Just brush it off. Over the years many collectors
have polished the gilding with a destructive polish. If
you remove officer plates that look dull you can often find
a dazzling gilding behind the plate where it was not polished.
can be useful. If you ever end up with one of those M15 Jäger
zu Pferd or Cuirassier helmets with the steel shells, brasso
and fine steel wool works great at taking off the surface rust
that they usually have. Elbow grease is needed and time.
I got this neat officer's cockade from Hamburg. Why don't
I just pop off the Prussian Officer's cockade on this Prussian
Line Officer's helmet and I can make it a Hansiatic helmet?
I can make a lot of $$ on paper and can sell it as a 162nd
Yes you can. Lots of repro officer cockades running around.
You can buy a fake cockade, put it on a helmet designed
for another regiment, sell it to your friends and make a couple
dollars. While you are at it you can buy some Enron stock and
sell it to folks. A couple years ago I saw a friend of mine
buy such a helmet. Sad.
I will never buy from that seller. Soon you won't have
to worry about selling to your friends. You won't have many.
The real sad thing is when the buyer finds out he has a phony.
I got took once on a helmet and it burned the lesson into me.
I bought it on Manions. No doubt I will get fooled again.
The really sad thing is that in September October 03 I became
aware of two such sales. The officer one did not even
have the prized cockade mounted properly, The OR one might have
been good but had no depot marks for the regiment. In
cases of cockade only different helmets I would be seriously
cautious especially as the cockades are tough to determine authenticity.
What is a Fähnrich and why do I care?
So many of the mistakes with Pickelhauben stem from a misunderstanding
of the rank system. Conventional wisdom often "lumps"
Imperial German soldiers into categories. Officer, Non-commissioned
officer, Mannschaft ... and if it didn't fit One Year Volunteer
(OYV). Actually many were right in the OYV call but there are
other ranks .... Not all have equivalents in the US Army ....
(say it ain't so Joe) So the discovery of a OYV helmet might
instead belong to a different rank. Let's take a look
at Fähnrich as that rank caused a huge controversy in a helmet
I recently acquired. There is no US equivalent to any type of
Fähnrich. However, the helmets are there. There are a LOT
of different ranks . Fähnrich is like on officer aspirant
or cadet. A wanna be.
is a direct quote from D.S.V. Fosten's book pg 15. "Portapeefahnrich":
Ranked senior to the longest serving Sergeant. After passing
prescribed examination the Fähnrich became a degenfähnrich
and then ranked senior to the wachtmeister. Initially
the Fähnrich wore the "unterofficer" distinctions
with the officer's sword knot on the saber. As a degenfähnrich
he wore the officer's sword and mutze and officers cockades
on the helmet."
This gets real confusing
and I recommend you to the articles tab. There is a long article
there looking at OYVs, cadets, and Fähnrich. So if
you have a mix it could be a load of things. While many
of these are super rare they do not have the demand of an officer.
Q. What should I look for if I'm buying a
Quality and condition. Provenance. Buy fewer
good than many poor or questionable items. No I haven't followed this advice all
the time. For goodness sake look at the dragoon OYV in my collection.
I wish I had started 30 years ago and had perfect items. Today I will
probably go for condition and quality.
Q. I'm new and am awed by some of
the knowledgeable old collectors. How should I approach the learning?
Senior collectors to a person love to share
knowledge and info. Ask. Just ask questions and you will
get answers from even the most experienced. Now the caution
is all of us are wrong from time to time but some will not admit
it. No person can rule ex-cathedra on Pickelhaubes but some
try. Some talk down to others and some laugh at new guys.
Hey we were all new once. Learn to think critically and
don't take anyone's word as gospel. Well maybe Trawnik,
but he is so nice that he doesn't let his ego get in the way.
Don't worry about what others say or think -- you make up your
mind. I've gotten lots of emails saying this guy or that
is no good or something else -- who has the inclination to gossip?
Just ask questions and question each thing yourself. This
Q. What is the worst thing you
think you have done and have had done to you in collecting?
I failed to have purchased
a helmet that I thought was too expensive. I offered too little
and it was worth far more. Penny wise pound foolish so to speak.
The worse thing that ever happened to me? I got took big
time in an early helmet buy. I didn't know better at the time.
Thank goodness it was only $1500.
What is a Zahlmeister?
One of a type of Beamte
most folks think pay officer or finance officer right away.
Actually these guys had a sort of S4 logistics function as well
as pay. I became involved in this one when a friend of
mine scored a great Zahlmeister helmet off eBay while I was
sleeping (really). He paid almost nothing. Zahlmeister were
military officials known as Beamter as opposed to active soldiers.
After 12 years of service. NCOs could apply for training as
a Zahlmeister. After going through a probationary period as
"Unterzahlmeister" they would be appointed as Zahlmeister.
This was an appointment as an official and not as a soldier,
comparable in rank to a "Leutnant". They had their
own style of Pickelhaube and most books ignore Beamte helmets.
However, you see a lot of these type helmets offered for sale
and seldom do they have accurate descriptions. They were ranked
the comparable military ranks , their
designation as Beamte being (in descending order) Stabs-/ Ober-/
Zahlmeister. Equivalent rank of captain would be as far as they
could get, as the next senior career group for Beamter, the
Höherer Dienst, started with the equivalent rank of major,
but required a university degree.
reserve forces easy to understand?
The reason all texts
ignore this problem is because it is too hard. I do not know if anyone
understands it. I would have thought that IR92 would sprout a reserve infantry
regiment RIR92, and a Landwehr Regiment LIR92. Wrong! I think this might be the
case in about a third of the regiments. There were reserve regiments associated
with an active regiment of a different number. For instance a LIR78 photo shows
them wearing the running horse plate of IR92. This seems to have happened as the
Army Corps and the local Bezirkskomando ran the Landwehr and Landsturm units. I know of no list that shows
which regiments in the reserve wore what helmet plates when. You can quickly see
why the relative scarcity of reserve and Landwehr helmets becomes impossible to
determine. You can also see why all references show the logical and orderly
active army in 1914. The Landwehr and reserve were not standing units in peacetime. After mobilization the entire deal went out the door. You are now
dealing with these designations as a subset:
How do you spot a fake cockade?
one. Some are easy, sloppy paint jobs poor construction
or base metal. The lightning rod is the red in the Reiches cockarde.
The real thing is more of an orange red and others are often
called repro red. With dirt, sun fading, and wear it is
very hard to tell. Experienced collectors often make mistakes.
Handling is far superior to photos but it is not a 100% pick.
You really have to check your gut on this one. Many collectors
look for chips and cracking in the paint. Old can be chipped.
Not all cockades do this and I am told you can get the same
chipped cracked paint effect by baking them at low heat.
What is a garniture mark?
Clothing depots marked issue
items for condition from 1-5. Best condition was a 1. This was supposedly
applied to all helmets, clothing and equipment. As the item was turned in for
reissue or repair it was re-graded and if needed a new mark applied increasing
the number of roman numeral hash marks. If you see hash marks in the depot mark
area of a helmet it is probably a garniture mark. This was far from
universally applied. It was also discontinued at some point.
Usually the regiment had to keep three sets of each article on stock. First set (erste Garnitur) got issued only for mobilization and for parade purposes and was recollected again after parade. Second set (zweite Garnitur) was the "better" service uniform and third set (dritte Garnitur) was the drill and exercise set. For spiked helmets there were only two sets usually. When soldiers were sent home after service the regiments had to discharge them with a complete uniform (no helmet but cap - Krätzchen) - which was certainly not erste Garnitur.
Usually the company commanders took pride in keeping a fourth set and a fifth set of uniforms in service. To save budget the soldiers had to spend a huge deal of their time with cleaning and mending clothes (Putz- und Flickstunde). You certainly may imagine how shabby a soldier wearing a fifth set (fünfte Garnitur) uniform looked. Getting worn out, dented, torn and mended, the uniform pieces moved down the line by first having a "I" stamped into it, after a couple of years that received a "II", later a "III" - fourth and fifth set pieces were not marked since they were unofficial. Soldiers were only allowed to walk out of the barracks in "zweiter Garnitur" - the guards had to check this.
Do all screw in spikes and trichters have matching threads?
No not at
all. In fact, matching the top to bottom threads can be almost
an accident. You cannot take a spike from helmet one and just
screw it into helmet #2. It might fit but it might not.
I think there are at least 3 different types of threads and
then there is diameter of posts that differ. This was
true then. The DOV catalog states in 1913 that if you didn't
buy the helmet from them and you want to add a trichter, you
must give them the spike base to match the threads.
What are serrated cockades?
Spiky points around the
edges are serrated. No points but smooth round is non-serrated. Examples below.
Can you tell an NCO helmet from the pearlring?
No. Everyone enlisted had
them until 1895 (some exceptions) and then they were discontinued. Older helmets
with pearl rings were still used but it had nothing to do with rank. It was
decorative like the spike itself. Officer spike bases had "pearl and
dart" ring around the spike base. Each type pictured plus a unit with old
pearl ring helmets in 1914.
Repro wappen often
have little detail on the back--explain.
Wappen were stamped by banging
two plates together. The front plate had the same amount of detail as
the back. More modern plates are cast leaving a gritty side, air holes
or lack of detail. The back of the wappen holds many keys. Always
Always Always look.