Identifying a Fake
Due to an increasing fascination with
collecting World War II German helmets it is not surprising that
unscrupulous sellers will often attempt to "fake" the look of an
original helmet in order to defraud inexperienced collectors and
hobbyists. Often times these fakes are easy to identify because
they lack the uniformity, construction, and authentic materials of
the originals. However, experienced "fakers" are often capable
of aging a newly refurbished helmet in order to make it appear as
though it were original. This only complicates the buyer's
ability to identify the helmet as a fake. By and large the
majority of fake helmets on the market today are designed to
appear like one of the rarer types. These are made to
purposely fool the buyer and to make large sums of money for the
seller. The most frequently reproduced of all German helmets
are those of the Waffen-SS, although almost any type of German
helmet worn during World War II can be found in a fake to include
even the most common of originals.
In any given market, fakers tend to
produce replicas that feed the demand of collector interest and
helmet values. Fake helmets tend to be produced in small numbers
(or in waves) and slowly released to the collecting market through
a variety of military collector shows and independent dealers.
Online web auctions are frequently targeted as main stream release
points for fake helmets. Once a fake helmet has been
purchased it is eventually discovered, but this may take a very
long time. The fact is most fake helmets continue to be passed
along several times to new buyers as each of the previous owners
attempts to recover some or all of their money on the bad
purchase. Because helmets that have decals on them are
becoming more desirable, many helmets sold as authentic are in
fact original helmets with reproduction decals applied. This is
the most common type of fakery and perhaps the quickest and least
expensive for someone to do.
The following list of
questions serve as a helpful guide for beginning collectors who
are attempting to identify the authenticy of a given helmet. Of
course nothing is more helpful than repeated experience in
handling and examining genuine helmets. In the event that a
person does not have access to the real thing, a collector should
ask themselves the following questions before making a helmet
paint smell like it was recently applied?
helmets give off an odor that is easy to detect. As paint
ages, this odor fades away. Most fakers quickly introduce
their newly painted helmets into the marketplace in an effort
to make a quick buck. Original helmets have no paint odor.
paint the proper color and texture of the originals?
||The paint color of
a helmet is often the first thing that distinguishes an
original from a fake. Fake helmets almost always display
smooth finishes in color shades that are either too green,
battleship gray, bright blue, or black. Original wartime
paint is no longer available and modern paint stores cannot
manufacture paint that is exactly like the real thing. In
addition, original M1940 and M1942 helmets almost always
possess a textured external surface to dull reflective
properties of the paint. This textured finish is difficult to
replicate, and most fakers will never go to the lengths
necessary to attempt reproducing an original paint finish.
decals the correct type, size, and color of the originals?
Are they in the right position?
||Many fake helmets
display decals that lack the true color and quality of the
originals. Most fake decals are "peel-and-stick" types or
"water-slides" that are easy to remove. More expensive fakes
will use higher quality reproduction decals that have similar
properties compared to the originals. Fakers will often
unknowingly apply the decals in the wrong position or in
combinations that never existed.
liner band authentic and the correct type for the model of
helmets lack authentic metal liner bands. While good
reproductions are now available, all lack the proper
construction of the originals. Remember that M935 double
decal helmets should generally have a first pattern aluminum
liner band that is maker marked, dated, and size stamped. The
M1940 and M1942 helmets almost ALWAYS have a second model,
zinc plated steel liner band that is also maker marked, dated,
and size stamped. Some variations to this "rule of thumb" do
exist to know your helmet history well. Modern liner
bands generally rust as they are not zinc galvanized.
Reproduction aluminum liner bands are difficult and expensive
to produce because thin sheet aluminum is not easily
obtainable and the construction for this type of liner band is
rather complex. Even so, there do exist good quality
reproductions of these liner bands manufactured in Eastern
leather liner an eight finger liner? Does it have sweat holes
in the forehead area?
||Other than liners
sized 60 or 61 cm, all original combat style leather liners
generally had eight fingers with five sweat holes in each. In
some cases liners also had nine fingers, but mainly on the
larger size examples. Original liners were made of
sheep, goat, and pigskin (not cow hide). Original leather
liners in combat helmets never had sweat holes in the forehead
like the former West German Border Guard helmet liners. In
addition, original leather liners were made of tan (cream
colored) leather that often turned brown with age.
Original liners were not dyed red-brown or dark brown like
those found in postwar Norwegian Home Guard helmets.
three split rivets holding the liner band to the helmet brass
will have zinc or steel split rivets. Solid brass rivets
with no exterior coating of zinc or steel are typically
associated with postwar Norwegian re-works. Inexpensive and
cheap looking brass rivets are typically cut down binding
clips from office supply stores. Be careful however, as the
early original rivets manufactured by the Germans in the
mid-1930's were often brass with a zinc or nickel type finish.
chinstrap authentic and original to the helmet or added at a
High-end reproduction chinstraps are now selling as original
in most helmet collecting circles. This much needed element
is often missing or damaged on original helmets. To command
higher prices for their helmets many sellers add a high end
reproduction chinstrap to fool the buyer. If the leather of
your chinstrap smells new there is reason for suspicion.
Leather that is 60 years old tends not to have a "new leather"
smell. Many reproduction chinstraps are now dipped in
pre-aging chemical solutions. As a result they too will
smell as though a heavy concentration of chemical agent has
been applied to the leather and the buckle.
Each section of German-Helmets.com
is divided into separate Information Tracks that outline important
details, facts, and historical notes pertaining to steel helmets used by
the German Armed Forces during World War II.
Information Tracks are organized
by subject matter and their content is directly related to the service arm
or organization to which each topic is related. Topic areas that
bridge one subject matter to another are cross linked within each Information Track.
This Information Track provides collector facts pertaining to
modern helmet fakes and reproductions. Individual links related to this subject are