- The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

    Questions & Answers:  Buying Tips

Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding buying tips are described in this section.  Additional topics can be explored by linking to one of the subject areas listed below.


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Were is the best place to buy a German helmet?


German helmets can be found in a number places.  In most cases, a wide variety of helmets can be found on the Internet through vendor websites that specialize in this type of collectable.  In addition, many potential buyers look for online auctions where they can bid to win a type of helmet with a wide degree of choice based on hundreds of listings.  However, it is important to note that not all helmets listed on websites or online auctions are in fact authentic.  The number of fraudulent helmets sold on the Internet is very high.  Buyers should be careful about which vendors they deal with.  Some estimates would say that that only 2 out of 10 helmets sold on online auctions are in fact unaltered originals.  That means you have only a 20% chance of getting something original through an online auction.  The remaining 80% being very high quality forgeries or simply doctored helmets that have lost their true value by having been altered in some way.

Should I buy a helmet at a gun or military show?


Generally speaking, you will find a good number of helmets at various prices by attending one of these shows.  The selection tends to be reasonable as many collectors and full-time dealers make a full or partial living from their businesses.  Shows of this kind provide an opportunity to compare prices from one seller's table to the next as well as an opportunity to "bargain" a better price for a helmet.  However, recent trends indicate that most sellers mark up the price of their items 20% to 50% when attending shows.  It is not uncommon to see a $350 helmet priced at $1,000 at a large militaria show.  Therefore, you should be prepared to pay a higher price or be ready to negotiate a better deal when necessary.  Many collectors and dealers will consider full or partial trade if the items you offer are interesting to them.  If attending these shows, look for individual collectors who are selling some of their items at lower prices.  Many good helmets can be found that are not overpriced if you hunt through the offerings.  At the same time, be certain to shop all the tables.  It is not uncommon to find two helmets that are identical in overall condition that are priced hundreds of dollars apart from one another. A final word of caution relates to forgeries and counterfeit helmets.  Shows of these kind have many helmets that are both original and counterfeit.  A recent informal sampling of helmets offered at a major US show revealed that at least 50% of the helmets offered were in fact counterfeits or altered originals.

Should I buy a helmet that has some sort of guarantee that it is original?


When possible it is best to buy a helmet that has an inspection period that allows you the opportunity to return it for a full refund.  Most sellers offer some sort of guarantee with an inspection period between three and five days.  Other more established dealers who make a living from this hobby offer extended six-month inspection periods or 'lifetime' guarantees.  If purchasing a helmet without a guarantee, be certain that you know what you are buying.  It is not wise to purchase something and than push or force a return if you are not satisfied.  Do your homework in advance and purchase items that you are certain are authentic.  If purchasing an item at a show, be certain that you get a business card from the seller in the event that you change your mind.  It is also wise to ask in advance if an item can be returned when purchasing directly at a show.  In some cases, collectors at shows have no intention of offering a refund in the event you leave the show and later come back weeks or months later unsatisfied.  It is also not wise to push or force a return well after the inspection period has expired.  Some buyers feel that they have a 'right' to force a return even though the inspection period has long since expired -- sometimes years later.  In other words, they feel they can ignore the terms of the transaction at any time if they change their mind.  Be certain to follow the seller's instructions and only make the purchase if you are fully knowledgeable about the return policies.  It is not courteous to demand a refund if you made the purchase in good standing and now wish to reverse your decision outside the terms of the original agreement.

What is a "lifetime" guarantee?


A "lifetime" guarantee is an agreement between you and the seller that states that you can return the helmet at any time for a full refund.  This is an open-ended agreement that never expires until the day the seller dies.  What does this mean?  If you purchase a helmet from an established dealer who is 55 years old, essentially you have until the day he dies to return the helmet for a full refund.  Given that the average life expectancy of an adult male is about 77 years, this mean you just purchased a 22 year guarantee of authenticy.  After the seller is deceased, your guarantee period has expired and the helmet is your's forever.  Many large full-time vendors have now adopted "lifetime" guarantee principles and warranties.  The theory is that this will build confidence in their existing and future customers, maintain loyalty, and increase credibility.  The entire concept has often been debated among collectors and vendors alike.  Some problems with the 'lifetime' guarantee are inherent in the overall concept:

  • Who's life?  Your's or the seller's?  In most cases, the sellers.  But what happens in the event that you die and your spouse wants a refund as part of an estate reduction -- is the refund privaledge still valid or does it just apply to you as the former buyer?

  • Life expectancy?  What if you vendor dies unexpectedly a year after you purchase the helmet?  Can you force a return by suing the deceased vendor's spouse or do you need to make a claim on his estate?  Do you have to get a 'statement of health' from your vendor to feel comfortable with his personal estimate of life expectancy?

  • Is this legal?  Did you sign a legally approved document that will hold up in claims court in the event you decide you want a refund after the seller dies?

  • Seller incapacity?  In the event the seller lives to be the age of 88 and is senile, incapacitated and relegated to living in an adult day care facility, do you feel comfortable approaching him and demanding a refund?  Will you even be able to find him?  Will the family of the seller hold this agreement up if they do not have the money to provide you?  Will anyone in the seller's family even remember this agreement or honor it?

These are the issues that are often debated when it comes to this concept.  Suffice it say that despite these worries, many collectors and sellers feel comfortable with this type of purchasing agreement.  Collectors tend to like the concept because it implies an open-ended 'warrantee' like the kind found in other major purchases.  Be aware of the fact that many fraudulent sellers who deal in counterfeit helmets have also adopted the concept of 'lifetime' guarantees.  Their approach is to convince their potential buyers that their offerings are in fact 100% authentic.  In the event that there is any level of dissatisfaction, the item can be returned without fear of retribution.

How can I be certain what I am buying is original?


The best advice is to get to know your hobby well.  Be certain you can identify known reproductions from originals.  The website offers some advice in this area which may be beneficial if you are new to the helmet collecting hobby.  - The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

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