German World War II Police helmet
by rick stumbo (06/03/08).
Pictured is a World War II German model 1934 Police helmet. The helmet has double decals on either side. One decal is the German Eagle with swaztica in silver and black and wreath of silver and black surrounded in black with a silver colored border representing the German nation. The second decal is the Nazi party flag with swaztica on a white background surrounded by red with a black border this decal represents the Nazi party. The helmet is made of a medium grade steel not used in the combat helmets of the same type. Police helmets were painted black with a brown leather nine tongued liner and black leather chin strap. These helmets were worn by Police unit throughout Germany and the occuipied countries who were not involved in combat operations. The model 1934 helmet was made as a light weight alternative to the much heavier steel combat helmet. Many helmets are found in Antique Malls, Gun and Militaria shows and on line auctions. Experience is the best teacher to collecting these items but there are a few things to look for when deciding whether to buy and old helmet or not. Is it real or a reproduction? First of all if it is a German World War II helmet with a high price tag proceed with caution. Look carefully at the paint job inside and out, smell the helmet. If you smell paint put it down and walk away. No further descussion is needed. A helmet that is 60 plus years old should not smell like paint. If it has a decal check the edges of the decal with your finger. If you can feel the edge of the decal with your finger it is probably a reproduction decal to make the helmet more valuable. These decals were heated when originally placed on the helmet. Original decals are very thin and adhere to the roughness or smoothness of the helmet. If the decal appears thick and covers the texture of the steel then it is probably a fake. If the decal is painted do the smell check. You can also purchase a small battery powered black light to check the paint. If the paint refects or luminates in the black light the paint probably has a synthetic material in it which indicates it was made after World War II and therefore not original to the helmet. Smell the liner inside, if it smells musty like old leather that is a good thing. If it smells new then that’s what it is and not original to the helmet. Look for pry marks inside the helmet around the liner, mix matched or damaged rivets or screws. This might indicate someone as changed or replaced the liner. Maybe the helmet was brought back by a vet without the liner and the new owner wants to increase the value by adding a liner. You can not collect anything without good reference material. You can start with more inexpensive books and create your own library on whatever are your collecting interests . Books with a military interests in mind can be found on line and at some books store although usually very limited. Check used book stores for great deals on some of these books. On line www.idsabooks.com is a good start along with www.schifferbooks.com among others. After you have made your purchase use a damp soft cloth to wipe the inside and outside of the helmet down. Make sure not to get the helmet liner wet and insure the helmet dries and does not rust. A small amount of light oil can be used but it is best to keep this away from the decal which could damage it. Blackrock or other leather cleaner or preservative will work on the chin strap. If the helmet liner does not need these things do not use them. One of the biggest mistakes collectors make is trying to make the item better or newer looking than it is. Preserve and protect the item do not change it. If it has a little rust or wear and tear leave it alone. If you start changing or “improving” the item, the value starts going down fast. And it’s originality and desirablity as a collectable will suffer sometimes to the extreme. I have seen many expensive items reduced to 0 value by well meaning collectors. The retail value on the pictured German Police helmet is $350.00 to $450.00 When looking at these helmets or other collectables take your time and look over the item carefully. Do not be rushed into a purchase and beware of a person selling the item that knows nothing about it. By the same token beware of the good story that seems to accompany some items that people are selling. You will make mistakes it’s all part of that experience I mentioned earlier, get over them and move on. The rare find makes collecting a piece of our history all the more exciting and rewarding. Like my mother once said, “you could have worse hobbies” Thanks, Mom