Could such pieces have been created by a veteran? Perhaps. But we need to be careful that our comments condemning them are not too general in nature, for just because we have not seen photographic evidence of a particular style of painted eagle or a certain camo scheme or a certain practice (e'g', a metal eagle affixed to the front of a helmet), this does not mean that it is not authentic or was never done and that it was not in fact applied during the period of mobilization. (Remember, some helmet modifications may be from the period following the cessation of hostilities, but while the armed forces were still in an occupation mode --- IMHO those pieces are legitimate).
Of course, sometimes the makers of fakes count on our willingness to allow for uncommon variants -- they will take advantage of an "open mind". But there is a difference between an "open mind" and "wishful thinking". The open mind will recognize that -- particularly in the area of helmets, where there is so much individuality -- you need to look at many factors before making a decision and must weigh them all, one against the other --- only one of which is the presence or absence of photographic documentation.
The wishful thinker, on the other hand, just wants so much for something to be real that he will swallow the faker's product hook, line and sinker. He talks himself into the acquisition without reference to all of those external evidential factors. That's the collector who throws good money away on certain eBay pieces when everything screams to him not to do it....
Helmet collecting is fraught with peril. it has always been so. Unfortunately, because of the increasing popularity of Polish militaria (and its attendant increase in value), the profiteers with their paint brushes and tall tales and professed lack of knowledge (aka "plausible deniability") have come out in force...
So remember... let's be careful out there.
I spoke of ignoring evidential factors. Here are two helmets offered at the same time by the same seller on eBay. One's a motorcycle dispatch rider helmet; the other's a para. Both sold, as I recall....
What's wrong with this picture???
Apologies for the serial posts, but I would also like to opine on the question of known patterns versus unknown ones. There are obviously certain types of helmets where we can identify, categorize and date specific stencil patterns. Polish paratrooper helmets, as pointed out by Gary J, would be the classic example.
But my experience indicates that in addition to the more commonly known stencil patterns, there were many "one-off" patterns that were produced and utilized as a matter of course. Remember, many of the Polish helmets were applied with an "overpaint" to reflect local conditions. Once an overpaint was done, the stencils that to us are the more known and recognized ones were very often not available in such circumstances. In such cases it would not be unusual for someone to create a stencil to employ in its stead, and because they were done under local conditions, such patterns are usually very simplistic. Indeed, if there was no one to do even that much, Polish soldiers were known to simply paint their own eagles onto their helmets. Some of these were quite well done while others lacked any semblance of artistic merit. Athentic examples of the results of this practice are not uncommon.
Hello Ivan, and welcome to the forum.
Yes, some very valid points !
And hence I was going to try to stick to period photo's which would at least show contemporary variants.
I think I did also mention, that I would be suspect of cap badges applied to helmets, for the simple reason it is the easiest way to make a helmet "Polish", and thus any contemporary items have now been lost amongst a sea of copies.
That's why with this thread I've tried to stick to the known Exile variants, I rather show the known than get mixed up in a tangle of "ifs, buts and maybes"
Anyhow, the para helmet that was on e-bay that you've shown, .. if I remember right (it was some time back now), the helmet was infact a post war Belgian helmet from the 1950's.
Therefore, seeing that both helmets seemed to be "eagled" up in the same way, I think that throw's immediate doubt on both items, .... not to mention the really dicey paint jobs on both helmets
Also, I'm not over keen on the eagles themselves. I have never seen a Polish Para with this style of eagle.
It would be interesting to see how the eagle on that para helmet was applied, if it was drilled, I would right it off the helmet immediately, for the simple reason that the para helmets were "return to stock army property" , .. and I'm sure that a senior NCO would have had the soldier peeling potatoes for a week for damaging equipment.
There no doubt exists a reference in the Parachute Brigade's daily orders to the specifics of insignia applied to the helmet, and that being a daily order would have been adhered to. Fashion statements concerning field equipment are out of the question.
Last edited by Gary J; 10-30-2009 at 07:23 PM.
Tommy helmets, however, are another matter. The same can be said for some helmets used by the AK and modified for identification purposes. And of course, French Adrians were intended to accommodate metal insignia.
I also understand why you want to focus on period photos. Makes perfect sense. My only comment on that point is that the collector should be aware that just because it isn't in a book doesn't mean it didn't exist. That goes back to my earlier lengthy post. --- But this also means that inexperienced collectors, or those who are the "wishful thinkers", will end up with bogus pieces, and the hacks that turn them out -- whether they are applying metal insignia or simply painting the eagles on --- are encouraged to continue and are making good money in the process.
Still working on the helmet flashes booklet Gary, but still need to do some more research
Not at the moment Gary, will try to find it, a bit of a mess at the moment, but will do my best
Also note the color of the helmet -- it is an overpaint in olive green of a lighter hue (even a bit on the yellowish side) and interesting texturizing that was applied in addition to the normally-seen MDR texture. A nice piece that is now in a collection in France.
In fact, if I recall correctly, if you look closely at this helmet you can almost see that there was another eagle stenciled beneath it which was then overpainted and stenciled again. This is not the only time I have seen that done, as I have a tropical camo MkII that has a similar "ghost" eagle beneath the visible one.