I am certainly not trying to be argumenative but would like to add my experience with leather and liners to the conversation.
Actually the staining on the liner is water damage. The 2 types of most commonly used leathers for liners were sheep skin and pig skin later in the war. Sheep skin is best because of the natural lanolin in the hide. Sheep skin is easily damaged by water especially after it has aged for a few years. The tannic acid used to tan the leather will react to water exposure in just the way you see here.
The helmet shown has sat upside down and water has collected in the bowl several times and wicked up the fingers of the liner and dried out several times to cause the pattern of water damage. It is not from blood sir.
Thanks for the info on the blood vs. water.
I do have a question with regard to that. Your explanation make sense and it sure looks to me like what water does to different leathers. I don't have relics like this, but I do have a lot of hunting and fishing items- vests, creels, knife sheaths, etc. What you describe is similar to the water spotting and weathering on other vintage leather items I have.
With that in mind, there is one spot that doesn't look the same and hasn't aged the same as the rest of the liner. That is the dark spot on the left rear of the liner. This spot doesn't show the same wicking as the rest of the helmet, is very dark, and the leather is cracked through, brittle, and very unlike anywhere else on the liner. It is the only place where the liner has seemed to break down at all. The rest of the line while dry, and not supple, is still in good conditions for the most part. It seems isolated and since the darkening on the rest of the liner seems uniform, this is by itself. My question would be- is this still consistent with water? Perhaps this is something else in this single location?
Here's a couple more picks....
As far as the chin strap goes.... Here are a couple close ups..... As I said, it is riveted on both ends. The terminal end is worked about 30% through. The stitching of the strap is a little unique in that it is very clearly a V type of stitch. After the mention of the gas mask I looked at what I could find and only saw the normal cross stitch pattern. ????
And here are a couple more pics that show a little better the coloring and condition of the helmet. The rust still shows a little more in the pics than it appears when looking at it.
Thanks again everyone for the insights on this! I've learned a ton of stuff in the last few days and it certainly has me primed for learning more!
Hey there, first off i will say this is a wonderful story and please hang onto this helmet. I only dream of such things happening.
I will add, your helmet looks like it possibly had another decal at one point, possibly Luftwaffe?? I cant really see well with the pictures, but if you could take a close up picture of the white marks on the side of the helmet that would be great.
Someone correct me if im wrong, i cant see the pic very well..
Personally I would leave the liner alone but I would use oxalic acid to treat the outer shell to stop the rust. The helmet is worth several thousand dollars as is. A little TLC would help it a lot. Remember after leather is damaged it can't be reversed so don't mess with it.
It is very exciting to see this helmet. Few people have seen this since the war until now. I wish to someday be lucky enough to find something like this. Still studying before I commit to investing in an SS lid. Please take good care of it.
Interesting helmet and thread. Certainly a helmet to be desired. The point made about the water damage appearing to be blood is interesting. As a practical example the old shoes I'm wearing now show the same effect. Looks like blood.
Even if it was blood, it doesn't neccessarily mean a fatal outcome for the original owner. Remember even minor cuts to the head can produce copious amounts of blood. Only yesterday my two year old hit his head and the amount of blood scattered about was amazing for a tiny cut. He wasn't even that bothered by it. I imagine in combat a nick on the head wouldn't stop an SS soldier.