Okay, it rained all day. These iPhone photos aren't the best, but, they should give everyone an idea of the patina and details of the helmet. I would love to take extensive photos for everyone; but, I simply don't have the time.
As I have said from the beginning, I am confident this helmet is authentic and the medic paint scheme was done by a German medic some time before September 1944. Here is how I come to this conclusion:
The helmet paint and inscriptions show honest patina / wear.
Please review the attached photos.
Liner system - you will have to take my word that it is untouched. All pins are exactly what you would see straight from the factory...upon exiting the washers, the pins do not make a perfect 90 degree angle. Factory applied pins leave the washer at a slight angle follow by a slight bend. Molested pins show secondary bends, fresh scratches, gunk applied to mask adjustment, etc. These pins don't exhibit any of this.
Chinstrap - the tip of the chinstrap exhibits some of the white paint used in painting the exterior of the helmet. This paint has, however, faded over time--it is not fresh. I would venture to say this effect would be hard to "reproduce" without compromising the leather. This supports the idea the helmet was painted a long time ago.
German name - in the forehead region, a name is written "Dr. _ _ _". I have seen many German helmets with names written in pencil in the liner. This inscription shows honest age and also be hard to reproduce without scuffing the liner leather. I see NO such signs. I also know Germans used the abbreviation "Dr." for Doktor. I believe this inscription was done by the German soldier who owned this helmet prior to 9/44.
US Veteran Inscription - I have no way of knowing who exactly made this inscription; however, I feel confident in saying it was done by a US veteran. This inscription shows honest age. I see no signs of rubbing or anything to fade the inscription to make it appear older than it is. The inscription itself has been well documented, and I'll address what it means in my next section.
Medic paint application - The helmet was painted with the liner system installed, as the paint doesn't fully flow under the exterior pin heads. The cross was masked off--I'm not sure what came first white or reddish / brown, but, I'd guess white. The reddish brown cross has taken on a "matte" finish due to a top layer of patina. The white paint also shows honest age / patina. You can see the scratches / dings in the paint show various degress of patina. What do I mean by that? You can tell the scratches / dings which occurred many years ago from the ones which have occurred more recently from handling. You can see clumps of paint...maybe caused from stacking? I see a thumb print in the paint. I see one part of the paint which touched fabric maybe? The paint on the brim is smoother than the rest of the helmet--probably from the soldier removing the helmet repeatedly over time. No active rust is present. No bare metal or recent paint smell is present (just normal musty German helmet smell). I see no tool marks as mentioned previously. The paint chips were mentioned earlier--chips in paint is pretty common (I see it quite a bit in AfrikaKorps helmets). It all depends on what the helmet hit to cause the damage. No artificial aging done to the pin heads--which is common on reproductions.
The helmet paint doesn't show a lot of wear--but, neither does the liner. And, not all helmets were stored in harsh conditions over the last 70 years. I believe the German soldier's position also is a reason the helmet shows limited wear--more on this in the next section.
The likely meaning behind the US Veteran inscription
"Med Off Zolt Ostbunker Naval Academy Captured 9/44"
Interestingly, the seller stated in the auction description that the inscription read "Ostbunker Medical Academy". Big difference.
As I attempted to understand the meaning of the inscription, I searched all the German Naval Academies--attempting to find a connection to a "Ostbunker". My searches were in vain until I spoke with a friend who mentioned the helmet--if taken by a D-day vet in September--was likely taken upon the conclusion of the batttle for Brest. That was the information I needed...as my next search yielded a Axis Forum conversation from 11/9/06. Here is an excerpt from the conversation:
"According to some books and internet sites there is a Seekommandantstand near the right side of the Marine Schule on the left side there is the same bunker build also 2 levels and this is called a hospital- bunker. On air reconnaissance photo's from 1944 (Blue Chazette) there are red crosses painted on both bunkers and in the Kampfanweisung Festung Brest from 1944 there are 2 bunkers the West- and Ostbunker at the Marine Schule with both operation-room and a total capacity of..."
Sadly, I couldn't pull the entire excerpt. However, the picture became more vivid after reading this. The battle for Brest was wrapping up in September of 1944. As you can see above, the Marine Schule (Naval Academy) had converted its two bunkers into hospital bunkers. The vet who captured this helmet, obviously took it from the Ostbunker. The vet probably uncovered the name of the German Medical Officer through conversations (as a prisoner) or from the paperwork off a dead body--I would assume as a prisoner. Zolt is a very uncommon name--and seems to be of Hungarian descent. Maybe the vet misunderstood the German...but, Zolt is a name that exists...just very rare. As a medical officer in a hospital bunker, this helmet wouldn't have been on the "front lines"...both the officer rank and hospital setting would point towards a helmet with little wear. This coupled with the fact a German name or initials with the abbreviation "Dr." in the liner convinces me that the helmet was painted by a German soldier and not by the US veteran capturing the helmet.
Lt. Charles Giese
I have yet to confirm with 100% certainty that Lt Giese captured and wrote the inscription in the helmet. However, many D-day veterans found themselves fighting in Brest months after the invasion. It seems reasonable that he was in Brest and, being a medical officer himself, took a souvenir from a medical officer from the other side. This is just a theory now--but, it seems very reasonable to me.
Given Giese is still living and I have encountered his address / phone number, I'll be writing him for more information. I will also request his service record--which could point to the division he was attached to. Based on division reports, I can deduce if Giese would have found himself in or near Brest.
In-hand, it is pretty obvious the paint is old and wasn't artificially aged. Based on the inscriptions, I feel it is very likely the German Doktor painted the helmet--not a US Veteran. I also believe the helmet was taken in from the Ostbunker of the Marine Schule at Brest...September 1944.
11-21-2014 06:10 AM
Hi mate, credit where credits due, you really have done your homework. I myself had a little "book search" over the last few days and also came to the conclusion that if this helmet was correct it was not captured on the "9th day" but the "9th month" as the 9th day would have placed it at the Maisey Battery which would certainly have not had no Navel Academy! I had only concluded that it was either Breast or Cherbourg that were likely areas. I really hope the vet concerned writes back to you and confirms this as a piece he "liberated" at that time , without it questions will always hang in the minds of some collectors, again, well done on your research and I hope it all works out. Leon.
"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." Ernest Hemingway
As a general question about painting technique. How was the cross area masked out on these overpainted helmets? What type of masking tape was used? Duct tape or similar that was around in WWII? Because I can't see any visible signs of cut marks in the under or overpainting on this example which I think might be in evidence even if a medics scalpel was used to cut out the masking tape that makes up the red cross shape.
Is it possible to take a really sharp low angle macro photo of the area(s) where the red cross paint meets the white painted area so the over/under paint heights can been seen? Similar to this one but sharper focus.
Last edited by StefanM; 11-21-2014 at 09:03 AM.
I collect, therefore I am.
Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.
This photo was added to the auction a day or two in..pretty sure this photo got the attention of the other bidders who were right there with me.
It does look more convincing in the new pics and as is often the case with items like this, hands on is the best, though of course we only have the photos to base our opinions on, and the first set were pants.
If your happy with it in the hand.
its just an opinion.
I honestly think this should be continued in another separate thread with better photos as the initial introduction to the helmet --- it appears to me that the coupling of ebay, poor listing photos and natural skepticism/ensuing critical discussion and comments are very "derailing" in light of the new info/photos (although valid in its own right at the time).
At this point I just feel that this possibly very real/authentic helmet deserves better. If the current owner wants, of course... just a suggestion.
The better pics are a help but the background research much more so. Anyone who has tried to photograph a white helmet, its nearly impossible to convey the look in hand so if Rob says it shows better in hand I do believe him and he is pretty experienced at handling painted helmets.
That all said, with just the new pics you posted alone if I were offered it I would be cautiously optimistic, but I defer to you and your in hand experience as there is no doubt in my mind he has done his homework.
Whose the pack of fools now eh.
Goes to show a few things.
One, photos simply make or break a painted helmet. Period. I have seen great camos that were no doubt period and authentic and had 100% good comments when studio/book quality photos were posted yet when another person posts the exact same helmet years later with terrible pics, they received awful reviews. This medic helmet from the original images combined with the plethora of fake medic helmets that are posted on auction sites and sales sites globally on an almost daily basis which really muddy the waters certainly received justifiable negative comments in my opinion. Robs newer photos are better and with book quality pics and correct lighting there is no doubt the signs of a real helmet will emerge.
Two, provenance is everything. This helmet clearly has some provenance and history that aligns nicely. There is no "grandaddy brought it back from the great world war two" and I dont know anything else about it story. It doesn't come from Eastern Europe.
Three, do your homework both on what your buying and the provenance. A lot of work went into this to make a confident purchase.
Four, experience wins. Rob obviously must have seen and read enough about it to trigger some positive vibes and to make a move on it. I have seen two top shelf SS helmets trashed on the Red Land Forum with similar poor or no quality photos. I own them both now, one is a 3 color Normandy SS named and researched to an ex-Germania soldier which came out of an estate sale and the other is one of the nicest Q SS (ex) DD helmets on the planet, in near new condition including a rare SS VA marked strap which has a similar backstory.
So a hearty congrats Rob, I think you nailed a killer medic helmet with some hard work and intuition.
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Still pretty blurry to me to be able make out the painting process.
As you have the helmet in hand, do you think that the red cross paint was applied first as a red patch and the white paint over-painted onto a masked cross area? Or the red cross over-painted on the white? Any ideas on what period masking tape(?) type might have been used or would it have been a stencil?
I collect, therefore I am.
Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.
It shows up a lot of good points about helmets such as this, which because of a number of variables was not universally liked by all here, though some did like it, many did not. As one of those who did not like it from the original pics and the confusing sellers pics I might wish to see this thread vanish into the ether, but that is not the case and I stand by my original comments based on the pics shown at that time, but I am happy to be wrong and have no problem with that being here.
It illustrates the need for good pics to be shown, which after all is what the opinions are based on, also in this case it seems that some good research has brought rewards. I'd still like to see better pics but for now it appears to have a good chance of being a period done item, though it could have been painted by the Vet after the war but still long enough ago to give it some age and if overpainting an original paint scheme it would look much the same, though I doubt that is the case here.
This thread is a good example of why forum opinions are not the only thing to base decisions on to buy or not and is in its own way a part of the story of this helmet.
I look forward to seeing some better pics but I see no reason to start a new thread.
its just an opinion.
I didn't explain why I felt that? Really? Did I say anything about closing this thread? I only proposed to have another created with good representative photos as an initial proper introduction to this helmet as I simply think it deserves it --- I can't really see how you didn't make that out from my comment.
This thread would still be here, open for discussion and serve as a reminder to not always take forum opinions as the end all be all.