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Authenticating Helmets With XRF Spectroscopy


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Not flawed technology per se, it is the flawed application of the technology. I won't beat a dead horse, I've already posted the problem with this technique when you don't have a baseline to compare to (basically finger printing). Very interesting subject, nonetheless.

You are right Tyler, it is flawed use and in inexperienced hands. To call something science, you must be able to know what you are doing. The XRFacts people were acting with what appears to be limited knowledge and incorrect application on handheld equipment which was beyond it's intended use.

"There is no such thing as an expert, only students with different levels of education."
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Which AB helmets is he talking about? The ones from Holland with odd D loops whose lot numbers were never disclosed?

Not sure which helmets were used Cesar and I doubt we will ever be told. However, I am aware that the sampling they used was extremely small and from questionable collections. As a result of a very poor database, they made determinations which led to the destruction of legitimate historical helmets. To this, there is no excuse or explanation that is acceptable outside of the admission: We were wrong.

 

But, then we ask: How will those affected collectors ever recoup their loses?

"There is no such thing as an expert, only students with different levels of education."
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Gentlemen,

 

Scott, it's refreshing to know that we are not the only people following the XRFacts Medicine Show ;) essentially, with respect to the "Champagne Rune" ("CR") SS helmets, the synopsis is as follows, and is to be treated as my opinions on the matter:

 

These CR SS lids have been surfacing since perhaps the late 70s, and certainly in the 90s. Back then, collectors favored "mint" helmets and "mint" decals. Certainly then, a mint SS helmet with a mint SS decal was king. Enter the CR SS helmets. Back then, without the internet, and with little good reference, authentication of these high dollar helmets was left to a small group of SS lid bigwigs. They bought and sold these CR SS lids for big bucks, even back then. Until recent revelations, they were offered for prices from $5,000 to $7,500. These CR SS helmets have been controversial, but at least one "leader" in the SS helmet collecting hobby, Kelly Hicks, has authenticated them in his books, and previously sold them for high dollar with his COAs ("Certificate of Authenticity") guaranteeing them to be original. Some turn up being sold again by other dealers with Hicks' COAs. Hicks was a member of the XRFacts group and/or face man for him. XRFacts also authenticated these CR SS helmets.

 

Fast forward; DougB is the admin of German Helmet Walhalla ("GHW") and a big SS helmet collector. He was involved in the XRFacts antics and concoction of their database. He previously was of the opinion that some of the SS CR helmets were original. Awhile back, DougB essentially renounced XRFacts as flawed voodoo. He is a proponent of high magnification analysis of helmet decals. As of late, he has concluded, quite unequivocally, that these CR SS helmets are all fakes. This is based upon his assessment, which he says he can prove, that these CR SS runes are not decals at all, but spray painted on, over templates. Additionally, lot number research (the numbers stamped in the rims of German helmets, like lot numbers in M1s), which is relatively recent, shows these CR SS decals all over the place, and clustered on M.42 helmets which were made during the period where decals were no longer placed on helmets.

 

This has the potential to cause some significant problems in the field of SS helmet collecting for those trafficking in these CR SS helmets. presumably whomever has them now is stuck with them. If DougB is correct, then these aren't decals at all and the whole XRFacts "authentication" of them is a boondoggle as well, though that would be consistent as I believe XRFacts to be one big boondoggle generally. As an aside, to "Wildcat", I don't believe that XRFacts simply used the wrong database, it is a complete misapplication of the XRF tool as it cannot do what they claim it can. This is a general assessment. We greatly appreciate Bugme's updates and assistance on the German side.

Kind regards,

Hambone

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It is interesting to notice that while interest in German helmets was decreasing due to fraud, the market for M1s grew and many German helmet gurus started pontificating about US helmets, the result of which was a flood of questionable pieces reaching the market.

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Original Airborne helmets were destroyed because these guys were monkeying with a ray gun? Sad to hear that.

Several rare helmets were destroyed by the Wilson History & Research Center run by the late Robbie Wilson(money man for XRFacts) after XRFacts determined they were not authentic. Wilson had invested heavily into this technology and trusted it based what they had been promised.

Another extremely nice A/B helmet sold by a collector on this forum was allegedly a fake based on XRFacts testing. This helmet was then looked at by a great many collectors including myself and it was quite the opposite of what XRF had determined and was actually authentic. Interestingly, several of the XRF tested U.S. helmets sold after Wilson passed away were pathetic fakes yet, they had been given the seal of approval by XRFacts.

 

 

....This is a general assessment. We greatly appreciate Bugme's updates and assistance on the German side.

Kind regards,

Hambone

Craig, Thanks for taking the time to come to the USMF and present this in much greater detail than I was able to do. We appreciate what you guys were able to uncover as well. And they say helmets collectors can't get along. :)

"There is no such thing as an expert, only students with different levels of education."
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Great posting showing the fun side of the hobby.

owen

I don't know about that Owen, is it fun dealing with all the fake Tigerstripe? ^_^

 

Anyhow, some time back, one of the authorities in TR helmet collecting(Doug B.) posted this on another forum, I think he pretty much nailed it:

__________________________________________

...they scanned and authenticated 5 decals that were incorrectly branded as real that we're not. 2 tricolors, 1 party decal, 1 runic SS decal, and 1 Heer that while not fake was guaranteed to be a KM, which it clearly was not. These are simple facts and cannot be disputed. The SS example I use was given an XRF Certification number and guaranteed to be authentic by the standards set for XRF and the unique "code" all German helmet decals have...maui's words not mine. This means XRF cannot be trusted to be the fast food point and click magic authentication tool it was touted as being.
I wrote extensively on the subject on GHW and to a lesser extent here as what I tried to be as an impartial observer who held hope for promise of this technology and sat in on 2 detailed demonstrations over several days. It was quite fascinating, however the technology was rushed to market when it should have remained a research tool.
While other forums and some members here berated the technology (now rightfully so) I was willing to give it a chance, much to chagrin of forum, PM and email attacks to me by those vehemently opposed to the technology. But I'm not too proud to say they were right. But I disagree with their methods of discussion and debate, but that's another story.
The challenges were and remain; (and not limited to)
1. No independent corroboration of the validity of the use of the technology.
2. No independent corroboration of the testing results.
3. Data had a wide margin for interpretive results.
4. Database errors.
5. Privately held database with zero transparency making up the baseline.
6. No scientific background or discipline.
7. A rush to market commercializing the technology for profit.
8. A serious conflict of interest resulting from number 7.
9. Dealers using the technology for authentication, resulting in even more of number8.
10. Claims that were never publicly translated or shared, resulting in a 100% trust factor. See number 9.
11. The total reliance upon point and click vs real world experience. This means when you read the other 10 problems you better trust the person pointing and clicking 110% as he is the one giving you the results.
12. No recourse if they are wrong.
13. Finally fake decals visible to the naked eye being authenticated. For this technology to really truly work, not one fake can "slip through".
...I was personally attacked and called out as jealous of XRF's "success", called a simpleton, and mocked for the use of a microscope amid false claims I said I "invented" and taking credit for its use....
The problem is, I can prove my statements above and XRF cannot.
The technology has been proven to NOT WORK RELIABLY to accurately authenticate paint and decals 100% of the time. Period. I give full credit for the study of it and hard work that went into it. Some good came out of it. But it failed the test of time I was willing to give it, and in it's rush to market something unproven it failed miserably.
Note, I witnessed the scanning of over 60 SS helmets. Real Unapplied loose decals. Fake decals. All you can think of. You guys can talk about how this or that should be done. I've seen it work and I've seen it fail.
XRF had a chance but is dead and should be gone. In my humble opinion.

_________________________________________________

"There is no such thing as an expert, only students with different levels of education."
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Doug is a good guy I know him from my SS helmet cover dealings.

That world with its fakes is beyond deeper than fake SS helmets.

The fact that Italian SS covers have made their way into.... The Collectors Guild.....Shea.....to name a few, we counted up to 70 pcs made makes this machine a "FUN" aspect of the hobby.

The fact that suckers fell for it is typical of the sheep who will buy because of a few big names endorsement.

FUN AND GAMES makes me smile.

owen

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Several rare helmets were destroyed by the Wilson History & Research Center run by the late Robbie Wilson(money man for XRFacts) after XRFacts determined they were not authentic. Wilson had invested heavily into this technology and trusted it based what they had been promised.

Another extremely nice A/B helmet sold by a collector on this forum was allegedly a fake based on XRFacts testing. This helmet was then looked at by a great many collectors including myself and it was quite the opposite of what XRF had determined and was actually authentic. Interestingly, several of the XRF tested U.S. helmets sold after Wilson passed away were pathetic fakes yet, they had been given the seal of approval by XRFacts.

 

 

Craig, Thanks for taking the time to come to the USMF and present this in much greater detail than I was able to do. We appreciate what you guys were able to uncover as well. And they say helmets collectors can't get along. :)

 

That's quite sad, that a ray gun light show, completely unvetted, and supported by a censored WAF forum proclaiming this voodoo to be the "savior of the hobby" resulted in the destruction of history. That's worse than the fakes blessed as originals by XRFacts and their ray gun. The fear some of us had early on was based upon the public hype at WAF, supported by their moderators, that XRFacts would spill over and be the "savior" of various segments of the militaria collecting hobby, e.g. M1 helmets, cloth insignia, uniforms, etc. At WAF they "predicted" that "soon, all artifacts will require an XRFacts COA". Yes, at $200 a pop per light show pie chart COA blessing.

 

Enter the same issue that perpetuated the apparent "Champagne Rune" SS lid hoax; a few people enthroning themselves as the arbiters of originality, for profit. This is why we all need to work together, share knowledge, and protect each other in our shared hobby, militaria collecting. I collect M1 helmets and US too! Thanks again Scott, for your help and input!

 

 

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CRITICAL UPDATE: The fallout concerning XRF, COA's, expert opinion, reputations, high end faked helmets and denial have come to roost this week among our contemporaries in the German helmet collecting community. The result of this will be a rewrite of a lot of previously written books and accepted ideas. It will eventually affect us in some way in the U.S. helmet community. DougB over on the WAF reminded us of this: We need leave ego at the door, remain open minded, admit errors and faults. Good advise for those of us who collect U.S.helmets.

I'd like to also thank those who in many areas of militaria collecting(both U.S. and Foreign), like Hambone and others, who went against the status quo and didn't stop questioning the lie's, opinions, false science and misconceptions being presented as truth. Many took a great deal of heat on this subject but, held the line. In the end, some folks will be stuck with worthless fakes that they spent $20,000+ for, all because of denial and outright fraud.

"There is no such thing as an expert, only students with different levels of education."
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  • 5 months later...

I think we will eventually have the tools we need. XRF is a great tool and a fantastic technology. I would like to have a tool which not only gives the chemical breakdown but the age. If we can get a tool that provides an age of the paint, then fakers using new, old stock paint or an Airborne trooper in England on June 5th painting his helmet is irrelevant. Knowing how long the paint has been on a helemt is key.

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bottom line for me is and has always been........do your own research,trust your gut,be satisfied with what you have and enjoy your collection.i have been collecting long enough to have been around when the "cr"decals first started appearing and i didn't like them from the start.common sense told me,i have been collecting german helmets for 15-20 years before you started seeing them.......where are all these coming from all of a sudden.a lot of collecting is just good common sense.............dave

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