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Thoughts on this WW1 painted tank corps helmet


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Hello

I would like some opinions on this helmet? I am thinking of selling it and was wondering what a fair price might be.

 

thanks

Ilsepost-390-1174519628.jpg post-390-1174519659.jpg post-390-1174519686.jpg

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I dont know what a fair price for it would be but I can tell you that it is a British made helmet. Was not uncommon for US to have the Brit lids tho. Is the paint job original?

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Ilse,

 

It is so hard to tell on these things. I have almost completely quit buying them because so many are fakes, and it is so easy to fake them.

 

Back in the 70s, it took me about 10 years before I found my first WW1 painted helmet. They just weren't that common. Today, it is hard to find an unpainted one.

 

On the good side:

 

- Your helmet seems to be painted in generally the correct style

- It appears that the paint is flaking around the rim (a good sign of old paint on steel)

 

On the bad side:

 

- The paint looks pretty new (could just be the light)

- There appear to be spots where there is no texture sand under the camo (it could have worn off before the shell was painted)

 

To me its a toss up. If I had gotten it as a part of a named group, I would tend to lean toward genuine. If It came by itself I would probably lean the other way.

 

Remember too, that some of these were made to hang in VFW halls many years after the war.

 

Price, if it could be proved genuine, should be in the $250 range, I'd think.

 

Chris

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This helmet is definitely not a "one looker".. A real one like this would go for about $350. Original Tank Corps helmets are very rare and desirable, and thus have been faked for a long time.

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the age of the camo does not match the age of the original paint inside

 

looks like somebody did the camo paint job within the last 10 years or less

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The paint does not jive with period originals that I have seen.

 

Agreed. I would not want this one in my collection.

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The colors don't quite match up. I put together a collage of WWI camo colors and you can see some similarities across the board (I also included a model of a WWI airplane done up in realistic camo colors). The WWI colors seem to have very much a pastel look: that one looks very vibrant and the hues are close but no cigar.

 

camohelmets.jpgpost-390-1174519686.jpg

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I have to respectfully disagree with the consensus here. I'm not pulling out the 'I'm an expert' flag (very annoying when people do that!), and I will readily admit that I can be fooled by a high quality fraudulent paint job just like anyone else. There are certainly enough self-proclaimed 'experts' out there that end up with egg on their face.

 

However.... having handled a large number of these painted helmets, many of which have been in identified groups with solid provenance, the reasons cited for dislike of this helmet just don't hold water. I have seen plenty of helmets with paint that looks brighter than this that are 100% no-questions-asked good. I have also seen plenty that seemed to be perfect, but turned out to be bogus. There is nothing visible in the photos that would lead me to believe the helmet to be bad.

 

I will also put my money where my mouth and gut feelings are. There is no way to know for certain with (most) painted helmets without a first-hand examination, so I will be glad to post a follow-up after the helmet arrives in the mail. :D

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post-548-1175223978.jpgpost-548-1175223999.jpgpost-548-1175223978.jpgI have enclosed pictures of one of my 100% ORIGINAL WWI camo's. Someone made the comment that is seems that there are more camo's around now, than there were during the First World War - Which I am inclined to agree. There is conjecture and debate as to when these camo's actually came into being. While the Germans applied camo on their helmets, per a German directive, in 1918, some are of the belief that such American helmets were not decorated until AFTER the war, for veteran hall's, etc. I believe that it is a mix, and perhaps someone here can show us some nice period photo's of these camo's? I think that it would be a great idea.

 

At any rate, this is just a nice, original camo.

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I have yet to see any evidence that US doughboys wore camouflaged helmets in the trenches pre-11-11-18. That being said, it would be very interesting (and cool) if such documentation was to surface! We do know that they were using actual camouflage on tanks, trucks, artillery, etc. as well as the dazzle camo on warships (my personal favorite.)

 

They were certainly bitten by the camo bug during the post-armistice period, though. Helmets range from the mundane to the bizarre, and they seemed inclined to camouflage other gear when allowed to do so, especially trunks, footlockers, storage boxes, etc. Some of it is clearly inspired by the ship's dazzle camo, some by real camouflage meant to serve its original military intent, a lot by the German camo helmets, and other thing must have been the result of ingesting the wrong mushrooms.

 

Here is one of my favorites that was clearly 'dazzle' inspired:

V29818-9.jpg

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Some of the camo schemese, especially on the two that we had just posted, are just too "loud" to have any logical use as an effective camo. Some camo's are quite entertaining to look at, while others are simply works of American folk art! I think that a lot of people assume that just because it is a US M1917, it was used during WWI. Many of these helmets were re-issued, or manufactured post war, and many of the divisional insignia, and camo's likely date from this period. Good food for thought!

 

Chris

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Unfortunately there are still a LOT of misconceptions about the AEF in WWI.

 

cpatrick is absolutely right. These are much more folk art than camouflage.

 

These are WWI helmets, worn by US soldiers. However, all the evidence that I have seen to this point is that none of these camo schemes have anything to do with the military purpose of camouflage. Some of them may resemble military camo, but this was not their purpose. If you want to collect WWI US uniforms and painted helmets, you must understand that you are collecting the uniforms and headgear as it was worn during the post-Armistice period and into the occupation of Germany.

 

Those of us who collect AEF material understand this and don't mind a bit - the patches and painted helmets look great and give us a way to represent the different units who served. When a collector wants to set up a display to represent what the guys wore in the trenches, he gets a plain uniform with collar discs and perhaps an overseas chevron, web equipment (no elaborate painted-up gas mask), and a plain as-issued M1917 helmet.

 

Anyone who is seeking a camo helmet and is looking for particular colors to represent something that would have been worn in combat is unfortunately on a snipe hunt.

 

For new collectors, these misconceptions can sometimes be hard to reconcile.

 

A few years ago I was approached by a friend who had been a big collector of US Civil War items. The prices had taken the fun out of it and he decided to start collecting US WWI. He asked my advice on what I thought would be a good uniform to buy first - one that would represent a particularly good unit. I recommended several, and mentioned their statistics for time in the front lines. He was absolutely crestfallen. "What do you mean 66 days in active sectors?!? I want something from the guys who were there for at least four years!"

For some reason my advice "Then you should collect French, German, Belgian, Commonwealth, Russian, etc." did not smooth his feathers.

 

Once we stop trying to fit history into our preconceived notion of what it SHOULD have been according to our notions as collectors and start to accept it for what it really was, they we can start to really enjoy collecting this stuff. Understanding the entire era: the literature, decorative arts, popular culture, politics, etc. is what really puts these things into context and brings them to life. WWI is an era particularly rich for this.

 

A few of these painted helmets could be used in museum exhibits to illustrate not only WWI headgear, but also

- the Victorian era boom in tourist travel that popularized scrapbooks and 'knick-knack' shelves to display a family's worldly souvenirs

- Art Deco style

- the contrast of new technologies such as aerial warfare, tanks, and the machine gun set against the revival of ancient technologies such as helmets and body armor.

 

So, just one of these 'War Diary' helmets covered in place names inscribed over Art Deco inspired camouflage with an aviation or Armor unit insignia on the front would be equally appropriate as an artifact in different museum exhibits on WWI, Architecture, Art, Popular Culture, etc.

 

The much belabored point here is that I think a lot of collectors have trouble with WWI uniforms and helmets because they are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Stop beating on the thing and appreciate the square peg for what it actually is, and you will have a lot more fun. Sorry for the long post. I never did learn when to shut up.

 

 

Some of the camo schemese, especially on the two that we had just posted, are just too "loud" to have any logical use as an effective camo. Some camo's are quite entertaining to look at, while others are simply works of American folk art! I think that a lot of people assume that just because it is a US M1917, it was used during WWI. Many of these helmets were re-issued, or manufactured post war, and many of the divisional insignia, and camo's likely date from this period. Good food for thought!

 

Chris

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I never did learn when to shut up.

 

Thank goodness! I think that was an excellent, informative post especially for beginners such as myself!

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You make a very good point there.

A lot of collector want to see it all 'their' way and ignore how it actually was.

Very good point.

 

Erwin

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Jeff, that's good info for the beginning collector. It's amazing to me how many helmet collectors haven't even read the first chapter in "Painted Steel", yet are shelling out big $ for this stuff..

 

I certainly do not have a negative opinion towards this helmet because it is too bright. I have seen camos that you almost needed to wear sunglasses to look at them :). What I don't like is that the paint looks recently done. Of course, my opinion is from what I can see in the pictures and could easily change with an in hand inspection. Maybe I'm being overly cautious because of all the bad Tank Corps helmets I've been seeing.

 

Years ago when I first started collecting painted helmets, the old time collectors always told me how rare Tank Corps helmets are. I've only obtained one with just the insignia. But look around now. I've seen more "Original" Tank Corps helmets (including several camos) in the past year than I've seen 1st Division helmets.

 

Anyway, it will be interesting to read your follow-up once you receive the helmet.

 

Jared

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Excellent points.

 

Once we stop trying to fit history into our preconceived notion of what it SHOULD have been according to our notions as collectors and start to accept it for what it really was, they we can start to really enjoy collecting this stuff. Understanding the entire era: the literature, decorative arts, popular culture, politics, etc. is what really puts these things into context and brings them to life. WWI is an era particularly rich for this.
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Jeff, I could not agree with you more.

It is very true that most painted helmets were done on the way home or right before the big Vet's day parade. I just picked up a Killer 88th division Machine Gun Company painted helmet in maroons, blacks and greens that if I did not get it from the man I did, I would think it was fake. It is bright and it was done for a Vet's parade here in Iowa in the 1920's. ( I will post in a few days) I have to admit when I first started buying american helmets, I was most interested in WW1 because of the amount of affordable (compared to german) painted and unit marked helmets, and BOY did the first chapter of painted steel burst my bubble ( I had thought they were done on the front). Then I decided they were still VERY historic helmets and the men who had them were VERY proud of them so..I decided that was good enough for me and I still buy them to this day. THey are a mine field but the art is fantastic!

 

I like the Armor helmet and my personal opinion is that it was done for a Vet's parade ( The men loved to stand out on parade as my grandfather told me, and this helmet does just that!) I have learned from talking to some very experienced collectors here in Iowa is that the condition of the paint is dependant on the condions in which the helmet was stored. In the closet in a box you will have bright, natural colors, in a barn, wet basement or shelf in garage (where most vets stored them until the next parade as my grandfather remembered) and you will have a very worn painted helmet.

 

Just my two cents and I am sorry I rambled on so long!

 

Wade

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