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TonyTheTortoise

Bavarian Picklehaube

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I bought this picklehaube from the SOS in Louisville this year. From what I know it’s a 1915 EM Bavarian. It’s extremely small and I git it for an amazing prize compared to all the other ones at the show. It was pretty rough and that was probably why it was priced so well and the guy gave me a even better deal because I had bought a M16 from him the year before. He said the guy before him had found it and it had been stored with a cover ( you can see indents from the cover clasps) and the seller did not know what had happened the the cover. The climate and heat had gotten to the lather and caused awful crazing. When I bought it the outer lacquer finish was falling off in my hands when I held it. The seller said that it would be wise to scrape it off and apply a black High shine shoe polish to the Leather to protect it. I went ahead with it and it came out pretty good (at least in my head). I don’t ever plan on selling it so I wasn’t worried about destroying the $ value. All I wanted to do was preserve it for my collection. The liner is original I believe but I could be wrong, I know that he put a shoe lace in the liner holes to hold them together. It has a name on the inside and on the outside and I’m pretty sure they are the same. I can’t quite figure it out but none the less it’s very cool. It is missing the cockades and the chinstrap but I thought I did good on it. The question is that did I mess up by doing this and does it seem legit?

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Very nice Tony! I do believe the liner is original, the cockades and chinstrap can still be found, but it may take some time if you want to get original items. Fakes can be easily obtained. I would try to preserve the leather, I use pecard antique leather dressing, it moisturizes the old leather without darkening it too much. Also used newspaper to stuff inside the liner area to help hold its shape. I would recommend also storing inside cabinet, or container to keep animals and bugs away. I am sure Fritz will add some useful information as well. 

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Vey nice helmet, even if not in top condition, at least it has kept it's form, that is the advantage of smaller helmets. The lining looks absolutely original and in reasonable condition, if a little darkened. The fittings still have a lot of the original grey finish, so do not polish these! Look out for a maker's stamp and date inside the crown of the helmet. There may also be a unit stamp on the inside of the neck guard, which has darkened somewhat. A soft brush would remove some of the dust and grime. As most of the lacquer has gone from the outside, a good treatment with a black shoe polish can be attempted. If you can't get an original strap, perhaps you can get original fittings somewhere and make yourself a strap with a suitable brown leather, which you would have to stitch. Better to get orginal cockades, the Imperial cockade can still be found, a Bavarian cockade might be more difficult to find, this should have a matt silver finish with a blue ring.
See some of my previous posts on headdress for ideas.
Note: The Bavarian cockade is worn on the left side of the helmet, the imperial on the right. See photos in other articles on this subject.
Another note on precaution, take care that the stitching of the peaks does not break away, and the thread becomes very frail, especially if there has been a poor individual storage history. A collection of these helmets should also be kept away from sunlight or heat.
Keeping the helmet on a stand will also help to take the strain off the front and back peaks, as otherwise the stitching may break in time.
If the stitching does break and the peaks get loose, they would have to be very carefully stitched back on using a strong needle and shoemaker's thread of a decent thickness, this is usually waxed linen garn, the colour may be black, brown or white, you can blacken it later with shoe cream. The stitching should not go through the liner! The original stitch holes should be followed and no new ones made.  I have re-stitched helmet peaks in quite a few cases, it is not as hard as it sounds.

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100_3371.JPG

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The back peak was only held by the back spine, all the stitching had broken...

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This is a helmet, on which I completely restitched the back peak 

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The light brown stitching here is clearly visible, this was after re-stitching. It can be easily blackened over.

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The helmet plate should be attached by two leather strips as in photo - the leather is a remake.

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the blue thread is only an indicator, not the garn I used. A suitable needle should be used.

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Chinstrap also remade, using a suitable leather - leather was never black, always natural brown, blackened, if at all on the outside.  This turned out slightly too long and too slack, so it had to be slightly shortened for a proper neat fit, the buckles should be relatively close together - and not wide apart as seen on many repro examples.

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Whereas on pre-war helmets, the strap was blackened, it was usually a chocolate brown on the grey-metal helmets. This is the finished product, but the brown would have to be toned down a little. Cockades are here hand-painted repros, but satisfactory till originals can be found.

Damage to the finish could be repaired using shellac and a soldering iron, but this would require a lot of skill. It is sometimes better to leave it, or just simply use black polish to cover some of the blemishes.

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Sometimes there may be a unit stamp and issue date (1916)

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Tears or damage to the leather tongues can be repaired by reinforcing these with a piece of suitable leather, gluing it from behind with a shoemaker's glue, when it has set, this can be trimmed around the original with ordinary scissors.

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You could. Better is a non-plastic material, such as an old hat stand, or perhaps you could make something, this should fill out the circumferance of the helmet and not put pressure on a single point, as in time, the leather will change shape. Smaller helmets are not as problematic as larger ones, or officer's examples, which are much thinner leather. For the moment, until you find something better, the foam head would do for a while. Collector's markets do offer certain accessories, such as helmet stands, which are  of plexiglass and not too expensive, I haven't tried these myself, but some collectors and possibly museums use these.

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They should be iron with a grey finish. There are bound to be some good copies on the market somewhere. A lot of the sliding buckle copies are square shaped, not correct, they should be rectangular, you will also need the end parts, which attach to the side posts on the helmet. These parts can also be made, they would have to be cut out of sheet iron in the correct thickness, there are also a few people around, who have made these, you would need the right tools. Ask around at collector's fairs. The cockades are made of iron, these would have to be professionally pressed.

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Note: This is a Prussian cockade (black and white on right), the Bavarian has  different colours

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I’m gonna look for some original fittings for the chinstrap. Do you have any recommendations on the cockades. Should I buy some rusty original one without any paint and restore them? Or should I buy some repros and take the paint off and repaint them?

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I would only slightly retouch originals, if anything. Repros are ok for temporary, you can paint and replace these at any time. The Bavarian cockade should have a bright matt silver finish with a blue ring. You could overcoat the iron with a slightly toned matt clear varnish, and then paint the blue ring.

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The leather should be about 1 mm thick, natural cowhide, width is as the fittings. As I stated before, a waxed linnen shoemaker thread - you could get some of these materials at a traditional shoemaker supplier, the width of the leather should be exactly 15 mm.

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The length depends on the size of the helmet. You would need a length of leather about double the size of the distance around from one sidepost to the other. Repro straps on the market are usually one size, and usually too short.

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The last repro chinstrap I bought was too large, I had to cut some off and re-sew the ends. Just FYI.

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Typically you would measure the inside diameter of the helmet. 

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Finding original covers can be tough, I have seen them in the range of $150-250. But there are excellent fakes out there, that have been artificially aged and soiled to look original. If you are going to buy one, use a legitimate seller who offers an inspection period and returns. It may cost more to do it this way, but less chance of you getting burned. 

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Finding the right type of cover may be difficult - covers usually start at around 200 Euros or more - but these are nearly always officers covers, not suitable for this type.
The new 1915 cover to match had a separate spike for obvious reasons, such examples do turn up occasionally, but sometimes the spike part is missing. The other ranks version should have hooks at front and back - the officer's type don't have these, but a flap at front and rear which fits behind the peaks. Covers may be found with or without numbers, often missing, as these were removed at times, due to field orders. Up till Summer 1914, the numbers were bright red, afterwards green. Guard's regiments wore no numbers. The field covers were introduced in 1892, the numbers in 1897.
See my article in the helmet section about field covers, with several examples.

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Very nice, this cockade looks good - it is an "Extra" example for senior NCOs*, the blue ring is attached and with a cardboard disc backing - this could be worn on your Pickelhaube, however, note, the fitting may be a little tight due to the card fitting, but you could give it a try. The cockade itself is probably a 1914 example, the side lugs on the helmet would be slightly higher (only a fraction) to accomodate this. I had an identical example years ago, which I fitted to a Bavarian fieldgrey helmet similar to your example. As I mentioned, I would give it a try. If the cockade does not practically fit, it is still good as an example and a keepsake, which might be usefull for another later acquisition.
It also has a nice matt silver finish. Note, officers' helmets always have such a card disc at the rear of the cockades. Will post some pictures at a later stage.

* senior NCOs = Vizefeldwebel and Feldwebel - they would also have been issued with this type of helmet, so the cockade would be ok
- some of the senior NCOs also wore a private purchase helmet that closely resembled an officer helmet, but with certain marginal differences.

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I would say go for it, if it's reasonably priced, these don't come up very often. 

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