5 Tips For Buying a German Helmet Online
Posted: November 23, 2011 | Author: WARSTUFF | Blog Post
The WW2 German helmet or ‘stahlhelm’ is one of the most recognisable militaria icons of 20th Century warfare. Made in millions, it is now one of the most sought after war relics on the market today. Here are our 5 tips to help you buy one online.
WARSTUFF Buy and Sell German Helmets
Some dealers would have you think identifying an original helmet is a black art. Actually, it’s less about identifying if the helmet is an original, its more about spotting the signs it is a reproduction being passed off as an original. This is of course complicated when buying online as you have limited information available, but assuming your seller is communicative you can always ask for more photos and more details of the item being sold. And a good tip is to have a set of example helmet pictures at the ready to compare your item to.
So in the pictures, what are you looking for? Every reproduction has signs of being repainted, assembled, altered or aged. Decals are available today as dry transfers, even with a manufactured aged look. Liners and chinstraps are available from Eastern Europe with all the correct markings. Add all of these to an original helmet shell, with some chemical aging techniques and you have a very convincing reproduction.
But with a great set of high-res pictures, a bit of common sense and background research, you will have a good chance of spotting even the best repros being passed off as an original. For example, a period liner and strap will have a paterna of use that could only come from living with the item, and an aging that could only take place over decades. Original liners and rivets should be tightly in place, and have an undisturbed look. Transfers may be the wrong size proportionally, or in the wrong place. The unit, type and paint colour on the helmet may not match your example pictures – if it’s a super rare item, then chances are it really is too good to be true. There are lots of clues even when you’re not holding the item.
Our advice to you is to do your research, get hold of a good set of example pictures, and go into an online sale informed of what to look out for and above all with some common sense.
2) See if you can get a guarantee of originality
Not every online seller will offer this, but it doesn’t do any harm to ask and you could be better off for it. Get the seller to grant you an inspection period during which you are free to return the helmet and get a refund if you are not satisfied with its originality. A week is usually enough, unless the shipping is international. Some sellers may offer returns by default, sometimes even offering a lifetime guarantee of originality. Great if you can get it, but if you can’t, and this will be the majority of cases, see point one – buyer beware. You’re not going to be able to return something if there is no guarantee or returns policy in place with the seller. So make sure you know what you are buying, and where you stand before you part with cash.
3) Do a valuation online, in advance
Self-valuations of German helmets have today, never been simpler. There are some great online valuation tools such as Worthpoint that aggregate prices from online marketplaces like eBay. Using these, you can easily estimate pricing based on searching out recent sales prices for similar items on marketplaces. And for free, you can always scan prices for items selling today on online marketplaces to see what the going rate is. You can also get a paid for valuation directly from a knowledgeable expert using online services. ValueMyStuff for example, offers a low cost valuations service. Send in a description and photos and you will get an expert opinion and price range. Being armed with a price range is key to making a smart German helmet purchase.
4) Check a sellers feedback and profile
Why is this important? What difference does the seller’s feedback score make to buying a German Helmet? Actually, it should make a considerable bit of difference to whether you are buying a repro or an original. The higher a seller’s feedback score, the more successful transactions they have concluded. This means that they are experienced with online auctions and have been around for quite some time. Even better if their feedback shows they have sold German helmets before and customers have been satisfied with what they have bought. Feedback provides a track record for the particular seller that helps you gauge what kind of buying experience you will have with them. Checking into the profile of a seller is also very important – they may use the same profile on other selling sites, they may be talked about on militaria forums, they may even have their own website that you can check out. Armed with the sellers details, Google is your friend.
5) Caveat emptor - buyer beware at all times
With online marketplaces taking more market share than traditional militaria markets and fairs, there has never been such a choice of German helmets all in one place. Sadly the number of fraudulent helmets sold on these online marketplaces is very high. We have heard a statistic that only 20% of German helmets sold on online auctions are unaltered originals. So, buyer beware at all times. This is not a principle to shield sellers who engage in fraud or bad faith dealing by making false or misleading representations about the quality or condition of their stock. It merely summarises that you, the buyer must examine, judge, and test the item considered for purchase on any evidence and information you have before you buy it. Doing your due diligence will save you hassle when a purchase goes wrong. And here is the golden rule – pay only what you can afford to lose.
So now you know our top five tips for buying a WW2 German Helmet, where do you go next? Visit our Buy pages of course and put those tips into practice.
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