German-Helmets.com  - The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

    Quick Helps: Care and Preservation

Photo:  M1940 helmet prior to application of light coat of wax

Care and Preservation

Many people seeking information on German helmets are interested in finding safe methods by which they can "preserve" their helmets without damaging them.  This is particularly true of those people who wish to "restore" an old helmet without changing its value or overall look.  Among collectors there seems to be two different schools of thought regarding the need to 'clean-up' or improve the look of an original German helmet.  While all collectors agree that collections should be maintained to some degree or another, there are differing opinions regarding how to go about it and whether or not a helmet should have anything done to it that might change its original appearance.  Collectors seem to be clustered into two different groups regarding philosophy of preservation and care. 

A simplified understanding of what collectors often believe can be characterized as follows:

Opinion One:  "Leave a helmet just the way you found it -- no matter what.  Never do anything to it."

This is the current and prevailing attitude among advanced collectors.  This concept holds that a helmet should never be altered, changed, or cleaned in any form whatsoever even if found with dirt, dust, and cobwebs.  Collectors of this mindset hold that a helmet should be left 'as is' to preserve its historical condition (and value).  This is true even if there is the potential that the helmet will continue to deteriorate in its current state.  Collectors who follow this practice tend to believe that any helmet that has been modestly cleaned has been postwar altered and is potentially less valuable than one that has original dirt and dust left intact.  The general reason for maintaining this attitude is to preserve the value of the helmet in 'just as it was found' condition.

Opinion Two:  "Do some minor cleaning -- but only if the helmet is in danger of being damaged in its current state."

This collector mindset holds that an original helmet should be modestly cleaned if there are elements about the helmet that indicate damage has already been done or will continue as a result of natural conditions.  Essentially a collector with this belief subscribes to the concept that dirt should be removed from the helmet to prevent rust or paint loss, parts can be interchanged if correct to the time period (and only if authentic), and that some conservation efforts are worthwhile if the helmet is to be stored or maintained for a long period of time.

While both concepts have merit, it does seem reasonable and prudent to modestly clean a helmet if it is in need of some basic care.  However, doing so is rarely needed and most helmets need basically no treatment whatsoever.

Most collectors prefer to do nothing at all to their helmets and simply leave them as found.  If in doubt, this is always the best course of action since no permanent damage can be done. 

    Preservation Main Topics

Rules for Care

Rusty Surfaces

Dry & Cracking Decals

Leather Care

Leather Balms

    Quick Helps

Appraisals

Combat Helmet Types

Glossary

Quick ID Charts

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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