Cache of German Helmets Found

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Catch22, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,562
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Graphic Designer
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Home Page:
    Cache of Dreams: Thousands of German-made helmets discovered in Finland

    It isn’t possible to know what treasures might be found in the thousands of recently acquired helmets. Christian Cramner, president of International Military Antiques, said he is confident, though, it was the “last big cache” of German helmets waiting to be discovered.

    by Peter Suciu

    Every helmet collector who has seen photos of piles of German helmets from the end of the Second World War has likely said, “If only I could have grabbed a few of those helmets!” Of course, those piles of helmets have long since melted, crushed or otherwise destroyed. Piles of such helmets exist only in photographs now.

    And yet, every so often, caches of militaria – including helmets – are discovered. One such example occurred this past summer when Christian Cranmer, president and founder of New Jersey-based International Military Antiques, was able to work a deal to acquire just such a stash—of German-made helmets!

    While it is likely that many of these didn’t actually see service on the heads of Wehrmacht soldiers, the massive “cache of dreams” includes thousands of wartime helmets produced in Germany for its then war-time ally, Finland. This stock most certainly includes combat helmets that saw service on the Russian Front.

    Cranmer acquired the helmet from a Finnish military surplus dealer, who had been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and bought the helmets from the Finnish government about a decade ago. Since that time, the helmets were in storage in neighboring Estonia. After making the deal, the helmets were shipped to the United States this past summer and were made available for sale from IMA.

    This helmet hoard is not Cranmer’s first big score. For the past 40 years, he’s been a treasure hunter combing the world looking for hidden caches. His first big score came in 1971 when he found 44,000 German K98 bayonets that he paid just $0.29 a piece to acquire. In 2003, Cranmer found 55,000 antique firearms in Nepal.

    HOW THE HELMETS ENDED UP IN FINLAND

    Finland, which had gained its independence from the Russian Empire following the downfall of Czar Nicholas II in 1917, had fought three bitter wars to retain that independence from 1939 to 1945. The first was against the Soviet Union in the brutal Winter War of 1939-45, when Joseph Stalin looked to expand his sphere of influence.

    While the Finns put up a good fight, and even had an offer of assistance from Great Britain and the France, the might of the Soviet Union was too much for the Nordic nation. Peace was settled in March 1940, with territory ceded to the Soviets. This peace did not to last.

    Finland joined with Germany following the latter’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. This resulted in the Continuation War (1941-44), during which the Finns looked to settle scores. With the tide turning against Germany and her allies, Finland exited the Axis. In the brief Lapland War, Finns attempted to expel the German military from their homeland.



    Throughout WWII, massive amounts of foreign helmets flowed to Finland from its Axis allies. These included helmets of vanquished nations including Czechoslovakia, Poland and versions of the German helmet from Hungary.

    What collector hasn’t dreamed of opening big crates of German-made helmets? Christian Cranmer, president and founder of International Military Antiques realized this dream this past summer.

    “There is a mix of M38 Hungarian helmets in what we acquired,” said Alexander Cranmer, vice president of International Military Antiques (IMA). “I estimate that maybe 20 percent or so are M38 helmets of what I’ve pulled out so far.”

    The vast majority are what IMA considers to be M40/55 helmets – as these are German produced helmets, but include reworked Finnish liners. IMA estimates about 10 percent of these helmets have German WWII-era stamps in the shells. The rest are likely postwar-supplied helmets from West Germany. According to Cranmer, all are German-made from the wartime era, regardless of when Finland received them.

    The recently discovered helmets are a mix of M38 Hungarian helmets and German-produced M40/55 helmets.

    “These were made in the same factories on the same machines and likely by the same people who supplied helmets for the German military,” Cranmer told Military Trader. “We’re selling these for $89.95, so the thinking is that the buyer gets a German-made shell but with a Finnish post-war liner for the same price or even less than a modern reproduction made in China or India.”

    Sizes of the helmets of the M40 versions are typically in the 62 and 64 sized shells, which accounts for about 20 percent of the total cache, while the vast majority (80 percent) are the apparent post-war versions appear to be 66 size shells, but otherwise have, what Cranmer says, “The same profile with the roled edge.”

    Whether these were made post-war or were WWII-era helmets refurbished by the West Germans is now the topic of debate among the staff at IMA. Christian Cranmer’s line of thinking is that West Germany wasn’t allowed to deal in military equipment. Therefore, the helmets were sanitized—stripped of any stamps or other markings—and then sold to Finland. The other notable fact is that many helmets are unquestionably WWII-era, featuring German stamps and a range of paint colors and shades with various Finnish grays and greens and even some German greens mixed in.

    About 10% of the shells in the recent cache have German WWII-era stamps. The rest are likely postwar-supplied helmets originating in the former West Germany.

    Collectors shouldn’t hope to win the lottery by buying these and trying to strip the paint hoping to find German decals underneath. “It is not impossible with some of them, as they look like haven’t been touched since they went into battle in 1944,” said Cranmer. “But I want to be honest and say that it is very unlikely there is original paint under what you see. I won’t say, ‘impossible,’ but we’re selling these for what they are: Finnish-used helmets.”

    So does this mean this is the last great cache? Not likely, as the Cranmers have learned after all the years in business there is always more treasure to find. While this may have opened the door for other military items from Finland, this is likely the end of the line for those hoping to see piles of German-made helmets.

    “Well, we have thousands,” said Cranmer, “but this is truly the last stock in the world of helmets like this.”

    Christian and Alexander Cranmer can be seen in the National Geographic Channel reality series, “Family Guns.”

    Peter Suciu has collected helmets for 30 years. He is of Finnish descent on his mother’s side.

    __________________________________________________

    We bought one. I don't know exactly what it'll turn out to be, but the price is good so we'll see!

    I don't know if it's allowed to link where to buy them, but I'll remove the link if it isn't kosher.

    Military Antiques, Military Collectibles and Militaria Original German M40 WWII Type Steel Helmet- Finnish M40/55 Contract IMA-USA.COM
     
  2. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    6,688
    Likes Received:
    252
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Occupation:
    plumbing "pro" at Lowes in Franklin N.C.
    Location:
    north carolina
    I gotta have one to go with my Pickelhaube!
     
  3. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Messages:
    7,905
    Likes Received:
    189
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    IT Nerd
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx Jubail, Saudi Arabia
    Interesting!!!! It sure isn't as much as I thought it would be.
     
  4. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,562
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Graphic Designer
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Home Page:
    Yeah, I think it's due to the lack of decals and the way the liners are set up. The cost will go up for sure, but you're looking at $1000+ for a German helmet with original decal on it.
     
  5. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,734
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Helsinki
    #5 Juha, Dec 29, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
    Discovered? I carried one through my compulsory military service in mid 70s and SA/Int (the Finnish Army) at last declared them surplus in 2006, all 70.000+ of them. Even before the beginning of the Winter War (30 Nov 39) we had acquired some 95.000 German made helmets.

    Juha
     
  6. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,767
    Likes Received:
    684
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    #6 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Dec 29, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
    It has nothing to do with the lacking of decals or anything like that. They are simply not "German" helmets.

    The reason these are so cheap is because they are not actually WW2 helmets. They were produced under contract for the Finnish Army in 1955 and imported to Finland in 1955. That is also why the are called M40/55 helmets. They were produced by the same manufacturer that made them during WW2, and are German made, but they are not "original WW2 M40 helmets".

    The company selling these, tries to make it seem as if you are getting a real German "combat Stahlhelm". Not so though...

    Here are the key words in the whole advertisement:

    "This is a rare chance to own a genuine military issue German made M40 WWII style helmet for the almost the same price as a Chinese or Indian made reproduction. There is simply no comparison to a genuine combat helmet!"

    A serious collector as myself would never buy them as "original WW2" helmets. I am not saying they are not neat to have, but don't think they are the real thing. Original German M40s go for several hundreds of dollars (and even thousands of dollars depending on the decals).

    Also...

    Warning to novice collectors!

    The majority of the German militaria on that site, are replicas and fakes!


    This thread however has got the collector in me yearning to buy a new German uniform or artifact for my collection. Now just to convince the wife...:lol:
     
  7. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,734
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Helsinki
    On helmets used by the Finnish Army see: Kypärät

    Finns ordered 50.000 M/55 helmets.

    Juha
     
  8. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,866
    Likes Received:
    562
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Toronto
    "... yearning to buy a new German uniform or artifact for my collection. Now just to convince the wife..:

    No. Think cabin .. cABIN ... CABIN .... wood stove not hemet ... :)

    MM
     
  9. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,562
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Graphic Designer
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Home Page:
    :lol: Chris, the boss here isn't too pleased that I noticed these. I'm very glad you chimed in because I know you are knowledgable. What my dad and I really want is an M40 with at least the eagle decal on it in somewhat visible shape but you're right, they're just so expensive, so wee saw these and said what the heck. I did pick up an M40 used by the Norwegians, and it has the German liner etc, and you can see where the original decals have been removed and new ones added, and even that was $200 on a discount. We he also inherited an MP40 my grandfather seized in a police raid in the 70s that he somehow managed to keep, but the gun laws here are such that it'll be tricky to finagle getting it even though it doesn't fire.
     
  10. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Messages:
    20,140
    Likes Received:
    54
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Washington State
    Interesting. The slant numeric value is common in the gun collecting world too. Mitchell's Mausers does the same thing with some 1947 Yugoslav Mausers. The guns were made with German tooling and are very nice/shootable weapons, but as Adler noted about the helmet, these particular rifles are definitely NOT German WWII items. Mitchell's doe sell authentic German Mausers (some even with death head SS stamps), but you are going to pay an arm and a leg to get one and if you were smart would never shoot it.
     
  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,767
    Likes Received:
    684
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    #11 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Dec 29, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
    The Cabin will not happen for a long time my friend. We would not build it here where we live. We need to get to Alaska, Montana, Washington or Colorado first.

    Here you go my friend. All authentic...

    Steel Helmets

    The artifacts here are a bit on the high end for price, but I have bought from them on a number of occasions, and have always received authentic artifacts.

    His prices for originals are still not bad. Originals in collector grade $399 to $549. Premium grade is $599 to $699. I might have to order one.
     
  12. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,562
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Graphic Designer
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Home Page:
    Thanks Chris, I'll have a look!
     
Loading...

Share This Page