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 Post subject: It all started with a single helmet
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:45 pm 
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Today I live in Michigan and I have about 450 helmets, uniforms, firearms, swords, spears and even a cannon! It all started back in 1981 when my great uncle Louis Suciu took me to the Lansing Michigan Military Collectible Show. I had always liked toy soldiers and played army and that sort of thing, but I didn't know you could "collect." The show seemed huge to me then as it was about 100 tables with helmets, uniforms and guns. He bought me a British MkII steel helmet that cost $5. That started me on collecting helmets. I had about 70 helmets by the time I was 18 and went off to college. I sold most of the first collection when I finished college and moved to New York City.

Gradually I bought swords, picked up some daggers and then I started buying helmets again during my trips to Europe. Unlike in the 1980s when I had to go to gun and knife shows, and had to buy from catalogs in the 1990s the Internet came along and that made the world much smaller. My wife liked the swords and hated the helmets at first. Now she's not a collector but she appreciates my collection (it is life insurance I guess too should something happen to me).

If anything, the only sad thing about the world being smaller is that I can go to London, Rome or Vienna and come home with books but no helmets. There aren't the old shops around, and what is there isn't anything I can't easily find online for much less. I did find a nice sun helmet in Paris in 2007 and I found some stuff in Panama City in 2012.

Most of the "good stuff" still comes from dealers, but I did find a German M16 helmet at an estate sale last year. The sale was run by my neighbors and they mentioned the helmet was at their current sale. I barely slept that night, got up early and was waiting when they arrived. The helmet was OK, the price was good and I kept it for a while but sold it to a friend. It convinced me to hit more estate sales. I find the majority to be a bust... either people line up so early that it takes the fun out of it, or the prices are outrageous.

The only really great find was the cannon my wife found in September. We knew it was at the sale. She had insomnia and lined up for the sale hours early, and was first to see it and said immediately "I'll take it." Those finds are far and few between.

The final part of the story is that my wife and I lived in New York City until 2010. For most of the years there I barely had more than a few shelves for my helmets. Then in 2008 we bought a large apartment and I had a whole room, but the market crashed, work dried up and we reconsidered staying in New York. Sadly in 2008 my great uncle also passed away. After considering our options in 2010 we moved to Michigan and renovated my great uncle's house. It is around the corner from my parents, so now I can help them out and I have about 1200 square feet for my collection. It continues to grow and is spread out in several rooms. It all started with that first helmet back in 1981. I don't have that helmet, but I have the memories of going to the shows with Lou, and I have the helmets and rifles he left me. I wish he could see my collection now... but I know he'd tell me I spent too much money.


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 Post subject: Re: It all started with a single helmet
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:20 am 
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Yup, it started for me with an M5 Flak Helmet ($2) from a surplus store when I was seven. After that, it was an M1 steel pot liner and a W. German Grenztruppe 'M35'... you know, rolled edge, but not crafted like the WWII models! Then I let it go until I saw a French WWI helmet in some stage props and found out it was bought at a local junk store. I went to look and came out with a French WWI & WWII (full liners, no badges); an English made US WWI helmet with camo' marked "AEF" and "FRANCE" with stamps under the paint (US WWI helmets were all painted post WWI by returning vets), an Italian WWII and a lead on some other helmets at an antique store. This was in 1977 and it's been 'game on' ever since. I'm down to about 200 total helmets from around 300 or so and am still slowly cutting back the steel types. I've collected steel from around the world, Tanker helmets and Pickelhaube, you know which I like best!

:D Ron

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 Post subject: Re: It all started with a single helmet
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 2:57 pm 
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My first piece of militaria was a WW1 British bayonet dated 1917. My mother bought it for me after we went into this Surplus store. I bugged and bugged until she finally bought it for $5, it came wrapped in paper and the blade was covered in cosmoline grease to prevent rust. I was 15 (1966) and I still have it. My first haube was a Prussian M15, the liner had red rot so once I found out there were helmets in better condition I used it as part trade/cash for another helmet.

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 Post subject: Re: It all started with a single helmet
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 9:30 am 
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b.loree wrote:
My first piece of militaria was a WW1 British bayonet dated 1917. My mother bought it for me after we went into this Surplus store. I bugged and bugged until she finally bought it for $5, it came wrapped in paper and the blade was covered in cosmoline grease to prevent rust. I was 15 (1966) and I still have it. My first haube was a Prussian M15, the liner had red rot so once I found out there were helmets in better condition I used it as part trade/cash for another helmet.


Yes, my first piece of militaria was also a British bayonet from WWI. A pile of these must have come over during the 1960's. I had a friend who's father was a tanker and had brought home a 76mm casing and such. This friend begged me not to start collecting military because 'it was all he had' to set him apart from other kids in the neighborhood. Well, that fell on deaf ears. My first Pickelhaube was piece of garbage as well and I tried to learn quickly after that. At the time $50 for a helmet was quite the chunk of change! My last helmet was that beautiful Kurassier from Joe. :)
I still have that first Pick', as a matter of fact I've every one I've ever gotten, but it serves as a form for a cover.

:D Ron

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