Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

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Mike H
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Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Sat Jun 29, 2019 9:53 am

Gentlemen,

I have seen a few examples of Pickelhauben in friends' collections that are mint and unworn and are covered with what appears to be a talcum powder coating. I was told they came from the manufacturer like this.

What is the story with the powder? What was its purpose? An example shown below.

Mike

061011-76.jpg

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by b.loree » Sat Jun 29, 2019 12:55 pm

I have never heard that story before and I have been collecting hauben since the 1980’s. There are private purchase Officer helmets where the shell is made of lacquered felt and the visors stitched on. Any talc powder in my opinion might be some sort of chemical reaction after 100 years. At the same time, we all know here that this area of collecting is full of surprises.
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by 911car » Sat Jun 29, 2019 2:23 pm

b.loree wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 12:55 pm
I have never heard that story before and I have been collecting hauben since the 1980’s. There are private purchase Officer helmets where the shell is made of lacquered felt and the visors stitched on. Any talc powder in my opinion might be some sort of chemical reaction after 100 years. At the same time, we all know here that this area of collecting is full of surprises.
Brian,
You can indeed encounter, albeit rarely, as-new Pickelhauben with this white powdery coating. For instance, Kai Winkler had for sale an absolutely mint, unworn Bavarian Fahnrich helmet with the same appearance, which he described as "Talkumschicht" (talc coating). Helmut Weitze had a new-looking Reuss Einjahrige Freiwilliger helmet with, apparently, remnants of the same stuff. Talc has multiple uses, as you know, notably as a water-repellent protection and lubricant on various surfaces, rubber, garments... All helmets I saw with this appearance where as new, and never of the enlisted type. Presumably, talc was used as a protectant on helmets to be kept in storage... although I have no direct proof from the period that it was the case!

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:13 pm

Quite an interesting discussion. One of my dealer friends, who has a spectacular Imperial collection, told me these are the Pickelhauben he looks for. With the white powdery look. Here are some other images of other helmets. One was on Weitze's site and I got there too late to buy it.

Mike

2019-06-04 23.31.16.jpg

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:15 pm

And another from my advanced collector friend.

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JB060911-376.jpg

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:17 pm

If you look at other photos of these two helmets, they are both stone-mint, unworn condition. I can't imagine too many of these surviving decades of handling, moving, and owners messing with them.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by b.loree » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:37 am

Very interesting, I have learned something new. There are always surprises in this hobby. I suppose the talc was used to absorb humidity much like those small packets of crystals which we always find in new electronics, cameras etc. I have never encountered an as new helmet.
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by aicusv » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:37 am

I've always assumed that these were war time made pieces and the "talcing" was to reduce the reflectiveness of the helmet. Are the bodies of these helmets leather or fiber?
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by 911car » Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:21 pm

aicusv wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:37 am
I've always assumed that these were war time made pieces and the "talcing" was to reduce the reflectiveness of the helmet. Are the bodies of these helmets leather or fiber?
Those I was referring to were leather with flat black finish, and dated 1912 and 1913.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by alte helm zimmer » Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:13 pm

As I remember- it is also called pralinenn - in Germany (sp?)- is similar to what happens to chocolate- when it is kept too long- developing a whitish coating and it can ( sometimes ) be scraped off using your finger nail to reveal a shiny surface- but would you want to??? Yes. it is usually found on mint self purchased helmets. Randolpho AHZ

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Arran » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:35 pm

These helmets were shiny when new, but have developed this look not through wear (hence their minty condition) but through environmental conditions. If the mounts are removed, such as the spike base, you will see that the matte finish does not continue underneath. Furthermore, the matte rarely forms on the visors, or on non-leather helmets...
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Spiker » Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:55 am

I have in my collection , a soldiers unused helmet that also turned dull like an old praline,
but I don’t know if that is the same thing that happened to the officer helmet above.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by LangeKerl » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:22 am

To me it is certainly an environmental matter, and present because the helmets have not been handled much over the years. No natural oils were introduced to the leather.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Spiker » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:27 am

The most mint helmets are one year voluntaries , I think when a helmet was never intensively kept shining , it became vulnerable for mold . If mold is left alone , it will ruin the surface .It's funny that those helmets are now the most wanted , after all ,the leader pickelhaube was always meant to shine.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by LangeKerl » Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:45 am

I agree. Your photo above my last post clearly presents some sort of mold which is present on the leather. No different than the mold on many leather field gear items.

I have a mint M1860 officer (Lippe Detmold) Pickelhaube with no such mold.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:53 am

Hello, Willi -- and all.

This has been a great discussion. I queried a German dealer who has a Pickelhaube with this powdery look a few days ago and he finally responded with this statement:

"The talkum was used to keep the leather soft, I'm sure all makers do it."

However, that is in contradiction to some of the other posts here as well as this from yet another advanced collector:

"I'm confident it is not talcum powder, I heard this before and find no validity to it. It is some type of environmental effect. Mold may not be the best description but may also be why the dealers call it talcum 😊. Hard to sell items with mold. I've bought many leather belts and ammo pouches etc. stored in moist areas that develop the same effect."

I do find some credibility to the statement that few sellers would want to call it "mold". A dealer friend also said he has many of the original boxes for these helmets and none have a trace of talcum.

Mike

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Arran » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:38 pm

I don't believe its a true mold, which you would think would spread to the visors, no? I think its related to the thickness of lacquer and the leather its on when exposed to certain conditions of temperature and humidity. Interestingly, if you expose helmets like those above to heat (as in a hair dryer), the whiteness will disappear, although the smoothness of the finish is not restored...
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Arran » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:47 pm

Furthermore, this: "The talkum was used to keep the leather soft, I'm sure all makers do it." makes absolutely no sense! Who wants a helmet to be made of soft leather, and additionally, how is the "talc" supposed to penetrate the lacquer to the point of even affecting the leather? And does talc even have the effect of softening leather? I doubt it. What we need is to find a surviving helmet with this finish that also has a CdV of it being worn in a mint, shiny condition!
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by pickelhauben » Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:28 pm

I have a EM wartime shako with gray eagle( minty inside and out unworn) and when I received it , it had this finish .
I hit it with windex and wiped it down with paper towels and it went away.
Probably should have kept it as is.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by LangeKerl » Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:39 pm

I agree mold is not the correct term for what we are talking about. And I agree that such a substance offers no protection to any leather it is present on.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by SkipperJohn » Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:56 pm

Could it be a chemical residue left in the leather from the tanning process that, after a 100 years, has finally migrated out to the surface?
Just a thought.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Spiker » Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:00 am

Arran wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:38 pm
I don't believe its a true mold, which you would think would spread to the visors, no?
If it is mold … (but I’m just guessing)
I would sooner believe the opposite, there are two things mold likes, moist and darkness.
A lacquered surface does not hold moist. , untreated leader does.
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Tony without Kaiser » Fri Jul 05, 2019 8:54 am

Spiker wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:27 am
//It's funny that those helmets are now the most wanted , after all ,the leader pickelhaube was always meant to shine.//
Not wanted by everyone. I consider Pickelhauben with this lacquer deterioration to be ruined. I will never have one in my collection.
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Stirnpanzer » Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:21 am

I had some WWII A2 Jackets stored away for years ...
One developed the "White powder" effect ... And it wasn't new when i put it away ..

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by b.loree » Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:14 pm

I would just like to add here that with lacquer/shellac, we are dealing with a natural product produced by an insect, the female Lac bug largely found in a special type of tree growing in India. Consequently, I tend to think that we are talking about some sort of chemical reaction, a clouding of the natural lacquer produced by storage conditions. If it was mold it would smell moldy/musty. I also would not want one of these in my collection as original hauben even M15's were patent leather shiny not the dull opaque finish we see in this example. I would also venture the opinion that most of this issue has been "clouded" by dealers trying to sell hauben in great shape but with this ruined finish. My opinion....
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by LangeKerl » Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:28 pm

A very pragmatic and helpful opinion!

As stated by several; I too would not own one.

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Sandmann » Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:34 pm

It could be something called “fatty spue“. It is a reaction of residual fat from the leather due to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. The results look very similar and also the point that it disappears when heated sounds plausible.

Here a Link to Leather-Dictionary.com with an explanation and leather tipps:
https://www.leather-dictionary.com/inde ... on_leather
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Sat Jul 06, 2019 6:56 pm

Here is one Kai is offering ...
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by joerookery » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:22 am

Now that was a fantastic discussion!
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:17 am

I agree!

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by b.loree » Sun Jul 07, 2019 1:55 pm

Hmmm......"Fatty Spue" a new phrase to add to my vocabulary! I wonder though, how I will be able to work that into "cocktail conversation" over a nice glass of Merlot or Cab Sauv?? :D Mike, your avatar reminds me to announce here that I am in need of an officer Garde Stern to complete a neusilber officer wappen I have in my collection.
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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Sandmann » Mon Jul 08, 2019 4:40 am

b.loree wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 1:55 pm
Hmmm......"Fatty Spue" a new phrase to add to my vocabulary! I wonder though, how I will be able to work that into "cocktail conversation" over a nice glass of Merlot or Cab Sauv?? :D Mike, your avatar reminds me to announce here that I am in need of an officer Garde Stern to complete a neusilber officer wappen I have in my collection.
It‘s one of these knowledge what is nice to know but you can‘t shine with :D
Best wishes, Sandy

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by SkipperJohn » Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:50 am

Great thread!
I learned a lot from this. I wonder if there is a way to reverse the process and return the helmet to it's original finish.

John :)

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:54 pm

I’ve been wondering the same. Can they be cleaned and returned to high gloss?

Mike

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by badener » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:16 pm

Very entertaining and informative thread.
It must be a Bavarian. They always smell the worst!

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:04 am

Can anyone provide an answer to my question regarding cleaning? Much appreciated. In the collector world I came from, cleaning was verboten or highly frowned upon. But I get the impression that in Pickelhaube collecting, this is acceptable. Tony has an excellent article on it on his website.

Mike

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Sandmann » Tue Jul 09, 2019 12:51 pm

I would not do more than Tony explained at his Website. Personally, I prefer some patina.
I In terms of the Helmets which look like coated with white powder, I would not try to clean it or rub the layer off. It would be too dangerous to disfigure the Helmet completely.
Best wishes, Sandy

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Re: Mint, unworn Pickelhauben with Talcum Powder

Post by Mike H » Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:40 pm

Thanks for the advice, Sandy. I would tend to agree with you. Same with daggers, etc -- the patina is something you come to love.

Mike

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