A Convoluted Deal.


Well-known member
This is a long story, so get a cup of coffee, a beer or just don't bother reading it.
My wife, Sue, and I went to Germany to visit friends in Nordrhein Westfalen for three weeks, we returned home yesterday. While we were there, we took bike rides to local beir Gartens and such. On one occasion, the restaurant was next to a store that was filled with helmets! JACKPOT! Well, it turned out the 'store' was a man's private museum of non-military equipment and helmets. So, after asking, he gave us a tour of his very impressive collection that ranged from helmets and uniforms to rolling equipment and beer steins. At the end, I looked at one of the helmets, a Bavarian reservist helmet, which looked to be for an NCO type of war-time construction with a vulcan fiber body and oil cloth / fabric liner. I didn't look at it too long, but asked the man if it was for sale and he replied he preferred trades... which means a lot of negotiating and my German isn't outstanding. I told him I preferred an asking price and my host, Werner, left his phone number with the man.
After we got home, it dawned on me that there was no Bavarian unit with this type of helmet... I'd been mixed up as I looked at it thinking it was from a certain type of unit, but the plate was mismatched. Here's the helmet, which I photoed through the window.

View attachment 1

The odd thing about this helmet is that the plate fits like a glove and looks to be 100% original. I wonder if it's from a unit I couldn't identify (I was thinking Schwere Reiter, but was wrong), or perhaps for use in the field beneath an Uberzug, where the plate wouldn't matter? Was it a veteran's who no longer cared about the proper plate? Or, was it a replacement plate?

The next day I emailed the man (in proper German with Werner's help) to tell him I wasn't very interested in the Bavarian helmet, but if he had an asking price for a Prussian artillery helmet that was on the same table, I would be interested in that one. The following morning, the man called while we were out walking the dog and Werner called him back on the speaker phone. He said the helmet (I figured artillery, as I'd emailed him) was of little value to him and he was willing to 'Give it away'. So, we asked his price. At first, I thought he said his asking price as €950, "Did he say '950'?" I asked Werner. It was a great price for a 100% great helmet, but was more than I was able to pay (I was spending enough money just doing what we were doing!). Then, when Werner asked him to repeat the price and he said €50. FIFTY? We asked and he said yes. So we sealed the deal with a loose promise and set up a meeting to buy the helmet.

When the time arrived, I had gone to the city center and purchased some cotton gloves to handle the artillery helmet with and a fabric bag to carry it in. Needless to say, I was excited. I hadn't purchased ANY helmet for that little since the 1970's. At the man's establishment, the Bavarian helmet was set out on a table and I was a bit confused, but he said he hadn't received my email, so I decided that for €50, this was still an excellent deal. Then it happened. He'd done some research and under the helmet was a piece of paper with a photo of a Bavarian infantry officer's helmet with the auction price of €1,598 listed. The price was suddenly €950 for the helmet (had he heard me on the phone and changed his mind? We never found out and it didn't matter, although he seemed to be a very honest man). So then it was my turn. In my best German, I explained the differences between the helmet on hand and the one in the auction; color of trim, chin scales, mismatched plate, etc. In the end, I told him I wasn't interested in the helmet with the mixed fittings for that much, but was still interested in the artillery helmet.
He replied that he was told the artillery helmet was a Beamte type and after some explanation, he agreed it was Prussian artillery, but that the man who'd donated it to his collection still stopped in and looked at it 'touching it and just admiring it', he said. The man who had owned the helmet was from the city we were staying in and it seems that it originally belonged to his grandfather.
So, in the end, with all said and done, there was no deal. Werner felt bad, but I explained that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is, especially in collecting. I couldn't blame the man for raising his price or US for mishearing him, but was still a bit angry at him for breaking what seemed to be the deal after stating it had been made. However, it was all water under the bridge. He knew about the Bavarian helmet and knew I was interested in the artillery, for which I'd gained first refusal. We parted on good terms.

Sue and I enjoyed our time with our friends, with good conversation, trips to local attractions as well as some 'overnighters' to Hamburg and Kulmbach, where one of my favorite beers, Mönchshof's, is brewed. At an indoor Flohmarkt, I found a nice stein commemorating reservists from the Kulmbach area (€3), as well as one at the brewery with a monk for a thumb lift. Fun stuff. We also toured Bamburg and had some Rauschbier (smoked bier). In the end, I was happy with my purchases and found boxes to pack them into my carry on luggage. My goal was to come one with one nice Bier Krug. I had found two.

On Monday, two days before we left Germany, the man called up and wanted to deal for the artillery helmet. He said that he'd considered all that had happened and wanted to offer the artillery helmet as its former owner was, sadly, suffering extreme dementia and would no longer come into his restaurant. He wanted my offer. Sadly, I had only 3 100€ notes left, so made that offer. It was too little of course. Then, he said he needed €550 for it. I think he knew it was a very low price, but he said I could pay the 300 and send him 250 when I got home, because he didn't want to have to ship it himself. Our answer was that I had to ask my wife and left the deal as it was as I went to count the other Euro bills I had in the stash. I found that we still had plenty left. So, now it was up to Sue.
When I told her about the deal, she said to buy the helmet without hesitation, so with another call and we set up a meeting for two hours later. This time, the deal went through and everybody (especially me) was happy. He signed a bill of sale for the purchase price and even put his official store stamp on it with his name and address. It was time to construct a nice strong box to place it in my carry-on with the steins and bring it all home.

Our return trip was flawless and the helmet arrived safely with us. Now, it's time to clean off the little bit of metal polish left on it by a well meaning, but misguided former owner, find a stand for it and place it on the shelf. I think it's been five years since the last helmet came into the collection and this one fills a space for a Fuß Artillery helmet. It's never been messed with and there are no markings on it that I could find. Other than the missing cross on the wappen's orb and a couple of scratches, it's very sound and will display nicely. All in all, it was the oddest and most interesting deal I've ever made.

There are more photos in the 'Latest Find' threads: https://www.pickelhaubes.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=12243

:D Ron


Well-known member
Thanks all!
I'm keeping in touch with the gentleman who sold it to me. He asked for photos of my collection, as he's shown me his, so I sent those off today. I'm also going to send him one of the artillery helmet on display, once it's dusted off. I also re-edited my narrative, because there were a few grammatical and descriptive errors. It's what happens when you try to write the day after a 23 hour trip home with 1.5 hours of sleep during the journey.

:D Ron


Staff member
Congratulations Ron, great story and thanks for posting. I have always thought that one of the best parts to collecting are the stories/experiences which are associated with every piece in our collections. I am sure that all of us here on the forum can look at every item in our collection and recall all of the circumstances connected to buying that piece of History.


Well-known member
A hard-earned helmet, Ron, but a very nice one. Congratulations for your perseverence and a great deal.


Well-known member
Thanks Edwin!

I found out yesterday that the seller actually didn't receive my emails. He had an address like [email protected] (Bob dash Bob dash Bob dot 'de'...) and I had addressed them [email protected] (Bob dash Bob dot Bob dot 'de')..... So who knows where they ended up! I've since sent some correspondence, showing him the helmet on display and some of my collection, since he shared his with us. I also found something he'd be interested in, so that'll be going to Germany soon.

:D Ron