JR 88 Officer Helmet


Staff member
Another helmet I have been working on from JR 88. This job was supposed to be a "simple fix a depressed shell top" so the spike fits properly. Unfortunately, there can be surprises with 100 year old leather and shellac finish. Originally as you will see there were some bubbles in the finish, however, by my wetting the area most of the finish on the top of the shell loosened and had to be peeled off. So, now we are into a major refinish job. Some photos:
It looked pretty simple in the beginning.
These creases in the shell are hard to fix but we are going to give it a try.
And then things get a bit more difficult....!
All pieces of original finish were saved as much as possible.
Why?? Because we are going to use them.
All "bald areas" have to be sanded before new finish is applied. This roughens the surface so that the new finish will stick better. More pictures to follow.


Active member
Brian, WOW, that is some peeling of the shellac finish. Is that due to the top of the helmet getting crushed? It looks as if there is a rip in the leather shell.
I look forward to your progress in the restoration of this old pickelhaube.


Staff member
No John, the top of the shell was not crushed, it had sunk in due to the weight of the spike. The only cure for this is to wet that area and push it back into position by blocking it on a head form. Unfortunately, this caused most of the shellac finish to bubble up off the shell. There was a dent in the side of the helmet, which came close to piercing the shell and looks like a rip in the photo. This series of pictures was taken about 8 weeks ago and I am still working on the piece. Refin takes time! 😀
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Well-known member
Great idea to reuse the shellac. Do you prepare it like normal shellac just with some alcohol or does it need some other ingredients? Looking forward to see the final result :)


Staff member
I am using the 1877 shellac formula that you discovered Sandy. I have applied it to the shell and then stuck small pieces of the old finish on to it. I will post some photos. Tony I will be posting a comparison of 4 Oldenburg Wappen including the one from this helmet in the wappen section today.


Staff member
As promised, more photos of the process:
I am trying two things here...in the dented/creased areas, I am gluing bits of old finish in order to fill in. On the left side of the helmet shown here, I have left a large section to be filled with shellac as there was no crease. On the other side of the shell, again where there was a dent I am filling in with new shellac and old pieces of original finish. The areas where old finish flakes are used have to be sanded quite often. The idea is to fill in around the old finish pieces with new shellac, keep sanding until everything is filled in and we have a smooth surface once again.
This picture was taken this week and you can see, how slowly but surely, with countless applications, the new shellac is filling in around the old flakes. I have done used method before on an Officer tschapka so I know it works! (y) After sanding the shellac dust is melted back into the finish using shellac thinner and we are ready for another application.
This side had more problems, so more pieces of original finish were used. You can see where I am using them to fill in a dent above the rosette hole.


Active member
Brian you have the patience of a Saint - and the skills of an alchemist! Thanks for showing us this process, it is inspiring.