The Reality of International Purchases... Hannover M15 WATERLOO and US Customs

My most nerve racking experience was a purchase through eBay Kleinanzagen directly with an individual for a Bavarian Helmet.

First I fretted about having to do a bank transfer and waiting to hear that he had finally received it. Then the shipping. It seemed to be taking forever so I contact the seller again and asked him to check for an update from his end for the shipping and he replied "Am Schiff." I had seen the last status for Frankfurt and assumed it was going by air. Once I heard it was going by ship I did a bunch of internet sleuthing and determined where it would end up ( departure port after sailing up the Rhine I think) and then researched how long on average ships take to get to Montreal, Canada. It was a 30 day estimate and lo and behold the next status update I got was 30 days later when it had arrived at Montreal. That was a happy day - but still not completely happy until it arrived at my house.

And by the way, I did a lot of internet spying to determine that the seller was real and even figured out his antique shop where he lived. Plus I phone and talked to him with my High School German before sending the bank transfer.

So a "fun" adventure getting that helmet.

It's the one on the left (with the shrapnel from Coert that fit the dent/hole in the spike).


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I had the same experience as Steve. First the customs fee, which was for a helmet from France that was clearly marked as an antique of more than 100 yrs old. Then 9 months later, the state got me with 6.5% sales fee. It turns out that U.S. Customs alerts the state! With some work, I was able to get the penalty reduced. But now I’m labeled as an “Importer”

Maybe good news: I understand Hermann Historica is going to set up an operation in the U.S. if successful, it will greatly alleviate the Customs mess. .

I think that Jason B. is already their USA agent
Last year, I got a Hannoverian M15 helmet with the WATERLOO bandeau from France (pic attached). However, the auction house listed it at its full value and labeled it as a "casque spitze" on the customs declaration. To my surprise, it was seized by US Customs for being labeled as alcohol. They said it was a cask of spritzer wine and needing an alcohol import license... sounds like a load of BS. Lets say I am very familiar with the customs process as part of my job. When packages are flagged, it is typically done by random inspection (every 10th, etc) and is ultimately the discretion of the Customs Agent. There is very little accountability of the item once it is flagged for inspection. This means that it is very possible for agents to take a package back to their desk and send it for disposal for whatever reason (or take it home). Worst part is, that insurance will not pay out because they did not insure a casque of alcohol, and there is no tracking for a helmet (as far as how they see it). I have tried all my options, I am just out of everything for it. The best thing is to be smart next time. I hope this helps someone make better choices than I did when mailing overseas.

Here are some things I will do differently next time:
-Ensure they label the package as a "safety helmet". Make the contents less appealing for a thief at US customs.
-Make sure the shipper sends you a receipt with the package contents included on the receipt (necessary for insurance)
-The shipper is less likely to care, so keep them transparent. Make sure to get documentation as to their payout from insurance if something does happen. They are the benefactor (not you as the recipient), but you pay for it, so don't get caught with a partial payment.
-I will continue to buy insurance for large purchases.
-Use AMEX if you can. They have the best customer protection.

If you see this helmet for sale elsewhere in the world, please kindly let me know.


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Hi Gabe, sorry this happened. Can you post some of the correspondence you had with US Customs?
Hi Gabe, sorry this happened. Can you post some of the correspondence you had with US Customs?
While I'd like to, I am hesitant to post it publicly since I believe there is theft involved and I don't see it being very helpful to my case. I'm happy to be more specific offline if anyone is having a similar issue, however.
Imagine; a printing press !
As big as a car.
It got lost too by the transporter....
It happenend to a good friend of me who collects old printing presses, and wanted to bring one over from Austria to Belgium....
Sometimes I ask my self where did it go wrong....!?
I never use the word military or similar “old safety helmet” 45$ . Just sent an antique cigarette case to UK. Said old card case no mention of cigarette . We have to wise up. Will keep a look out. Rob
I learned to use a printing press (Heidelberg) in Grade Nine in High School Graphic Arts in 1977. Had to set type by hand and everything.
Someone actually collects "printing presses" :oops: Wow!
Here he is, in front of a small part of his collection.
When we met in 1976, he was collecting militaria, along with his brother....
Here he is, in front of a small part of his collection.
When we met in 1976, he was collecting militaria, along with his brother....
That's remarkable - thanks for sharing Kris!