SS Decal Variations, an Informational
This section presents an overview of mainstream decals used by the SS from
1933-1945. If you are familiar with or own my books, you will see these same
decals laid out in detail as to origin, correlation to helmet manufacturer, and
approximate time period used.
During my 51 years of collecting German helmets, I have identified several decal
variations, and note that among the nearly dozen possible, there were five basic
types that were manufactured and used within the mainstream production of SS
helmets. These are: 1) CA Pocher, Nuremberg, 2) FW Quist Pattern, 3) NS or
Champagne Rune, 4) EF Pattern and 5) ET Pattern. Each of these decals except
Pocher had internal variations, albeit slight. Review these often for reference
when comparing helmets you are considering buying out there in order to avoid
getting stung. I hope you download this document for your use and sharing. My
intellectual property has already been shared unofficially on forums and other
means for over 12 years since my SS-Steel books came out, so feel free to
continue doing so with this brief, but structured document. For any questions, I
am available anytime at email@example.com
Early SS Decal Variations (see SS-Steel vol. 1 and 2 for details)
The SS used several variations of helmet insignia until they settled on their main
production styles. Some of these included the SS-VT circular runes and mobile
swastika, the scalloped LAH decals, the Fat Runes decal, the Austrian Pattern
runes decal and the Round Bottom runic shield.
i) SS-VT helmet insignia. Here is an original hand- rendered set of SS-VT insignia,
on a helmet found in a Minnesota barn in September 2015.
ii) Fat Runes decal from an ET M35
Helmet. There is no corresponding
party shield; ET and Pocher styles were
both used with this shield. Fat Runes
are a face-up decal.
iii) Austrian Pattern SS Decals, found on special Earth Brown transitionals and at
least one Sicherheitsdienst M34 helmet.
iv) Round Bottom Runic and Party shields, found on SD-Related RZM and M34
helmets. This rare variant appears to be face down decals, lacking the celluloid
Mainstream Production Decals used by the SS between 1935-1945.
1) CA Pocherdesign approved by Reichsfhrer-SS in July-August 1934. Worn by
the SS on a large variety of helmets throughout the entire period up until 1945.
CA Pochers are face-up water slide type decals.
2) FW Quist Pattern (Narrow Q). Believed designed and authorized by early 1938.
Used on Q helmets exclusively through end of production in 1943, through to the
end in 1945. Quist decals appear to be face down decals, lacking presence of
celluloid film. Lack of examples of this rune still on the paper noted.
FW Quist Wide Pattern Rune.
See SS-Steel Expanded Edition for detailed
3) NS Pattern or Champagne Rune. These appear in a wide and a narrow
variation, in very small number on a variety of M35, 40 and 42 helmets. These
insignia are less understood and not universally accepted as original Third Reich,
due to the amount of fakes that exist. Speaking about the original examples I have
handled, here is my analysis from since my first encounter with this decal in the
1970s; and excerpts from my 2010 publication of the updated edition of SS-
Steel. Below is a wide style champagne rune decal on an NS M35 Helmet, and a
narrow style on an NS M40. The decal on the left has the celluloid carrier film
visible (face up); the narrow pattern does not (face down). Lack of unapplied
decals (still on paper) noted.
*See Footnote at the end for more information on Champagne Runes
4) EF Pattern Runes.
These appear to have been designed and approved sometime around 1941, and
with two known m-40 exceptions, appear on the EF M42 helmet almost
exclusively. Here are examples of the EF rune and party shields.
EF Pattern runic and party shields. These party shields are distinct from stock
party shields found on other SS helmets and are found universally on EF M42
Polizei helmets. The runic shields appear to be face-down decals. Lack of
examples of these decals still on the paper noted.
5). ET Pattern Decals. These are probably the most abundant version of original
SS decals encountered. They began to appear universally on ET-produced helmets
in 1938; and then on M40 and M42 helmets through until the end of 1943 from
ET. The runic shield on the M35s is different from that of the M40 / 42 and are
pictured below for reference.
Top left: ET Runes on an M35; right ET
party shield on M35. Right: ET runes
on M40. The M35 pattern are face-
up decals. The M40 pattern may be
*My viewpoint on Champagne Rune Decals.
Based on having seen these decals since the 1970s, my viewpoint has always been
that they are real. They were not plentiful, but they appeared occasionally over
the years, on M35, M40 and M42 shells. Back in those days, our analysis was very
thin, consisting mainly of first and second pattern decals, but frankly not even
that sophisticated. I did not even differentiate them visually back at that time,
because I saw so few SS helmets available anyway (this was based on my
observations starting 40-50 years ago). In subsequent years, as I encountered
them in the field, I considered recognized them as part of the SS decal pantheon.
Friends of mine over the years sometimes expressed doubt in their originality, so
in my early SS bookswhile I picture themI do not specifically say they are
different, even though by 1993 I definitely had noticed they were made
differently. And of course there are fake ones, just as there are fake Qs, ETs and
Pochers. Many fake champagne runes, (two of which Ive had in my hands) were
said to have been done by an American and sold on ebay.
Evidence supporting my viewpoint on Champagne Runes:
As I show in SS-Steel, I vet purchased two of them in the early-mid 1970s. In my
first book, SS Helmets, published in 1993, I show one or two M35s with
champagne runes. One is an NS and one is an ET. There are color closeups of the
decals, which show the celluloid underlay and other characteristics of
mainstream decals of a more conventional manufacture technique. So from the
early-mid 70s to 1993, I had collected a total of 4 champagne rune bearing SS
helmets, along with probably thirty five Q, and ET helmets. I did not even see my
first EF pattern decal helmet until 1994, and while I thought it was inherently real,
I had no point of reference on it. This was how asunder the analytical body of
evidence on helmets was back then. With the internet the way it is today, you can
learn 20 years worth of hard earned knowledge in about six months. (You can
also un-learn a lot with the equally fast pace of mis-information nowadays.) There
is no substitute for experience.
Long after I had come up with my catalogue of SS decals and their correlation to
helmet makers, which I did in the latter 1990s, I published the first edition of SS
Steel to advance my theory on NS pattern decals. I actually got the idea for the
term Champagne Runes decals from my mentor, Al Barrows, who in more than
one conversation shared with me that he also thought there was a subdued
version of the SS decal, which had a champagne like look to it.
I first featured champagne runes as a decal variation in my first volume of SS-Steel
in 2003. As I was preparing to publish SS Steel Expanded Edition in 2008-09, I
had begun more earnestly cataloging and studying champagne runes. Collectors
had been sending me their champagne rune helmets for my analysis. I noted that
some had appeared from such remote corners of the earth, yet bore
characteristics of already known examples, so I realized my hypothesis was
bearing out in the physical evidence.
In 2010, I encountered XRay Florescence technology, which I embraced as a
potentially valuable authentication tool based on the purity of the technology. I
participated in the creation of a large database of scans of all the SS helmets
decals I could get my hands on, approximately 200 examples over a several month
period. When we had more than three hundred examples in the database, we
developed a mean, a signature of the key elements that each decal was made of.
This included champagne runes, which bear nearly the identical signature as a CA
Pocher, with the exception of the presence of about 3% copper. I was astounded;
this was to me the element that possibly accounts for the bronze color of this
type of decal.
The way it basically works is the surface of the object, in this case decals, is
bombarded with xray energy from a hand-held device. The device reads the
molecular, non-organic (metals basically) materials that make up the decal. These
can be distinguished from the underlying helmet metal and also from the paint.
The amount of certain elements in the decals is pretty consistent within a very,
very small margin of error. In the case of decals produced in old fashioned
printing methods in the 1930s and 1940s, a very different array of elements is
presented than modern plastic and silicate fakes. Very different. Not only that,
each makers SS decal from the period only varies from the others by a fraction.
Such was the case with champagne runes, which basically show the same
characteristics as a Pocher or a Quist, with the exception of added copper. The
data are difficult to present in a simple way, but when I have the data charts in a
way that conveys the information clearly, I will update them into this pdf so
readers can see the numbers.
What collectors further need to understand is that XRay Florescence technology is
a widely used methodology for determining the age and authenticity of an
inorganic object based on its composition. It is not a guess, and not a what if; it
is an empirical scientific methodology. Chemical engineers seem to have no
problem understanding this, but collectors not close to it can be told it is wrong or
does not work, and therefore their understanding of it falls down. It is fact based
and objective, and available to all. The damage done to the technology some
helmet discussion forums, by saying it was flawed, was immeasurable; a boon to
fakers who now have a clearer path to deceive collectors with even more
advanced renditions of their fakesof all kinds (remember, there are fake
pochers, quist, ef Austrian, etc; all decals are faked profusely).
Here are links that the reader can follow to see what XRF technology is and how it
is presently used by the top forensic and research specialists in the world. This is a
useful tool in many applications, in standard use in museums and other venues
throughout the world.
http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/now-at-the-met/features/2010/behind-the-scenes-the-department-of-scientific-research https://www.facebook.com/metmuseum/photos/a.10152626481897635.1073741849.6296252634/10152626482012635/ http://blogs.guggenheim.org/checklist/art-and-science-on-fifth-avenue-the-met-and-the-guggenheim-combine-forces/
https://www.royalarmouries.org/what-we-do/conservation/conservation-in-practice/xrf-analysis http://www.history.org/history/museums/conservation/analytical.cfm?showSite=mobile https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/community/blogosphere/2011/01/26/analyzing-pigments-in-the-book-of-the-dead-using-xrf-spectroscopy/ https://www.fieldmuseum.org/science/special-projects/elemental-analysis-facility/portable-x-ray-fluorescence-pxrf https://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/departments/conservation_and_science/research/scientific_techniques/x-ray_fluorescence.aspx http://www.getty.edu/museum/conservation/papers.html http://www.artcons.udel.edu/about/kress/examination-techniques-and-scientific-terms/x-ray-fluorescence https://ellencarrlee.wordpress.com/tag/museum-xrf/ http://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/multimedia/detail.cfm?id=10012 http://upers.kuleuven.be/en/book/9789058679079 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17867530 https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/rg/axes/research/research-topics/in-situ-ma-xrf-scann/ http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168583X10000844 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24004868 http://www.heritagesciencejournal.com/content/1/1/2
This technology is in use by nearly every major museum in the world.