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  • 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 protected]


    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.

    mailto:[email protected]

  • 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


  • II.

    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

    face down.


  • Footnote:

    *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.



    This technology is in use by nearly every major museum in the world.

    Happy Collecting!

    Kelly Hicks