Updated: Sep 16
No other piece of militaria is perhaps as iconic as the infantryman's steel helmet. Unfortunately for many, original WWII helmets are (1) hard to find and (2) too expensive when they are found. At Circa1941, we pride ourselves on our ability to track down rare and authentic items. We utilize the following tips and tricks and they should work for anyone with an eBay account, but you still need to know what to look for. If you can't tell a WWII factory finish from a Vietnam era repaint or an original paratrooper liner from a recently re-webbed reenactor's setup, the following will be of little help to you.
While inexpensive helmets can be found at antique stores, flea markets, and garage sales, nothing quite compares to the selection available on eBay. There are quality helmets posted every day, you only need to find them. eBay's search engine is dependent on sellers properly identifying their offerings. When a seller spells 'helmet' incorrectly, everyone who conducts a properly spelled search will fail to see their listing. Typohound.com generates common misspellings of keywords and inputs them into an eBay search.
Depending on how many irrelevant results you want to search through, you can refine your search as specifically as you desire. A search within Collectibles > Militaria > WWII Militaria > WWII Collectibles > WWII United States Militaria > Original WWII US Hats & Helmets will produce the least amount of irrelevant results, but you may miss out on poorly-listed items.
Just because the photos show a desirable early-WWII M1917A1 helmet or a pair of Inland paratrooper liners, doesn't mean the sellers were aware of that when they were creating the listings.
Due to their relatively light weight, M1 helmet liners are sometimes confused as being vintage toys. In fact, after the war many were used as toys in the "battle of the backyard."
Browsing Toys & Hobbies > Vintage & Antique Toys > Other Vintage & Antique Toys can be a great way to find original helmet liners at a discount.
WWII M1 helmets and liners were also reused in the post-war years by police forces, Civil Defense units, the VFW, and the American Legion. Because of this, consider also searching within Collectibles > Historical Memorabilia > Fraternal Organizations > Veterans' Groups.
Helmet liners that feature post-war repaints and decals may not be the most desirable of items on their own, but they are sometimes outfitted with rare accessories. When you are in need of a green-buckled leather liner strap or a double-wire headband, consider taking a closer look at these helmet liners.
Even when an item is listed in the proper category with an adequate title, the seller may have underestimated the item's value. These under-priced items will often 'correct' when bidders discover them and bid the price up. Buy It Now listings, however, are set at whatever price the seller determined when they created the listing.
Newly-listed Buy It Nows offer the buyer the opportunity to acquire quality items without having to compete in a week-long auction, but you have to get to them before anyone else does.
Now that you have all the inside tips and tricks to find a WWII helmet, liner, or accessory of your own, give it a try! If you would like to avoid the grunt work, view Circa1941's constantly-updated selection of high quality items. We would love to earn your business!