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Peter Gajdos




Location: hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 11:59 am    Post subject: viking-saxon-normann medieval helmet         Reply with quote

Hello, I am new to this forum, hope my post will work.
Basicaly I bought a rare medieval helmet from northern Germany some time ago and I believe it is a rare viking style helmet from the early medieval times. I was told it was part of an old collection and it was covered with museum wax as seen on the pictures that I removed since then and the details are more visible. the hand work is obvious, the little imperfections, the hammered copper nails, the bent reinforced rims, the plates, chiseling ,filing, the technique all makes me sure it is a very old precious helmet, but I just can not believe it still , since these helmets are so rare, only a few of them exist on the world, still I am very sure it is original, would like to ask if there is anyone who is knowledgable to confirm its authenticity or which way to go for help in its authentication. I sent pics to Chirstie's auctioneer but they still not replied after 2 months saying the expert is still looking into it. If wished I can take new pics since the wax is removed and more details came up. regards
Peter



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E. Storesund





Joined: 10 Jan 2011

Posts: 101

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If this is genuine it really is a marvel! I don't have much to add, but the braided decoration might be worth investigating.
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Ralph Grinly





Joined: 19 Jan 2011

Posts: 322

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 1:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thats a very nice looking helmet. I'm certainly no expert, but I'd be very suspicious if it's supposed to be a genuine viking helmet.. First off - if it *was* a museum/collection item- I'd have expected that something that rare would have been published somewhere before. . Is there any musuem/collection aquisition anywhere on it anywhere ? Also, for the good condition it appears to be in, something that old would have had to be professionaly restored ? Thats not a job for an amateur.
Also..there's another thing that looks out of place to me. There are large areas of corrosion/ missing metal in the helmet bowl - what would normally be the heaviest metal ? Yet the area around the rim..where there are lots of holes ( for attaching mail, I presume) none of *those* holes have rusted through, despite the thinner metal there ?
I'm suspecting hat you have is a nicely made 19th C "Replica" ?? Whatever it is, it looks good Happy
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Peter Gajdos




Location: hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ralph Grinly wrote:
Thats a very nice looking helmet. I'm certainly no expert, but I'd be very suspicious if it's supposed to be a genuine viking helmet.. First off - if it *was* a museum/collection item- I'd have expected that something that rare would have been published somewhere before. . Is there any musuem/collection aquisition anywhere on it anywhere ? Also, for the good condition it appears to be in, something that old would have had to be professionaly restored ? Thats not a job for an amateur.
Also..there's another thing that looks out of place to me. There are large areas of corrosion/ missing metal in the helmet bowl - what would normally be the heaviest metal ? Yet the area around the rim..where there are lots of holes ( for attaching mail, I presume) none of *those* holes have rusted through, despite the thinner metal there ?
I'm suspecting hat you have is a nicely made 19th C "Replica" ?? Whatever it is, it looks good Happy


Hello, thank you for your comment, but I believe you are wrong in all aspects. The helmet was sold from the collection of a deceased old german person, I suspect it might have been a spoils of war maybe, I was told the museum wax was around 100 years old this is why it was peeling so easily. I think might have been a loot during the ww2 by german troops from other country or maybe froma german museum and those days there was no much paperwork done especialy left after the burnt cities and paperworks, the owner was probably not brave enough to sale it or to show it off. Also, the holes are the results of very old patination and corrosions, a lot of iron was eaten away, the rim and the fittings are in much better condition of course since it is bronze and does not rust. A replica is a copy of a certain helmet, and since there is around 6-7 viking style helmet existing to copy it can not be one , also the style is the same but not matching exactly to any of them so to copy something does not exist is hard. The part with the holes for the chain mail is also bronze, so it does not rust. It does not need restoration, nothing is broken on it or fragile. Also, all parts are hand hammered and fitted with a lot of hard work, never seen a copy like this made with such a high details and lot of work invested to produce all those hand carved and chiseled fittings and to nail them together, it is surely not a recent made, tha patination can not be copied. Regards
Peter
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Peter Gajdos




Location: hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

E. Storesund wrote:
If this is genuine it really is a marvel! I don't have much to add, but the braided decoration might be worth investigating.


Hello , the decoration is mythological dragon, the nose guard is the dragon head and the eyebrows are the body and tail, it is viking style related, this is why I find it a marvelous ultra rare item. If you google the term viking helmet you find similar decorations on them.
Regards
peter
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Jamie Szudy




Location: Malaga Spain & Madison, Wisconsin
Joined: 23 Mar 2011

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to go with Ralph on this one - while of course it would need detailed investigation to prove it one way or another, my gut instinct tells me it is probably a 19th century creation that was deliberately "aged" to sell on the antiquities market. I could, of course, be wrong, but as an archaeologist, I have seen a lot of old finds, and this one just doesn't seem right. The structure of the helmet seems too sound for that amount of corrosion, which makes it seem that the corrosion was applied in a deliberate manner in order to give the appearance of authenticity while at the same time not reducing the selling value. If a helmet was buried and corroded to this degree, the bowl of the helmet would usually deform or fragment. I am also a bit suspicious of the rivets, which seem to clash with the bronze trim considerably more than is found in Viking helmets of known provenance.

The fact that it does not exactly replicate any known find in no way prevents it from being a forgery - why would a skilled forger go to all this trouble to make an exact copy of another helmet, given that is the easiest way to detect a forgery. Ancient and medieval helmets were never exactly identical, so a forger would never try to make an exact copy, but rather make something similar enough to a known example to make his forgery convincing, while at the same time different enough to appear original.

Anyway, as I said, I could be completely wrong. If it is genuine, it would be an amazingly unique find!! But it certainly need to be properly examined by a trained archaeologist and/or metallurgist for any kind of certainty.


Last edited by Jamie Szudy on Sat 26 Mar, 2011 3:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,306

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 3:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry, but I'd say it's a fake. It's too bad, because as a nice shiny reproduction it would be lovely. While it's true that the vast majority of surviving antiquities are in private collections, and the vast majority of the rest are packed away in storage in museum basements, it's not impossible for a helmet such as this to be unpublished. But given its lack of damage, it is still a little surprising that it has never been seen before. And it's just one of those "too good to be true" stories...

There are all kinds of modern craftsmen who can do good metalwork. But on original helmets of this sort, the rivets are often much smaller and subtler, particularly those holding the eyebrows in place. Plus, the decorative brass parts on this have a raised design, whereas on most originals they are inlaid with silver and garnets, and frequently gilded. These look like nice castings, don't get me wrong, they just aren't entirely convincing to me.

There have been any number of fake Roman helmets that I've seen in the past few years, usually a cheap Indian-made helmet that has been corroded in acid. Sometimes the "craftsman" will remove a cheekpiece or do something else like that, to make it more "real". But to folks like us they are glaringly recognizable. (Even the one bought by a museum for $50,000, woo hoo!) I don't recognize your helmet as a common Indian-made piece offhand, but I haven't looked at too many. And of course it could be an older piece, maybe even Victorian, though I kind of doubt it.

Sorry!

Matthew
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Tim Jorgensen




Location: Fargo, ND
Joined: 10 Sep 2010
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 40

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 4:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My advice would be to send the same set of images to museums that have helmets from around the same period, and maybe to some experts in metal antiquities. I think most of us want to believe this is a new example from Viking times, but the safety is to be a skeptic. Someone in the 19th or early 20th century could have certainly made an inspired piece the same way the SCA does these days. Thanks for the posting and best of luck finding answers.
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A. Heidalen Skog




Location: Norway
Joined: 07 Oct 2010

Posts: 51

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 5:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The spectacle and noseguard look like it's replicated from a Vendel era helmet. Still, it looks great ^^
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Jim Adelsen
Industry Professional



Location: WI
Joined: 28 Dec 2005

Posts: 137

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neat looking helmet. Since there is only one Viking Age helmet that has been found(Gjermundbu), I would say it's probably not real. Can't imagine such a good example from the Viking Age wouldn't have found its way to a museum. The design as mentioned looks more Vendel period to me. Very cool helmet. If it was real it would be extremely valuable as it is in better condition than the Gjermundbu helmet. It would also be a horrible shame that we don't know more about where it was found.
www.viking-shield.com
www.thevikingmuseum.com
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Allan Senefelder
Industry Professional



Location: Upstate NY
Joined: 18 Oct 2003

Posts: 1,563

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 6:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Private collection thing doesn't worry me much,as the WWII gereation moves on theres all sorts of stuff comming out, i've bought several " liberated from the Axis " piece in the last 15 years myself that are 100% legit. The what appears to be active rust under the wax gives me pause. 100 yeras ago attempts were still made to stablize rusting to preserve a piece. This does not necessarily disqualify it but makes me wonder. It doesn't surprise me that Christies hasn't gotten back with you without the item in hand they may be cautious about making a call and even with that they might get it wrong. It happens from time to time ( see Oakeshotts Record of the Medieval Sword for several examples of auctionhouse miss-IDs ).
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Adam Bodorics
Industry Professional




Joined: 15 Apr 2005

Posts: 124

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 6:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know much about this era (more like almost nothing), so it might be a stupid question - is the spherical shape correct for such a high-end helmet from that time? I mean the photo taken from above shows an almost perfect circle instead of an ellipsoid, and I've mostly seen that with poorly made modern stuff, as it's pretty far from the shape of human heads.
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Philip C. Ryan




Location: Omaha, NE
Joined: 04 Nov 2005
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Posts: 83

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 7:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to also agree that something just does not look "right" about it. The overall, almost perfect, semi-spherical shape of the "bowl" is not at all like any helm I have ever seen (pre or post viking age). I would think a helm that was designed in this much detail would also be designed to fit the human head a bit better. Also, the eyebrow pieces look too much like other pieces I have seen. I cannot find links right now, but they look a bit too much like a copy.

Who knows, though. I...we...could be wrong ad this is a brand new find! I would be excited to hear that it was eventually dated to be an actual viking age helm! I would agree that you should contact some museums that have good sized VA exibits, as opposed to waiting on an auction house.

Skjaldborg Viking Age Living History and Martial Combat
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Nathan Beal





Joined: 02 Apr 2006

Posts: 68

PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 9:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Obviously without seeing the object in person it's impossible to be sure but the following are red-flags to me.

The lack of secure provenance. (was this an object aquired from a museum during WW2 i would still expect it to likeley to have been documented)
The cast decoration appears to be structural, this is not consistent with viking/vendel helms (it's definately not saxon or norman).
Active (red) rust (as opposed to black, long-oxidised material).
The washer connecting the nasal to chin-plate (seen in http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/download.php?id=34080)
The multi-part thin plate construction evident under the nasal (as above and http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/download.php?id=34081).

Christies not ripping your hands off to sell it for you (if original this would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars as one has never come up for sale on the open market before) is a fairly clear sign of an issue. If you are in any doubt i would be tempted get an opinion from the royal armouries (in the UK) http://www.royalarmouries.org/contact-us.

HTH
N

Beware of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.
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Peter Gajdos




Location: hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 2:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Beal wrote:
Obviously without seeing the object in person it's impossible to be sure but the following are red-flags to me.

The lack of secure provenance. (was this an object aquired from a museum during WW2 i would still expect it to likeley to have been documented)
The cast decoration appears to be structural, this is not consistent with viking/vendel helms (it's definately not saxon or norman).
Active (red) rust (as opposed to black, long-oxidised material).
The washer connecting the nasal to chin-plate (seen in http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/download.php?id=34080)
The multi-part thin plate construction evident under the nasal (as above and http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/download.php?id=34081).

Christies not ripping your hands off to sell it for you (if original this would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars as one has never come up for sale on the open market before) is a fairly clear sign of an issue. If you are in any doubt i would be tempted get an opinion from the royal armouries (in the UK) http://www.royalarmouries.org/contact-us.

HTH
N



Hello, thank you to all for the commenct, but especialy you who supplied me with the link, will send the pics right after this and let you know the result. There were many sceptical facts referring that it is a modern replica. To reply to some of those fact, it is not a perfectly shaped round bowl, it is elyptic on the right front and the left back side is pushed in slightly, so it the rim that runs in the middle at the back, distorted clearly, so is the eyesocket, the side double copper rim (double, not simple one rim like on replicas), the nails are hand forged and hand hammered many times with old tools, the holes for the chain mails are not drilled but punched and they are all different also and even the spaces between differ a little, the decorations are hand chiseled and carved, if you look carefuly (not the best pics) you can see the patterns are falling out a bit of line, get thinner, thicker, deeper or less deep, the strong scratches from the tools, the rough finish at some places. Also, this is not an adult helmet , my wife is 165cm high and nearly , but can not fit her head, so a boy with a length of 150-158 cm high must have beared it, unless he was a dwarf from the lord of the rings. There is 2 type of copper used, the red copper and the other, whiter with the dragon theme could be a mixed material with yellow copper and silver, not sure, a gilded surface would be gone by now, especial I see traces of fire on the bowl. The dragon is a typical vikiing, varangian style, many of these bracelets with this head can be found on ebay for sale and come up on the northern european viking era helmets as in relation of the vikings, in england , denmark, normandy etc. . I do not know why would someone do a perfect replica in a childs size , I also pointed out the hand made flaw on the copper where it was cracked and some material was forged into it or filled up. Also, see the right eyebrow is separated slightly from the nose guard, unlike the left one and there are more of these little imperfections with not perfect fit, the dragons show how the maker formed the heads with his chisels and tools, the strong file marks and hammer blows can be seen still. I am a japanese sword collector and have 3 armors too, have experience and knowledge in patination, rust, folding techniques, since my swords are 900-300 years old and their tang never polished can tell the age from the color of the patina, also the hand guard called tsuba was made with similar techniques, folded iron, carved, inlayed designes, open works etc., there are later cast tsubas etc, know all the differences and what to look for, handled 400-500 swords and more fittings. My negative side is still like yours, guys, it is too good to be true, but strangely, how come the person I bought from knew nothing about this helmet ,what it is or how old? I seen it first time and new it is precious. Have a look at the side with the rim runs in the middle, and the gap between the bowl and the rim, see how much iron got eaten away from the rust, although the wax could not have been removed from the gap, still able to see that about 3milimeter iron is gone from thickness and not much left, this is why these natural rust holes are there, the patination, the surface , texture of the rusted iron is all natural and age related, can not be done with acid, fake helmets do not combine so many individual parts with different metals, so much hand work, hammering, the eye protection with bent iron plates with reinforced copper rim? All the nailing inside are all authentic medieval type, nothing to see in its techinque is modern made. will send the pics to the leeds armoury, see what happens, thanks to you all for the replies.



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Peter Gajdos




Location: hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 2:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

posted seom more pics...


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Peter Gajdos




Location: hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 2:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

more pics added as the uploading limit is pretty small


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Peter Gajdos




Location: hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 2:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jamie Szudy wrote:
I have to go with Ralph on this one - while of course it would need detailed investigation to prove it one way or another, my gut instinct tells me it is probably a 19th century creation that was deliberately "aged" to sell on the antiquities market. I could, of course, be wrong, but as an archaeologist, I have seen a lot of old finds, and this one just doesn't seem right. The structure of the helmet seems too sound for that amount of corrosion, which makes it seem that the corrosion was applied in a deliberate manner in order to give the appearance of authenticity while at the same time not reducing the selling value. If a helmet was buried and corroded to this degree, the bowl of the helmet would usually deform or fragment. I am also a bit suspicious of the rivets, which seem to clash with the bronze trim considerably more than is found in Viking helmets of known provenance.

The fact that it does not exactly replicate any known find in no way prevents it from being a forgery - why would a skilled forger go to all this trouble to make an exact copy of another helmet, given that is the easiest way to detect a forgery. Ancient and medieval helmets were never exactly identical, so a forger would never try to make an exact copy, but rather make something similar enough to a known example to make his forgery convincing, while at the same time different enough to appear original.

Anyway, as I said, I could be completely wrong. If it is genuine, it would be an amazingly unique find!! But it certainly need to be properly examined by a trained archaeologist and/or metallurgist for any kind of certainty.



Hello, I never said it was a ground found in the mud, not known its original location, also if it was a master replica how come the seller of this known nothing of its type, he only knew this is old , nothing about it. I seen even better condition older helmets, a lot of iron is gone from the thick iron bowl, the copper can last 20.000 year more easily. I wish to show it to someone but not many expert is knowledgable on this field, please see more pics at the bottom, regards
peter
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 3:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A. Heidalen Skog wrote:
The spectacle and noseguard look like it's replicated from a Vendel era helmet. Still, it looks great ^^


I have to say that it's the spectacle and noseguard that look the most suspicious to me. The rivets especially look like modern work found on many lower-end replicas. I would be very surprised to learn that this is an authentic helmet.
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Jamie Szudy




Location: Malaga Spain & Madison, Wisconsin
Joined: 23 Mar 2011

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Gajdos wrote:

Hello, I never said it was a ground found in the mud, not known its original location, also if it was a master replica how come the seller of this known nothing of its type, he only knew this is old , nothing about it. I seen even better condition older helmets, a lot of iron is gone from the thick iron bowl, the copper can last 20.000 year more easily. I wish to show it to someone but not many expert is knowledgable on this field, please see more pics at the bottom, regards
peter


I take your point, though I cannot imagine where a helm of this era would have been preserved except in a burial. If it had, through some odd circumstance, been preserved in a church, one would expect rather better preservation.

I don't know of anyone in Budapest, but you may want to contact the department of Ur- und Frühgeschichte at the University of Vienna. They have an excellent archaeometallurgy program (to the point of even having their own scanning electron microscope, which, I have to say, it about the most awesome toy I have ever had the pleasure to play with! Big Grin ). If you have no luck there, I would recommend trying the Frühgeschichte or Altgeschichte departments of other universities in Germany and Austria. But do not be surprised if the decline to perform costly or time consuming analyses on the helm, since a visual inspection by an expert may be sufficient in determining its authenticity.
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