The biggest problem in visor collecting is a reassembled visor. Fakes after a while get easy to detect but these can be very, very good and almost near impossible to detect. Any time you are looking at a general rank or SS visor the possibility that the visor started life as something else is very high. In fact you will even see this on rarer waffenfarbe army visors. There are a few different types of put together visors. Here are the two commonly encountered.
1. Fake exterior with a period interior
2. Period visor taken apart and reassembled with a new color cap band or a different piping added.
Now what do you look for to know if a visor has been messes with? Well here are the basics.
The sweatband is a great starting point. Although you will find period visors with repaired or replaced (period and post war) sweatbands, this should be looked at as a red flag and a further examination is a must. The first thing I look for, does the type of sweatband fit the cap? Take a look at the shield. Is it marked Stirndruckfrei? If so this is a patent held be Peter Kupper and the sweatband should have a velvet band in-between the sweatband and base. Just the opposite also applies. Does the sweatband have a velvet insert but it not marked Stirndruckfrei? This should be a big red flag and a sign the visor has been messed with. Next, check the sweatband to see if it has been reattached. There are three common types of sweatbands.
1. The rollover. This is a sweatband that is sewn in and completely rolled over. This is the most common type encountered.
2. The half & half. This type is rolled over in front and the rear hand stitched to the base.
3. The Stirnschutz. This type was used by Erel and Clemens Wagner. The sweatband will have an oil cloth reed in-between the sweatband and base and a small bit of cushion material in front. If you see an oil cloth reed and it is not an Erel or Clemens Wagner it should be a red flag.
Once you determine the sweatband is correct for the visor, you need to look for other signs of foul play. Exposed stitching at the exterior bottom base of the cap just above or bellow the bottom piping should be a red flag. This is the most common mistake fakers make when reattaching a sweatband.
Next, look to see if the stitching has a good clean pattern like a nice straight line --------. If the stitching is all over the place this should be a red flag.
If you can clip off a small piece of the sweatband stitching you can also perform a burn test to make sure no synthetic materials were used.
You should also be looking for extra holes in the sweatband from use on a previous visor.
Sweatband post war stitching is easy to tell on most sweatbands, the only exception is the Erel & Clemens Wagner sweatbands. If done right these are really hard to tell. These bands are a one piece unit so to speak. The can bee removed from a cap with the reed and cushion still attached. The band would be reattached in two ways. First, stitched back on (this is how they were factor done) with the stitching tucked in between the crease of the oil cloth reed and the sweatband. Look for very sloppy stitching here. Another way was they were just glued right back in. I have seen this twice now. Obviously and signs of glue should be a red flag.
Detecting a reattached sweatband is pretty easy after you see enough untouched sweatbands. It just takes a bit of experience.
The next thing you should look at is the lining. This is an easy tell-tail area where you can identify a messed with visor. Here are the things to look for.
1. Are the pleats in the lining pressed tight to the cap and in their original position? There was definitely an art to the pleating process. The pleats in a visor no matter how well used should always fold in the same direction, be pressed tight to the cap and have a nice neat appearance. Look for signs of prior creasing on a lining. If the pleats go every which way or are not flush to the cap this should be a red flag also.
2. Check for extra holes in the lining. Any extra holes were the attaching stitching is should be a red flag.
3. Check to see if the lining has been cut at the bottom or shortened to get ride of the tell-tail holes. A lining cut with pinking shears should be a red flag or a lining that looks too small for the cap.
4. Look to see of the lining sites straight in the cap. If there are any quadrant marking look to see if they are center. Also look for a lining that is too small or too big for a cap.
5. Make sure the lining belongs. If you have a contract lining in a private purchase cap you know you have big problems. Also check the lining for any markings that may identify the lining to a civil, army, political, SS, Kreigs or Luft cap. Obviously the lining should match the type a cap it is found in.
6. Stitching. This one is pretty easy. The stitching attaching the lining to the cap should be in a very neat and symmetrical V-pattern. The V’s should be pretty evenly spaced and neat in appearance. This was done by skilled craftsman. Reattached lining almost always have poor stitching.
Pasteboard is the material that is the foundation of the cap and holds it together. The pasteboard should be treated or in a waterproof material. There have been a few visors I have seen with untreated pasteboard (i.e. plain cardboard) but it was certainly not the norm or am I sold it ever happened. If you see plain cardboard it would be a big red flag for me.
Check the pasteboard for extra holes. Some times visor are restored and extra holes will be there but check for holes that make no sense, i.e. wreath holes in a SS visor.
Look at the cap band on a SS visor. Is it neat and very tight to the visor? Look for bulges at the top and bottom of the band were the piping meets. Is the band made of the correct material? Can you move it with your fingers or is it solid to the cap? There are red flags you can find with a cap band but you need to use common sense. Also feel the front of the cap band on SS visors to see if you can feel any signs of extra holes on the pasteboard.
Look close at the piping. Check for any signs of re-coloring or loose threads, sloppy stitching, exposed stitching, misshapen piping or in correct butting. If you are looking at bullion piping also compare to known originals and make sure the weave is correct along with the butting of the ends.
Shape of the cap
Look very closely at the shape of the cap. Does it sit well and look symmetrical? Look at the peak and the overhangs on the sides. On a lot of put together visors they cut the cap down a bit on reassembly. Is the peak too short? Does a private purchase look to have
more of a tellerform look? Do the overhangs look to short? This is one area that with a quick look you know you have problems and all these things should be red flags.
Another quick check is the caps size. Look at the top rear of the lining tucked tightly in the lining. Is there any roman numerals (also check the sides as they are sometimes there)? If so this is you size marking. The Roman numeral VI would tell use the cap is a size 56 or 56cm. Now measure out the size of the cap following the sweatband on the inside of the cap. Do they match up? The size should be exact. Just to be safe I would give about 2mm +/- for stretching or shrinkage but nothing more. If the cap is not the right size you have some big problems.
Know your makers
Every maker has certain identifiable construction traits. There are way too many to get into here but study the construction techniques of the bigger makers. If something does not seem right for that maker you have a big red flag.
This is a basic overview on what to look for in a messed with piece. There is much more detail we could go into but is out of the scope of what I wanted to do here.