I've got a nice little German leather helmet that has sat on a shelf in my workroom for several years because I have no idea of how to restore it. It's made by Rosenbaeur around 1930 or so and has a two-piece hard leather crown with enamelled steel front and back peaks sewn on to it.
When I got it the crown had shrunk and become misshapen and the stitching rotted away. Re-stitching it is no problem but how do you stretch and reshape the leather crown? I once tried steaming it until it became soft and then put a soccer ball bladder inside it and inflated the bladder. No very successful, it just popped out! I'm sure there must be some way, and if anyone out there is reading this and knows, please, let me in on the secret.
This leads me to another thought, one that does bug me at a low level. Fire helmet collecting is a lonely occupation, worse than stamp collecting. At least (with my generation anyway) most boys, and some girls, collected stamps at some time and so have some idea of the motivation to collect. But fire helmets! Whoever even notices them in their daily life? They are all one with roaring trucks, flashing lights and screaming sirens. If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.
I always avoid talking about my hobby for that very reason, but I was astounded when my editor got in touch with me and asked to see my collection! She is editing a book I'm writing on the Fire Helmets of London (England) and was so shocked to find that it was actually an interesting subject that she wanted to see the actual helmets I was writing about.
I was equally shocked to find that an ordinary human being would actually be interested in this subject after experiencing so many of the "drifting away" looks in the past. Maybe I'm not as far out on the Bell Curve of human existence after all.
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