Pub Talk - A Tale of Two Janes

Big Red here at me favorite waterin hole, Cohan's Pub.
Pull up a chair, have a pint and I will tell you "A Tale of Two Janes".

Many M-1 helmet collectors have an ongoing love affair with acquiring highly customized helmets. Period authentic helmets with this level of customization are rare at best and the risk of losing big cash on a fake is imminent if you haven't done your research and built solid relationships with other, more experienced, collectors you can depend on to help you sort out the market.

So, what do I mean by customized? Basically, I define any M-1 helmet decorated with laundry numbers, names, rank, unit insignia, or soldier art as being customized. I generically refer to decorated helmets on the high end of the customized scale as "Jayne Mansfields." These helmets are considered by collectors to be “top shelf” and the playground of “high-end” or “expert” collectors. For the most part, legitimate, highly customized helmets will change hands in private with the collecting world, none the wiser. The customized helmets the M-1 collecting world knows about are those acquired by junior collectors who share their excitement about having found one by posting pictures and asking for reviews with an online community.


In all the fervor of searching for records and attempting to nail down who the consensus believes the owner was or to demonstrate that the helmet in question has been there and done that, the unadorned M-1 often finds it’s not invited to the party.

For me, the unadorned M-1, often described by collectors as a “Plain Jane," is the foundation of any solid collection and more exciting to collect in all its guises of manufacturing variations than any highly customized or "Jayne Mansfield" helmet out there. Don’t get me wrong, if I happen to come across a helmet at any level of customization, I will evaluate it, and if a reasonable deal can be struck, I will happily add it to the collection; however, I don’t seek them out. 

While a nice example of a customized helmet adds flare to any collection, it speaks more to the history of its customization, meaning the specific activities of the individual or unit it is attributed to, as opposed to the history of the M-1 as an object. I get very excited when I find helmets or liners that speak specifically to the development of the M-1 as its design progressed from its first inception in 1941 to its final version in 1945 and all variations between.

A good example of this would be locating a St. Clair liner that has factory-applied resin-textured paint on the outside, but the webbing rivets have a smooth, dark green finish. This means I have a liner body made and painted by the St. Clair Rubber Co. that was delivered to McCord Radiator for assembly around October 1942.

Or, this beautiful Inland liner that has transitioned away from the original Rayon webbing and fixed chinstrap but still retains the segma snaps to allow for a snap in Riddell style headband.

The epic struggle to design, refine, and standardize manufacturing to meet war effort needs for the M-1 helmet forced both the Quartermaster Corps and Ordnance Department to allow suppliers a myriad of variances, resulting in an eclectic hodgepodge of buckles, loops, webbing, snaps, clips, and inserts. It is this aspect of M-1 helmet history that interests me most and why I favor a good ole’ Plain Jane pot over a customized “Jayne Mansfield” any day.


Now it's time to stop jaw jacking and start some serious drinking……
Until next time, I bid ye a fond












  • nick barba

    I would rather have a plain jane any day. thanks for the great info.

  • Steve Frey

    I love them all with rust to prestin I enjoy collecting M1 helmets 🪖.

  • phillip d marritt

    im like m1 jesus; i luvs em all!

  • Frank Socci

    I’m often surprised when I come across a special helmet at an estate or yard sale. Last was a St Clair I found a few years back and nestled within an almost mint looking fixed bail McCord. It’s great to be surprised.

  • Francis Reinprecht

    … and this is why I read all of Big Red’s Battle Blogs. Big Red needs to write another, substantially more detailed and in hard cover, book on the history and iterations of the World War II M-1 helmet. Sign me up for a copy!

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