Big Red here at me favorite waterin hole, Cohan's Pub.
Pull up a chair, have a pint.
Today Daniel Spunkmeyer stopped in with a question,
“Big Red, should I leave a helmet or liner in the exact condition I found it in even if it is full of turds?”
As long as your buying Danny Boy I'm answering...
Nobody likes a turd filled pot.
NEVER leave a turd in the pot boyo.
Aside from the removal of turds, is it ok to alter the “as found” condition of a helmet?
Self-proclaimed purists would say “don’t touch it, leave it as is”. When these individuals tell you “don’t touch” is it because they think you are destroying History or because they want to be the one to decide what conservation if any should be taken?
I believe that once someone chooses to become a collector of historic items, they must also take on the responsibility of both a curator and conservator. What being a curator means to me is a temporary keeper or custodian and by conservator I mean a guardian or protector. Any steps you choose to take with a historic relic in any condition will have ramifications for the life of that relic. It is my belief that you will be best served to look at your collection with a wholistic approach to preservation.
Every aspect of collecting has its own set of views on what is considered acceptable or unacceptable handling of items. Gun collectors, for example, have a specific set of rules regarding conservation that differs significantly from those of knife collectors. Helmet collectors are no different and have their own set of rules as well. There are things that should not be done, as they will be detrimental to the materials a helmet and liner are made of, as well as the ever changing opinions of the current collectors community.
The inter-webs are a good place to learn about the devastatingly catastrophic results of common and accepted preservation practices performed by German helmet collectors in the 1960s and 70s that involved oiling helmets and rubbing leather components down with vaseline.
Forums on the inter-webs are a good starting point to learn how helmet collectors view different types of conservation and how this effects their perception of value. Be warned that forums are not the place to discuss this topic unless you revel in reading abusive reciprocal rhetoric between the “It’s yours do what you want” and the “don’t touch” groupies who will argue until the thread is locked.
If, after thoroughly researching these arguements, you are of the mind that it is your collection, you own it and you can do with it whatever you want, you would be correct. However, time passes and circumstances change leading all of us to consider the transfer of our collections to the next custodian. When that time comes, any extreme actions taken in the name of “preserving” your helmets will come back to haunt you. If you are not willing to take the loss, do nothing.
Until next time, I bid ye a fond