What is the most expensive liner to collect?

Big Red here with some intel for all you M-1 helmet lovers out there.


So, what is the most expensive liner to collect?

The short answer:

The “Liner, Fibre, M-1” made by Hawley Products Co., St. Charles, Illinois.
To better understand why, requires a brief history, so listen up, buttercup!

The “Liner, Fibre, M-1” was the first of its kind in the history of military head protection. The liner's body was a fabric-covered paperboard shell that contained a suspension system that allowed it to be worn as a hat, which, when circumstances dictated, a steel protective shell could slip-fit over. This liner was part of a two-in-one helmet assembly designed under the oversight of the Army Ordnance Department.

The first fibre liners were procured for use with the M-1 helmet under a contract issued by the Department of Defense on July 21, 1941, as a supplement tagged on to the early termination of an Ordnance contract issued to McCord Radiator and Manufacturing Company of Detroit, Michigan, for M-1917 helmets.

McCord Radiator was the prime contractor for the Ordnance Department, meaning they were responsible for making or sub-contracting all components necessary to provide the Army with a complete helmet assembly. Following a brief investigation into the potential use of plastics for liner body construction, McCord found the current state of this industry inadequate, forcing them to seek out a viable alternative.

Hawley Products Co., St. Charles, Illinois, a manufacturer of pressed paper products, provided this alternative. Hawley was currently under contract with the Army to provide a fabric-covered, laminated paperboard sun helmet in the form of a safari-style hat. McCord approached Hawley with the possibility of using this same process to fabricate a shell that would securely fit into the protective metal shell they were pressing at their plant. Hawley accepted the challenge and successfully produced the tooling necessary to make what became known as the Liner, Fibre, M-1.

Although this liner’s construction was ideal for use as a sun hat, the type of construction and method of manufacture from which it had been adapted proved, in practical field use, entirely inappropriate for its needed purpose as a liner to the steel helmet. Even though the Office of the Quartermaster General, OQMG, made it clear that this type of liner provided no desirable attributes beyond making the protective steel shell wearable, they reluctantly approved its manufacture because, at that moment, they didn’t have a better alternative.

Based on the Quartermaster’s long list of undesirable attributes combined with the liners relatively short serviceability in the field, its average cost of $1.51 per unit, as opposed to the average cost of the latter high-pressure liner at $1.35 per unit, made the fibre liner extremely expensive in comparison.

Interestingly, the attributes of the Fibre liner that made it undesirable and expensive at the time they were procured by the Army are the same attributes that make these liners both desirable and expensive to procure by the modern-day M-1 helmet collector. The reason these liners are highly sought after by M-1 helmet collectors is because they are representative of the first M-1 helmets made and because the timeline of their manufacture, from late-November 1941 to mid-November 1942, firmly places them within early war use.

The low quantity of this liner's manufacture and its short service life have combined to reduce its availability in today’s collector’s market, placing this type of liner in the category of being rare but not scarce. Adding to this liner’s rarity was the decision of the Office of the Quartermaster General to contract for liners formed under low-pressure molding, which, although they didn’t meet the level of performance of the desired high-pressure version, outperformed the existing fibre liner and helped limit the number of fibre liners required to a quantity of 3,977,000.

Over the past two decades, the value placed on "Plane Jane" fibre liners within the collector’s marketplace has fluctuated dramatically. Fibre liners have always been a pricy item; in comparison to other liner types, their placement at the high or low end of the value scale is largely determined by their suspension system. Collectors regard liners with suspensions made of Rayon webbing and parts as more desirable, placing them at the high end, while those with suspensions made of Herringbone Twill (HBT) webbing and parts are at the lower end. Condition, from mint to relic, or their pairing with an appropriate helmet seem to be the only other mitigating factors affecting the perceived value of this type of liner.


Collector’s Note: Unlike other liner producers contracted during the early stages of production, which saw exemptions granted for an eclectic mixture of parts during the Rayon to HBT suspension transition, McCord Radiator is the only prime contractor to make the switch to HBT suspensions and parts, with the earlier fixed-position leather liner chin strap being the only carry-over component.

 Now you know….


if your friends want to know how you gained your intel, tell em
Big Red Says!


1 commentaire

  • Kevin Rowley

    Once again Big Red making sense of a subject that confuses everyone
    At ease Big Red!

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