This book is jam-packed with practical knowledge on German cloth military headgear. Useful information to help novice collectors learn how to avoid costly mistakes - cap construction basics and materials, descriptions of each cap model and comparisons with altered originals, modified post-war caps, and reproductions - all neatly divided into individual sections for easy reference. Also included is a series of convenient quick check lists that identify common modification danger points for each cap type. For the advanced collector, the book offers historical background about the German cap making industry with the first-ever listing of German cap makers, maker mark illustrations, and many individual histories, including never published information on the post-war history and sad fate of perhaps the most famous of all German cap makers, Robert Lubstein (EREL). Over 220 color and black and white contemporary and period photographs bring The Collector's Guide to Cloth Third Reich Military Headgear to life.
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My original intention with this book was merely to provide historical details about the history of the German cap making industry and as many makers as I possibly could (something that had always been of particular interest to me!); at least, all of the makers who have come to be recognized as "major" producers (by sheer volume) by the collecting community, or makers whose products have long been recognized as representing consistently excellent (exemplary) quality. I had also long wanted to answer the question about what had happened to perhaps the most famous and well-respected German cap maker of all time, Robert Lubstein. From that beginning, I was then encouraged to expand the book with another complete section that offered a basic overview of German cap construction (though I did not take this to the degree rendered by Jill Halcolm in her multi-volume series) with a focus on reproduction headgear and modified original caps. I was very fortunate, because Schiffer Publishing Ltd. subsequently made major changes to its photographic requirements that, were The Collector's Guide to be printed today, would have blocked many of the pictures I used --actual online samples which came from the Internet (and many sellers with weak photography skillls); none of those actual examples of what a potential buyer faces online would have been acceptable to Schiffer. At any rate, the new section morphed the book into a major production that required three and a half years of research and a considerable outlay of non-reimbursed personal funds for postage and information fees (most Amtsgericht offices charged me for their information)--and for the services of a patent researcher in Berlin that I hired (the Federal Patent Office [Bundespatentamt] requires that all patent inquiries be carried out by a certified researcher selected from a list of names provided, of course, by the Patentamt).
There is a great deal of heated discussion among collectors about German cap manufacturing at the end of the war, and whether this, or that, material was used by this, or that maker.The fact is, we'll never know definitive answers for sure, since production figures from specific manufacturers* are essentially non-existent except in rare cases--thus, conclusions made by anyone, remain conjecture. However, one can make a logical analysis based on trends observed, facts that are known, limited available evidence, and deductive reasoning. For example, collectors continue to argue regarding substitute visor materials. The issue is that certain makers (Robert Lubstein is often chosen as the example) may have shifted from the normal Vulcanfiber visors previously used on visor caps to alternative materials like pressed cardboard (or other substitutes), because of lower cost, material shortages, war damage to visor manufacturers, or all of the above. However, the facts are that--all things considered--Vulcanfiber was relatively inexpensive to produce and did not require any materials critical to the war effort (thus the costs remained essentially affordable)--and it had proven durability. I am more familiar with Robert Lubstein (Berlin) than perhaps anyone outside his family: Herr Lubstein was an excellent businessman and a very sound, efficient business manager; it is therefore highly unlikely (in my opinion), that he would have allowed his entire stock of visors to reach a point of complete depletion--though he may indeed, have run out of a particular size if resupply were slow to arrive. At the close of the war, a far greater problem than material shortages for manufacturers was, in fact, delivery difficulties (a problem throughout the Reich, and one of the reasons why so much cloth SS insignia was found by US soldiers at the Dachau KZ storage facilities near Munich: production was not the issue--the problem was getting the product to the troops in the field since there was no transport (or no fuel stocks) readily available, or un-interdicted routes. Similarly, shipments of a particular needed visor size (if available) might not have been able to get through to Berlin, and thus, in this case, Lubstein might have looked for a viable replacement from a source closer than his Vulcanfiber supplier--but only in the visor size that he was short of, because Lubstein is unlikely to have been satisfied with any material but the Vulcanfiber if he could get it. Lubstein the man, was a stickler for old school production and I simply do not agree that he would have made a 100% blanket quality change to Ersatz materials in any case but one where he truly had no Vulcanfiber visors remaining (i.e., for a given size) and no hope of getting a refill in the time needed.
One wonders, in the last two to four months of the war, how much EREL product Lubstein was able to move out of Berlin to customers, given the same transportation problems?
At any rate, conclusions that I reach in my book are based on available evidence, available facts, trends observed, personality factors of the actors (when known), and logical deduction based on all of the above.
* However, Herr Lubstein--always the supremely efficient man--was a person who did leave behind personal copies of extensive inventory details for his firm (dated 1946 and 1947), along with copies of the legal documents concerned with closing the sale/purchase of the Heinrich-Roller Straße property in 1939 between the original owners, Stein & Herz [these two families left Germany to emigrate to the United States in 1939 or 1940], and Robert Lubstein (all of the above information is in my possession, very kindly provided to me by his grandson).
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