I was going through a box with finds from this summer and I discovered a piece of some knitwear. It was crumbled together and full of soil. While I was brushing it clean I remembered that I had dug this up together with a helmet and not taken any notice of it. Now I realized it was a set of homemade earmuffs to wear under the cap or helmet. A really cool find and it is pretty neat that the woolen item survived completely intact :)
It is always exciting to dig up boxes where there is something inside. Sometimes you will find the box is filled with nails, or rocks, or just some gunk from something that had rotted away long time ago. Other times you can find buttons, coins, treasures, anything really. It is for me prehaps the biggest thrill with metal detecting as you never know what you`ll get, and the thing inside will either be quite rotted, or in good condition.
Yesterday I found a small metal tin which had some contents. I knew from its shape and size that it was a Maskenbrille box. Maskenbrille were glasses to wear with the gasmask. The box is of very thin metal so most times these are far gone when you find one, or whats left of one. And if you find one intact they often turn into dry rust crumbles when you try open it.
I decided to open the tin. With some antique dentist tool, a light hand and a little patience I managed to get the lid open with only minor damages. The maskenbrille was in surprisingly good condition so I am very happy with this find :)
The kick when the lid is open...
..and it is so cool to find intact items. I am very happy with the condition of these glasses.
Now it is time to clean and preserve the find. I will try to give the box a go in oxalic acid and hopefully some of the paint and text will be there.
A little more than a week ago I found a small ditch with two German helmets. They did look a bit rusty but I knew there would be some original color left under the rust and muck. First I gave them a wash with soap, warm water and a brush. Then I prepared a very hot bath with added oxalic acid for the two lids. I used somewhere between 50-100 gram acid for ca 20 litre water. I submerged the helmets and after 30 minutes I took the up and brushed them under fresh running water. Now lots of color were showing, but they needed a second go in the acid bath. Half an hour later I repeated the rinsing process but decided that a third go in the still warm acid bath would be to prefer. When I was done with the third brushing I placed the lids into a bucket with fresh clean water to neutralize and acid left on them, and later in the evening I could dry ther lids and give them a cover of the microcrystalline preservation wax I am making myself. The next morning the wax had dried and I gave both the lids a polishing with a rag before I took a few pics of them in the daylight. I am very happy with the result as both the helmets came out pretty good looking.
Directly out of the ditch.
After washing them with soap and water.
The result after the oxalic acid bath and wax treatment.
Video from finding the helmets below:
The Trench-Art Football!
"Trench-art" are often items produced from metal or wood, made by soldiers or Prisoners of War using simple tools. They are often very personal items and is highly collectible. Last week I found an unusual "Trench-art" item, a Football! Found in a dumping pit in a Gebirgsjäger camp, and it was made from what seems like rubber from car tyres. I am not into football at all but this is a really interesting find.
This German A-frame recently came out of an old barn in Northern Norway. It is in rather nice condition, showing some signs of wear and a hint of surface rust on the metal parts. The valley in where it was found had a large number of German combat troops withdrawing from the Finnish front in 1944, so this one might well have been brought by some of those troops.
The A-frame was used to carry the messkit, zeltbahn, tent pegs and other small items. Below is a link to follow if you want to read more about this piece of kit:
Searching a couple of Gebirgsjäger camps the last two seasons has yielded a lot of finds, but three or four of the finds stand out and I thought I should collect them in one post. By the end of the war these camps were used by German troops retreating from the Finland- and Eismeer front and many of the soldiers capitulated in the camps in spring 1945. Here some of them emptied their backpacks and pockets and threw the contents into pits and ditches for me to find it nearly 80 years later. In the autumn 2019 I dug one such pit and found a beautiful Finnish/German badge, the Nordfrontkreuz, awarded to soldiers fighting on that frontsection. It is a quite rare award and the one I had in front of me was in very good condition.
One year and one day later I was in another Gebirgsjäger camp and searched through a place a lot of stuff had been discarded and set fire to. Between the rubbish I found a Lapplandfrontkreuz. This is very similar to the Nordfront version, but this one was in slightly worse condition. These awards came in 12 different variations so with this speed and a lot of luck I might have the full set in about ten years.
Searching through another dumping pit I found a Eismeerfront medal, sadly not in great condition and in a pit nearby I dug out a trench-art cigarett case engraved with "1944" and "Zur erinnerung an die Eismeer front", a very nice and personal find.
Below is photos of the different finds and videos from finding the Nord- and Lapplandfront crosses.
Nordfrontkreuz and Lapplandfrontkreuz.
The Eismeerfront medal.
Trench-art cigarett case from the Eismeer front.
Here are two items I found in a shed this autumn, a winter parka and a sheepskin vest.
The parka is reversible, white on one side and mouse grey on the other side. It is in quite good condition, it has wear from use and I was lucky to find it when I did because some mice had begun nibbling on a very small patch of it. All buttons and drawstrings are present. I will make a nice torso set-up with this one.
The vest has pushbuttons sewn around its edges so it had doubled as a liner for a jacket or coat. This type of vest was often used by drivers and officers. I found this on top of a cabinet and it is in very good condition but showing a little wear and use.
Recently I added this cool item to my collection, a German foldable map table. It measure 70cm x 70cm and is ca 75cm tall. It is well made with brass edges, spikes on the legs and it has a slot underneath to place a ruler, which sadly is missing. On the underside it is stenciled "Nicht magnetfrei" which means it is magnetic and might disturb compasses and certain maptools. I really like this table and when I get more space I will use it for a map related display :)
Here are a few Panzerfaust tubes from my collection.
The first pair is a Panzerfaust Klein and a Panzerfaust 30. Both found in Northern Norway. These cleaned up beautifully and their sights are working. Both are painted in camo. The Klein is painted dark brown/grey with three panzeryellow squares. The 30 is painted dark green and has the yellow sprayed mainly on the upper side of the tube and around the firing mechanism.
The other three were found on the battlefields of Kurland, Latvia and have some nice battledamages. They are two Panzerfaust 30s and one Klein.
A few days ago I saw an add in a sales forum here in Norway and instantly bought the item. It was a small POW art box. I was amazed to see this item because a few years ago when I worked at the garbage dump I one morning rescued a POW art wooden box from the container, and they must have been made by the same guy. The one I bought came out from the neighbour town and is a bit smaller and more well kept. In the spring and early summer of 1945 Soviet POWs was waiting to be sent back to Soviet and they produced souvenirs and items like these to offer to the local population either as a trade for food etc or as a "thank you" to people who had risked their life helping the POWs.
I am a bit gobsmacked to have these two boxes in front of me now and they ll find their place in a display cabinet soon.
The box I found in the garbage container:
Both of them together: