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The study of helmets markings is a field unto itself. Are there anymore markings such as beneath the bale or on the underside of the liner etc?
I can't be of much help but I'm inclined to believe the marking you show is either a steel batch or heat treat code.

There are militaria forums and great war forums out there where you might appeal to a much more familiar audience. Give this post some time. There are contributors with a wide range of interests and perhaps a few of them could shorten your hunt for an answer.
 

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Other than heat #, American WW1 helmets are not marked with a specific manufacturer. A really good book on American helmets is Steel Pot: The History of America's Steel Combat Helmets by Chris Arnold.
 
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