Weekly Auctions of Exceptional Items
Log In
lots of lots
Lot 0056

One of the most desirable and rare American diving helmets is the 5 bolt pattern made by the A.J. Morse company in Boston, Massachusetts. This style of helmet was used by the US Navy in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century before the Mark V came out in 1916. Commercial divers would also use this style during these time periods as well.

This model is unique in that the bonnet (top) and breastplate (bottom) are secured together via 5 large bolts at the neck ring. Traditionally helmets were threaded together, but this style was favored by some. While the US Navy used the 5 bolt pattern, helmets in their inventory were generally retro-fitted into a threaded style, making the surviving 5 bolt helmets quite rare!

This beautiful original example was made circa 1906. The helmets ID plate is present and easy to read – A.J. Morse & Son (Inc); Boston, Mass; U.S.A. We are able to put a general date on this helmet from its serial numbers, which are located at both neck rings and on the brails. The serial numbers do match on all locations. The communications cup is stamped Patented Jan 10, 1899.

The helmet is complete with all 12 wing nuts, 4 brails, window guards, glass, 5 neck ring bolts, window guard screws, air fitting, exhaust, and communications fitting. Inside the bonnet the original air vents are intact as well as a vintage reproducer (speaker) with wiring running to the communications fitting.

In terms of condition, this helmet can easily be considered an excellent example. It is free of any noticeable, objectionable or large dents. The very top of the bonnet is in amazing condition, very rare for a helmet 113 years old! The helmet also retains traces of its original tinning finish and over the years has developed a wonderful patina on the copper and brass parts.

In 1916 the US Navy printed a diving manual. In that publication, they defined the types of helmets that were in use by the Navy up to 1916. A 5 bolt Morse helmet, like this one, was classified as a Mark 1. This specific helmet matches all the criteria for that classification with the exception of the communications fitting style used on the upper front right of the bonnet. This style of fitting in this location is unusual, giving this helmet possibly a 1 of a kind look and configuration. Regardless, the helmet is a very rare and desirable investment quality piece and a special piece of American diving history.

Display stand shown in photos is not included with helmet. The option to purchase one after the auction will be provided. All helmets will be shipped in two double boxed boxes via FedEx. Worldwide shipping available. A shipping quote prior to the auction can be provided by emailing your postal code.


Original Serial #'s matching.

Buyer's Premium

  • 15%

Rare A.J. Morse & Son 5 Bolt Diving Helmet Circa 1906

Estimate $15,000 - $25,000Sep 14
Auction Curated By:
Don Creekmore
Auction Curator