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Lot 0020


This helmet was made by arguably the most famous American helmet maker, the A.J. Morse & Son Company. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, this company would start making diving helmets and related equipment in the 1830s. Morse would design some of the most iconic helmets ever conceived. In addition to helmets, the company would make all other related diving equipment as well as fire fighting gear. Morse helmets are known worldwide by divers for almost 200 years! Morse would be one of the original makers of the US Navy Mark V. They would produce this helmet from 1916 till the mid-1980s for the US Navy. The company is still in business today in Milwaukee, WI.

This incredible helmet was made in late 1919. The helmet has a copper body with brass hardware, all of which is present. The helmet features the original A.J. Morse & Son Inc. brass ID plate. Morse would put the helmets serial # on both bonnet and breastplate neck rings and the four brails. This example features the matching number in all 6 locations. This serial # allows us to put a date of manufacturer on it. In addition, based on our serial # research and documenting a Morse Mark V only 24 numbers off made in July of 1919, we can with confidence state the specific year this helmet was made.

Starting in the late 1910s A.J. Morse started using round windows on the side of their commercial helmets. This example is a wonderful example of what Morse would call their Improved Safety Diving Helmet. This example has 4 lights (windows) with a communications cup installed on the front of the bonnet. The exhaust is along the right side of the bonnet and communications fitting on the left. The air fitting is located on the back center of the bonnet. A vintage non-return valve is still attached to the air fitting as well. The non-return valve does have a US Navy inspection stamp on it and was made by A. Schraders Son, dating the part to WWII. A spring-loaded safety pin is present on the back to prevent separation of the bonnet and breastplate while the diver was underwater. The helmet is a classic example of what a commercial diver would have relied upon.

The helmet is in unmistakable original condition. The copper body retains much of its original tinning, which would help prevent saltwater corrosion. Almost all helmets made by Morse would have a tinning applied to the copper body. Over time this tinning would wear off from use or polishing. The helmet is complete with all its glass, 12 wing nuts, four brails, exhaust valve, air fitting, window guards, internal air vents, safety pin, and very old communications speaker inside. The helmet exhibits only a few minor working dents. There is the telltale sign of use on the breastplate where rope and a weight belt have rubbed off some of the tinning. These subtle signs of use in our opinion really make this helmet come alive!

If you enjoy antiques or diving helmets in original untouched condition, this helmet will certainly speak to you. The look and patina this helmet has is something that can not be replicated and is difficult to find in the 21st Century. The helmets full serial #s matching status along with its completeness elevate this helmet into a true investment level piece and one to be proud to own.

All helmets sold & auctioned by Nations Attic Inc. will come with a certificate of authenticity (COA). This COA will have a serial # on it that will match the # on a tamperproof holographic decal placed on the inside of the helmet. This level of security and long term assurance of the helmets authenticity is un-matched in the industry and very important to us.

The display stand shown in the photos is not included. 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.

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1919 AJ Morse Antique Diving Helmet - Amazing Patina

Estimate $4,000 - $6,000Dec 07, 2019
Starting Bid $2,000
Wichita, KS, USA
Auction Curated By:
Don Creekmore
Auction Curator