Nation’s Attic sets auction record for WWII diving helmet

WWII diving helmet

1916 U.S. Navy Morse Mark V diving helmet. Sold for $24,780. Nation’s Attic image

WICHITA, Kan. – Nation’s Attic Inc.’s July Antique Diving Helmet, Vintage Scuba & Maritime auction on July 18 drew a new company record number of bidders from around the world. The 300-lot auction conducted online had nearly 1000 bidders participating from around the world. Very high prices across all categories of antique and vintage diving equipment were realized. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

The highlight of the auction was the earliest known all original U.S. Navy Mark V diving helmet from 1916 selling at $24,780.

Possibly setting a record for a World War II U.S. Navy Mark V was a 1943 example made by Diving Equipment & Salvage Co. selling for $18,880.

WWII diving helmet

1943 U.S. Navy DESCO Mark V small volume diving helmet. Sold for $18,880. Nation’s Attic image

A 1912 A.J. Morse helmet in excellent condition found a new home at $8,850.

WWII diving helmet

1912 A.J. Morse & Son diving helmet. Sold for $8,850. Nation’s Attic image

Late 20th century diving helmets also were a big hit. A Joe Savoie helmet dating to the late 1970s sold for $7,670. A fiberglass Helinaut 500 sold for $6,195. A fiberglass General Aqudyne AH-2 helmet almost doubled its high estimate price, selling at $4,838. Overall, all diving helmets from the 19th and 20th centuries resulted in spirited bidding.

The auction also featured over 100 lots of vintage scuba diving equipment from the 1950s and 1960s. Double hose regulators by companies such as U.S. Divers, Viking, Voit, Divair, Kaiman, Sportsways, Healthways and others received intense bidding.

The top-selling regulator was an early Aqua-Lung that was actually in pieces, selling for $1,534. An Aqua-Master model regulator unused in the original box received eight bids, going for $826. Lots of interest was placed on a “Shark Dart,” which got the point across in a big way, selling for $560.50. Spearguns, underwater cameras, diving knives, and scuba equipment catalogs rounded out that portion of the auction, all receiving active bidding.

Vintage and antique diving-related books received a large amount of international bidding. A copy of 100 Years of Air Control sold for $442.50. Jacques Cousteau’s first book from 1946 went for $354. An 1899 special edition of Caleb West Master Diver with a pre-sale estimate of $20 to $40 sold for $295. A Pictorial History of Diving sold for $295 as well. While probably not the most exciting read but full of important historical details, a 1962 U.S. Navy technical manual for the Viking double hose regulator sold for $295. The highest price for reading material was $501.50, which was a 27-year run of Journal of Diving History produced by the Historical Diving Society.

Rounding out the auction was a segment of maritime and salvaged items off ships and submarines.  An Australian World War II flare gun had spirited bidding, resulting in an $826 sale. Lights made by the Lovell Dressel Co. sold for $708, $649, and $560.50. A foghorn blasted past its estimate, bringing in $531. A Henry Browne & Sons Sestrel ships clock ticked well past its estimate, settling at $501.50. A favorite among many bidders was an explosion-proof light and switch from a submarine, which brought $383.50. All prices include 18% buyer’s premium.

Nation’s Attic Inc.’s owner, Don Creekmore, noted that “despite COVID-19 concerns, bidding across all areas of antique & vintage diving equipment was very strong. While the copper & brass diving helmets were the stars of the event, items in all price categories generally exceed our expectations.”

Nation’s Attic Inc will conduct its next antique diving helmet and memorabilia auction in November 2020. Consignments are currently being accepted. Contact Don Creekmore at, 316-371-1828.

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