nations-attic-top-logo

Nation's Attic Diving Into History 2023

US Navy Mark V Diving Helmet 9-1-44 Miller Dunn

The auction will start in __ days and __ hours

Start price: $4,500

Estimated price: $9,000 - $14,000

Buyer's premium: 20%

Sales Tax: On the lot's price and buyer's premium

The US Navy Mark V is arguably the most iconic helmet design ever made. Its style and history have made it one of the most popular helmets among collectors worldwide. The model was made for the US Navy from 1916 till the mid-1980s. After the US Navy adopted the Mark 12 helmet for use, there were still three makers of the Mark V helmet for commercial and recreational use, Morse & DESCO (Diving Equipment and Supply Co) and recently Schrader.

During the entire production run of the Mark V there have only been 4 manufacturers. 3 of those makers made the Mark V in relatively large numbers throughout the 20th Century. The one company that would only make the Mark V from 1943 to 1944 was Miller Dunn. Examples of the Mark V from this company are considered by far the most difficult to locate! With a production run of only 1200 to 1500 helmets, the Miller Dunn Mark V is the rare one!

Miller Dunn was located in Miami, FL. Starting in 1916 the company would make the Divinhood. This helmet was a shallow water model that the US Navy would go on to use. From 1916 to the end of World War 2, Miller Dunn would produce the Divinhood, evolving from the 1st model to their Style 3 Divinhood, also used by the US Navy. This experience in helmet manufacturing and relationship with the US Government undoubtedly led to a brief contract to produce the Mark V helmet.

This helmet was made on September 1st, 1944. This information is on the lead Mark V ID plate. Per government specifications, all Mark V helmets were to be dated with at least the month and year it was produced. In addition to the date, the helmets serial number is also stamped on the ID plate. Miller Dunn elected to use a lead ID plate, which resulted in many of their ID plates being marked or worn down easily, leading to helmet information being difficult to read. This specific ID plate has survived in relatively good condition.

In addition to the date of manufacturer, Miller Dunn Mark V helmets feature a serial number, in this case, 822. Miller Dunn would also stamp the serial number on the inside of all four brails and the inside of both neck rings. This helmet we are pleased to report, has all 4 brails and both neck rings with the same matching serial number! This is absolute proof the entire helmet has been together since it left the Miami, FL factory in 1944. In addition, the serial number was also stamped on the top edge of the faceplate frame. A number 4 is also stamped on the communications cup.

On the inside of the helmet bonnet, the original air vents are present. The helmet is complete with all 12 correct wing nuts, 4 serial number matching brails, window guards, glass, window guard screws, air fitting, BTE exhaust, spitcock valve, dumbbell safety latch. There is a remnant of the original communications wire on the inside of the bonnet. The safety latch chain and cotter pin are missing. The original neck ring gasket is long gone.

This helmet does retain the communications elbow cap with internal communication hardware present. A scarce non-return valve made by Bomar Corporation is threaded on the air elbow. The helmet was professionally polished decades ago. The result is a beautiful consistent luster that has developed a slight patina of the years. The original glass is frosted over, likely from the polishing process. This is the rarest World War 2 Mark V and a very beautiful full serial numbers matching example!

All diving helmets in this auction will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Nations Attic. The certificate will have a unique number that will match the number on a tamperproof hologram decal placed inside the helmet. This information will be kept on permanent file at Nations Attic and help ensure the provenance of the helmet and authenticity. The display stand shown in the photos is not included. The option to purchase one after the auction will be provided.

All items will be shipped with a signature required upon delivery and full insurance either via FedEx or the USPS Priority Mail. Worldwide shipping is available; however, no ocean freight will be offered on large items. DHL Express is an option for international shipments under 600 pounds via air. Payment via bank wire for customers outside the USA is required. A shipping quote prior to the auction can be provided by emailing your postal code.