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Nation's Attic Diving Into History 2023

Snead Shallow Water Style 3 Cast Iron Diving Helmet 1930s

The auction will start in __ days and __ hours

Start price: $500

Estimated price: $1,000 - $2,000

Buyer's premium: 20%

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

One of the few companies other than Miller Dunn to make a commercially successful shallow water diving helmet was the EJ Willis Company. They were in New York and supplied a large assortment of equipment and helmets to the diving industry. Starting around 1933, EJ Willis had the Snead Company located in Jersey City, New Jersey, produce cast iron shallow water helmets for them. The helmets had the Snead Company name on them, therefore now commonly known as Snead helmets. The Snead Company’s primary business was the manufacturer of high-end architectural castings for use inside and out of buildings. All of their helmets are designed similarly and made of cast iron with a single window. The last model, Style 4, was made of bronze.

This specific helmet is the 3rd style of helmet Willis would produce. Made of solid cast iron, the helmet weighs approximately 65 pounds. A large curved window on the front allows the diver a good field of vision. The design of the helmet is simplistic and allows for use by almost everyone. A simple air hose fitting located at the upper back of the helmet is the extent of its mechanical function. Once the user enters the water, the buoyancy allows the helmet to rest comfortably on the shoulders while excess air exits around the lower edges. If, in the event of an emergency, the user simply leans forward, allow the helmet to fall off and the diver then goes to the surface. A simple and effective design.

The helmet exhibits a fantastic patina to the cast iron body. There are no cracks within the cast iron body. There are some casting imperfections on the surface, but nothing that is not as it was originally from the factory. The curved plastic window is present as well as the internal frame. Stainless steel screws secure the window and frame. The inside of the helmet shows some surface rust. Many people enjoy restoring these helmets as they are fairly simple to work on and test. This example has a great antique look to it and could easily be kept as is or painted.

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.