Nation's Attic Diving Into History 2023

AJ Morse & Son 4 Light 12 Bolt 1930s Diving Helmet

The auction will start in __ days and __ hours

Start price: $2,500

Estimated price: $5,000 - $7,000

Buyer's premium: 20%

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

This helmet was made by arguably the most famous American helmet maker, the A.J. Morse & Son Company. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, this company started 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 Wisconsin.

This helmet was made during 1930s. The helmet has a copper body with brass hardware, all of which are present. The helmet features the original A.J. Morse & Son Inc. brass ID plate. Morse would put the serial # of the helmet on both the bonnet and breastplate neck rings and the four brails. This example features the matching number in all 6 locations. This serial # also allows us to generally date the helmet. The serial number of this helmet is 3325.

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 four lights (windows) with a communications cup installed on the divers front right of the bonnet. The exhaust is along the divers right side of the bonnet and the communications fitting is on the left. The air fitting is located on the back center of the bonnet. A Morse Diving Equipment Inc. stamped non-return valve is attached to the air elbow. A spring-loaded safety pin is present on the back to prevent separation of the bonnet and breastplate while the diver was underwater.

As can be seen in the photos, the helmet is in very nice original condition. Surprisingly, much of the factory tinning is still intact. A wonderful visual nod to the helmets use is the tinning loss on the breastplate where the weight belt straps rubbed on it. Over the brass ID plate is a thick piece of leather with a ring attached to the two studs. All four of the Morse brails with serial numbers are present. Twelve wing nuts, four copper brail shims, port guards, port glass, internal air vents, front communications fittings, neck ring gasket, are all intact and original. The bonnet exhibits numerous small working dents, none of which are severe. The bonnet and breastplate thread together with ase as well as the faceplate.

Such a classic original American commercial helmet like this does not come on the market often. Compared to Mark V helmet, these can be considered quite scarce.

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.