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Nation's Attic Diving Into History 2023

1919 A.J. Morse & Son 4 Light 12 Bolt Diving Helmet

The auction will start in __ days and __ hours

Start price: $2,000

Estimated price: $4,500 - $6,000

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. The company is still in business today in Wisconsin.

This incredible helmet was made circa 1919. The helmet features a copper body with brass hardware, all of which is present. The helmet retains the original A.J. Morse & Son Inc. brass ID plate. Morse originally stamped the helmet serial # on both the bonnet and breastplate neck rings and the four brails. This example features the matching serial number on both neck rings, #2684. This serial # allows us to put a date of manufacturer on the helmet.

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) and 12 bolts. A communications elbow fitting is on the front of the bonnet. The exhaust is located on the divers back right of the bonnet. The air fitting is located on the back center of the bonnet. A dumbbell safety latch 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 as found condition. The helmet is complete with all its glass, port guards, 12 wing nuts (5 flanged and 7 standard), exhaust valve, air fitting, window guards, internal air vents, safety latch, old rope, and communications fitting. There are four brails with this helmet. The two front brails fit the helmet, the two back do not. All four brails are Morse, but they are not serial numbered. The two back brails may be bent or simply not original to the helmet. All the brails are the same style and have a consistent patina. There are two small holes in the bonnet behind the divers left port which are hardly noticeable. The bonnet and breastplate do thread together as they should as well as the faceplate.

The helmet exhibits only a few minor working dents on the top of the bonnet. Over time this helmet appears to have had a communications cup removed, which was on the divers right front on the bonnet. An incredible consistent patina from many years of use really makes this helmet stand out visually. The countless signs of use, in our opinion, really make this helmet come alive!

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.