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Nation's Attic Diving Into History 2023

1943 US Navy Mark V DESCO Diving Helmet w/ Incredible Story

The auction will start in __ days and __ hours

Start price: $3,000

Estimated price: $6,000 - $8,000

Buyer's premium: 20%

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

Presented here is an example of the famed United States Navy Mark V diving helmet. This example was made by Diving Equipment & Salvage Company (DESCO) in Milwaukee, WI. As you will read below, this helmet comes with an incredible and inspiring story.

This Mark V was born on December 1st, 1943 with serial number 752. DESCO only started producing the Mark V for the US Government in late 1942. That means this is the 752nd example made by this fine company which is still in business. In addition to being a historical WW2 example, it also has an incredible discovery story!

In the 1970s, a Cuban man stumbled upon an extraordinary discovery while walking along a dirt road near the Guantanamo Bay naval base. Buried in the dirt and sand was an old diving helmet, its copper gleaming faintly in the sunlight. Intrigued by his find, he carefully unearthed the helmet and carried it home.

Over the following years, the helmet became a prized possession, its gleaming surface a testament to the mans resourcefulness. It was eventually displayed in a local bar, where it attracted the attention of patrons and became a source of curiosity and admiration.

In the early 1980s, the helmet’s owner and his cousin hatched a daring plan to escape Cuba. They recognized the helmet’s potential value and decided to use it as a means to secure their freedom.

With the helmet in tow, the two men embarked on a perilous journey, first traveling to a tourism convention in Canada under the pretense of promoting Cuban tourism. However, their true intentions lay elsewhere.

After the trade show ended, the men slipped away from their government-sanctioned activities and sought refuge with sympathetic friends in Canada. The Mark V helmet, their prized possession, remained with them as a symbol of their yearning for freedom.

Knowing that simply crossing the border into the United States would be too risky, they decided to venture into the unforgiving Ontario wilderness, making their way towards the American border. After a grueling trek, they finally crossed into the United States, where they were met by friends and family who transported them to safety in Miami, Florida.

In 1985, the two men, now settled in Miami, decided to sell their treasured helmet. They placed an advertisement in the local newspaper, and soon the owner of a diving firm responded with interest.

Through a neighbors translation, the men recounted their remarkable journey, highlighting the helmets role in their escape to freedom. Touched by their story, the diving equipment owner purchased the helmet, vowing to preserve its historical significance.

Around 1990, the new owner sent the helmet to DESCO. Upon inspection, DESCO confirmed the helmet’s authenticity and its origins with the US Navy. They wisely advised the owner to preserve the helmet in its original condition, as its imperfections bore witness to its extraordinary history.

Due to corrosion, the bonnet and breastplate have not been separated, as well as the wing nuts and brails. Any helmet that went through this kind of adventure will have some issues to go with the story. The breastplate is pushed in under the neck ring. Two of the breastplate studs with corresponding wing nuts are gone. A portion of the BTE exhaust valve wheel is gone. The dumbbell safety latch on the bonnet is partially gone. The internal air vents in the bonnet are gone. With these issues, the helmet still retains a complete appearance. With the accompanying story of its discovery and journey, the imperfections it has are reminders of its incredible history. We hope the next owner will retain this history and preserve the helmets inspiring story for future generations.

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.