Nation's Attic 2024 Diving Into History

1860 – 1880 John Date Diving Helmet Montreal Canada

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

Very, very, early and rare John Date diving helmet with hand-formed bonnet. Date was initially an importer of Augustus Siebe helmets and copied the Siebe model (1840 – 1872). This helmet has the same three light design as Siebe including Siebe’s non-adjustable exhaust in the same location of the period under the air intake elbow. In addition to Siebe’s screw-in faceplate Date manufactured helmets with a hinged face based on Sampson Barnett’s design. That style was eventually adopted by the U.S. Navy in 1916 for the Mark V helmet. Another change Date made was to have round side ports, like Heinke, not oval like Siebe. The port guards screwed to port frame externally. The early helmet manufactures often numbered the various components to be attached to helmet. On this model Date numbered the two side port guards, 1 and 2, to match the side port frames which are numbered 1 and 2. The photos show the right-side port with the number 2 port guard lining up with the number 2 port frame. The left side port is stamped number 1, but the port guard has been attached with the number 1 attached to the bottom screw hole of the port. The bonnet shell is in very good condition with expected working dents and hand-formed the castellated brazing line can be clearly seen. On the very early Date helmets the air inlet was angled to a few degrees to the left from vertical. (See Helmets of the Deep page 184. The design of this bonnet is earlier than any shown in the book.) Another feature indicating its very, very, early manufacture is that it was made prior to the introduction of a locking device. The breastplate is a hand-formed replacement of the original John Date that was lost to time. It is non-recessed like the original and is slightly irregular in its hand-formed construction. The breastplate features the early Date style of brailes with the joints at 2, 4, 8, 10 o’clock like Heinke, and not Siebe’s joints at 3, 6, 9, and 12.


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. International bidders are advised that some countries do not allow the importation of knives. Nations Attic is not responsible for shipping charges going or coming back if your countries customs denies delivery. Rejected items can be consigned into a future sale as there are no refunds.