Nation’s Attic Inc.’s “Diving Into History” auction on December 9th yielded a remarkable sale: a mid-19th century, handmade copper and brass diving helmet, believed to be an early John Date model, fetched a staggering $54,000.
Unveiling a Hidden Treasure
This exceptional helmet, crafted with meticulous detail, bears no identifying marks but whispers secrets of its past through its unique construction. The skillful soldering of copper pieces and the use of convex glass point to its creation by master metalworkers in the 1860s or 1870s. Its style further hints at a possible origin with John Date in Montreal, Canada, or the renowned Siebe Gorman company in London, England.
A Rare Survivor
Diving helmets from this era are highly sought-after collectibles, but finding one in such unaltered condition is a truly rare occasion. Many helmets were lost to wars and metal shortages, while others were modified as diving technology evolved. The result of such economic and political events means a precious few original diving helmets from the mid-1800s exist today in museums or private collections.
The Helmet’s Value
To date, the market for antique diving helmets has lived, on average in the $4000 to $8000 range. In the past few years’ popular helmets such as the US Navy Mark V have been commonly sold in the $10,000 range and more. While most diving helmets made in the 20th century are quite collectible, they rarely exceed prices of $20,000. The previous high price for a diving helmet sold by Nation’s Attic was $28,175.
The Helmet’s Discovery
The helmet was part of a small collection of antique diving equipment discovered in North Carolina. An individual with a good eye for quality antiques acquired it decades ago and enjoyed it in his personal collection. Upon his passing, his widow contacted Nation’s Attic to sell the collection in their Winter 2023 Diving Into History auction. While many of the items in the collection sold for very high prices, the 19th-century helmet was a huge surprise to the family.
About Nation’s Attic Inc.
Nation’s Attic Inc. is the largest dealer of authentic vintage and antique diving helmets in the world. They conduct public online auctions as well as private sales of authentic diving helmets.
- The auction took place on December 9th, 2023.
- The helmet is believed to be an early John Date model made in Canada or the UK.
- The helmet was discovered in North Carolina.
- Nation’s Attic Inc. is the largest dealer of authentic vintage and antique diving helmets in the world.