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Very Rare A. Schrader's Son US 5 Bolt US Navy Mark 2

Discovering a helmet like this rare example is one of the best parts of our job! In almost all cases, helmets of this vintage and style have been modified numerous times by divers or the military to meet their needs - but not this time.....

Before there was the U.S. Navy Mark V there were Marks I – IV. The US Navy actually used the five-bolt pattern Schrader helmets and defined them in 1916 as the US Navy Mark II. In many cases, the bolt-style helmets were modified or updated by the US Navy. The update involved removing the large thick neck rings and replacing them with a threaded or interrupted thread style neck ring - common on most copper/brass helmets in the 20th Century. Just a small percentage of 5 bolt Mark II helmets remained in the original state, this being one of those!

Actually, both the Mark I and II helmets had bolt neck rings, the Mark 1's only difference was that it was made by the A.J. Morse & Son Company. This example is in excellent condition and retains the weight lanyard hooks that the front and back lead chest weight ropes would run through. The navy favored weight belts and not chest weights, another standardization that came with the introduction of the Mark V. These early Schrader helmets feature a very large breastplate, as seen on this excellent surviving model.

The brass Schrader ID plate features serial #742. This serial number dates the helmet's production to the 1900 to 1910 time period. While we can not prove the helmet was in US Navy inventory, there is a good chance this was. As can be seen in the photos, the helmet is in beautiful condition with an amazing patina. All the brass hardware is intact. Inside the bonnet the air vents are present. The crown of the bonnet does have just a few minor working dents. If one looks really hard there is also evidence of expert repairs made to the copper in a couple of spots many decades ago. It is safe to say that a finer example of a Schrader 5 bolt helmet in US Navy Mark II configuration would be virtually impossible to find, much less purchase.

 

A 1907 A. Schrader’s Son, Inc., New York catalog shows a drawing of an “Improved Bolt Helmet,” with three – windows and what looks like a 4 – bolt neck ring. Another drawing shows a four–window interrupted thread helmet listed as “Improved Screw Helmet.” A photograph of a third helmet, which is a four–window helmet with a 5 – bolt neck ring, is listed as “Improved Bolt Helmet with Telephone attached.”

 

In the years leading up to the development of the USN Mark V helmet, the Schrader company is believed to have had a slight advantage over Morse in their relationships with the U.S. Navy. According to company literature, during World War One (1914 – 1918), “A tank was installed in our plant and connected with a pressure system. Through the development of air pressure in the tank, it was possible for Navy divers to conduct tests equivalent to actual operations at various depths.” No doubt some of the results from these tests were of use when developing the USN Mark V system that was introduced in 1916.

 

This helmet without a doubt falls into the investment level category of helmets. Regardless of the size of a private or institutes collection, this helmet would stand out as a key piece of American diving history.