1890's A. Schrader's Son US 5 Bolt US Navy Mark II - Very Rare!
This antique helmet is a very rare, and completely original, early model USN Mark II with the manufacturer’s name stamped in to the front of the upper neck ring. Later models would have a manufacturer’s plaque attached to the front of the breastplate. This helmet is late 1800’s and retains some original tinning and distinctive early features.
According to research published on the Diving Heritage website, German immigrant August Schrader started manufacturing diving equipment in 1849 in New York. Like his competitor Andrew J. Morse, it is most likely that he manufactured a three – window commercial helmet through most of the 1800’s before adding bolt helmets to his products. These two models of helmet, later with the option of three or four windows, seem to have been the only styles manufactured up to the introduction of the USN Mark V in 1916.
An A. Schrader’s Son, Inc., New York, catalog that has the date 1907 in it, 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.
The helmet does retain original air vents and even remnants of old cloth covered communication line inside the bonnet. Externally all the critical hardware is still in place including the glass. A fantastic patina covers the helmet giving it a one of a kind appearance. The bonnet does have numerous vintage repairs and very shallow working dents, all of which are to be expect of a helmet this old.
Many of these bolt helmets were later converted or modified into interrupted thread style helmets by the US Navy and even commercial dive companies. For this reason and simply age, only a very few of these original bolt helmets like this still exist. Their unique design, size, weight and place in diving history make them prime investment pieces and prized pieces of any collection.
According to the 1916 US Navy Diving manual the follow characteristics belong to the Mark II.
Bolt type; wide breastplate; screw faceplate; round top and side windows; “Schrader” type regulating escape valve, telephone, safety valve and air inlet connection; manufactured by A. Schrader’s Son (Inc.), Brooklyn, N.Y.