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RFC Warren helmet, Pattern 2

RFC Warren helmet, Pattern 2

Code: H25930


Early safety flying helmet initially designed in 1912 by Mr. Warren of Hendon.  The 'Warren' helmet was manufactured exclusively by Tautz & Co. of Grafton Street, London.  The firm's proprietor,  Mr. C. H. Curtis, modified and improved the original design, lodging a new patent in 1914 for the 'Aviators Safety Helmet, No.2'.  The helmet was manufactured with a double-skin shell of cork and thin sprung steel plate.  The lower part of the helmet crown is surrounded with a wide padded band, separated from the lining/inner 'harness' with a thick layer of foam rubber cushioning.  The outside of the helmet is covered in a proofed brown cloth with the appearance of leather.  The inner crown is lined with cotton and has an adjustable leather 'harness' whilst the lower side-panels are lined with suede/chamois.  Fitted with brass 'wheel'  inserts at ear level to aid communication.  This safety helmet had excellent shock absorbing qualities in case of accidents.  Warren himself was keen to prove this and demonstrated by hurling himself headfirst at a wall and even letting others strike his head with hammers!  The original Warren helmet was sealed as a pattern in August 1914 (Pattern No. 8115).  Keen to protect his design, Curtis appears to have applied for a patent for this 'No.2 Improved "Warren" Safety Helmet', the file number assigned to the application being '17855'.  Curtis then eronously used this number on the label as 'Patent No.17855', wich in fact was never granted! Tautz continued to manufacture the helmets but other firms were contracted in order to fulfill War Department contracts.  Warren helmets were popular with both RFC & RNAS trainees.  This example was manufactured by famed hat maker Christy's, of London and Stockport, with the firm's details gold embossed into the lining.  Condition is generally very good.  The overall shape is excellent and the leathercloth remains largely undamaged bar wear on a few exposed edges and parts of the chinstrap area.  The cloth lining appears undamaged but there is surface wear and some flaking to the leather harness.  The suede on the earflaps is very good.  The single pronged buckle has surface corrosion and there is wear/cracking of the supporting leather strap.  The biggest issue is that the band of foam rubber cushioning has hardened completely, cracking and disintegrating.  Pieces do remain but they are loose and tend to shed dust.  The rubber could be removed completely and stored separately or perhaps fixed in position somehow.  Either way, this isn't at all obvious when the helmet is displayed.  Paper labels, 'No.2 Aviators Safety Helmet' and '7' are glued inside.  Overall this is a very good example of an exceedingly rare helmet.  At over 100 years old this is a genuine antique.  Fabulous!  Stock code H25930.

WIth thanks to Graham Potts for details regarding the Patent application.