Private Purchase 1930's Flying Helmet by S.Lewis
A classic example of an inter War period flying helmet manufactured by S.Lewis. Inside the crown of the helmet is stitched a high quality woven label confirming ''S. Lewis's OF RACING FLYING & MOTOR CLOTHING FAME' with an address at 27, CARBURTON STREET LONDON. W.1. TEL. MUSEUM 4793 followed by 'No Connection with any other firm.' This was added to avoid confusion, as another manufacturer of the period operated under the trading title of ' D.Lewis of Great Portland Street, London' and the two firms wanted to establish their own identities. We have found a period S.Lewis advertisement on line featuring an identical helmet dated 1930 (marked at 25/9 to those of us who remember 'old' money!) and the pattern remained in use throughout the 1930's and into WW11. Whilst a private purchase item many RAF pilots preferred to use these in preference to the issued item and Bob Stanford Tuck is a classic example. Added to the fact all private flying was suspended once war was declared it is safe to assume many of this pattern served with the RAF and this text book example would make a fine addition to an RAF or general collection. The dark brown leather is very soft and supple and is close to mint condition. It features an adjustable wide chinstrap for added comfort and press stud leather earflaps for use with Gosport tubes which were fitted when we purchased and were offered as a standard fitting back in the 1930's. These remain in very good original condition with no fraying to the tube covers. The brow carries a leather adjustment strap to customise the helmet's fit whilst to the rear is a buckle fastening goggle retaining strap. Inside is equally crisp with signs of just very light use. The remains of the paper size label is still in place confirming the size is possibly 7 1/2 but part of the label is missing ; having tried it on it probably equates to an RAF size 3 helmet. The top specification manufacturers label has already been mentioned but an added bonus is the original owner has inked in his name one Robin Sykes. Sadly we have no history on him and whilst two 'Sykes' were members of 'The Few' in the Battle of Britain neither was called Robin. Interestingly however a picture of Sub Lieutenant John Humphrey Sykes in the excellent 'Men of the Battle of Britain' appears to show him wearing a similar helmet, thus reconfirming many of this pattern saw RAF use in WW11. In summary a very fine example that fully meets the oft quoted collectors maxim of ' always buy the best example you can afford' and this one is realistically priced with the added benefit of being fitted with Gosport tubes so the helmet is offered in service condition. All that is lacking is the DH Tiger Moth to plug it into!