Aeronautical Headgear British
Price = n/a
Royal Flying Corps Issue 'Featherweight' Flying Goggles
Whilst not marked with makers details, this fine set is of the Triplex design. The 'Triplex, Goggle Mask and Lens Co., Ltd', was set up separately from 'Triplex Safety Glass Co. Ltd' when the latter's 'A. B. Aero Mask' was adopted by the British Government for the RFC in 1916 and it seems likely this early set dates from this time. The design certainly featured in advertisements taken out by Triplex in 'Flight' magazine in 1916, which were made available with either clear or tinted lenses.
Our example is of the latter type and the lenses, that are in immaculate condition, carry a pale yellow tint. The chromed metal frame is hinged over the nose bridge, with sprung fabric sides and fur fitted on the inside, for added comfort. What lifts this set from the scarce to the exceptionally rare is that they carry the RFC aviation issue property mark of a Broad Arrow over an 'A' to the top of each lens frame. The majority of this pattern of goggles seems to have been private purchase items, whilst others may well have been used for early motoring. We can however guarantee this set was issued to Royal Flying Corps aircrew, and these are the first example so marked we have ever seen. Whilst we have no detail of the owner they came in with his nearly as scarce 'Fowndes' pattern gauntlets and his private purchase flying helmet, and were used together in WWI. The set is fitted with an elasticated adjustable backstrap that shows signs of service wear and whilst it has lost much of its elasticity it is fine for display purposes, and is complete with metal adjusters.
This pattern was the precursor to the RAF 'Mk II' pattern goggles, introduced in 1928 and despite being obsolete by WWII it remained current up until the Battle of Britain in 1940. The RAF Mk II is now a very scarce set itself but these RFC issue 'Featherweight' goggles are very much scarcer. This is a one-off opportunity that we are unlikely to ever be able to repeat, so grab the chance to add them to your collection whilst you can!