Aeronautical Headgear British
Price = n/a
Royal Flying Corps Private Purchase Flying helmet by Dunhill
In WWI manufacturers and retailers cottoned on to the new and urgent demand for quality flight clothing. In the early stages of WWI virtually no issue kit existed so until the Ministry pulled their socks up those who could afford it had to rely on commercial sources. The Dunhill advertisement attached at the end of our listing is interesting. It is a copy of an original ad from 'Aeroplane' magazine and is dated 1917. It is quite clear Dunhill were by then offering flight clothing made to ministry patterns and specifications and you can see RFC pattern flying gauntlets, Fug Boots, Mk I goggles mask and Triplex lightweight goggles illustrated. Even when issue items came on stream some (mainly Officers) preferred to purchase privately themselves in the hope of getting better quality and as a result the dividing line between issue and private purchase kit is often blurred. In the advertisement the' flying cap ' shown is of very similar design to our example.
Our helmet remains in remarkably original condition, despite probably being over 100 years old. The full grain leather remains soft and flexible, the stitching is strong and no damage or repairs. The helmet is partially fur lined with blanket lining in the crown. Generally, the fur is good with just slight moulting in places. The chin strap is spot on and all the metal eyelets are unusually still in place. The buckle is near mint condition and in itself is interesting as it is the larger size and leather covered. On RFC issue helmets the Ministry insisted on leather covered buckles (we assume due to metal freezing at 10,000' in winter) and this is a feature Dunhill have clearly incorporated from the issue pattern. The font flap is held in the up position by a stud and can be raised or lowered according to preference; the female popper is marked ADR-England.
Inside the helmet is equally good. The fabric lining shows light service wear only and the woven Dunhill's label is a real bonus so we know the helmets origins and with a quality London brand like Dunhill it is likely to have been an expensive helmet back in the day. Sadly it is not named and we have no provenance with this example. Whilst the size is not marked the helmet would equate to about a size 58. The Triplex 'lightweight' pattern goggles shown in the opening picture are for display purposes only and are not included in this sale.