Military Helmets

wikicollecting

wikicollecting

2015-06-26 10:40:35

Military Helmets are an area of militaria collectibles encompassing a type of personal armour designed to protect the head during combat.

A helmet is described by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘a defensive cover for the head; a piece of armour, usually made of, or strengthened with, metal, which covers the head wholly or in part’.

 

Collecting

Collectors of military helmets often focus their collection on a particular time period or event, such as a war or battle in which helmets were worn.

Previous ownership has a huge bearing on the value and desirability of helmets. Those previously owned by a famous figure are very sought-after. Helmets are among the most valuable and popular collectible items of antique armour.

Some of the most popular items include Napoleonic era helmets, ancient helmets, and World War I helmets.

Collectors may obtain military helmets through antique auctions, antique fairs, antique shops, and inheritance. Many are discovered by enthusiasts with metal detectors. Helmets as far back as the 5th century BC have come to auction, and examples exist of helmets even older, stretching back to around the 20th century BC.

Reproduction or replica military helmets are common, produced for re-enactments or media purposes or historical interest. Anyone looking for the real deal with a military helmet must be wary of replicas as there are many available, some exact recreations of artefacts, right down to antique methods of production.

History

Helmets are one of the oldest forms of personal protective equipment. Their history can be traced as far back as the 23rd century BC, when they were worn Akkadians/Sumerians, then by the Mycenaean Greeks since 17th century BC, the Assyrians around 900 BC, ancient Greeks and Romans, throughout the Middle Ages, and right up until the end of the 17th century.

The construction of helmets developed as necessity dictated, with the development of the weapons employed against the protection they could provide, as well as the influence of the changing available materials. They started out, as with armour, made from leather and brass. As use of bronze and iron became widespread during those respective ages, they developed into stronger allies.

After around 950AD, helmets came to be made purely of forged steel. These were military equipment, used to protect the head from swords, arrows, and musketry.

The introduction of rifled firearms saw an end to use of helmets in a military capacity after 1700. However, the Napoleonic era gave rise to ornate cavalry helmets for cuirassiers and dragoons, which continued to be worn in battle up until the middle of World War I.

During World War I, the need for steel helmets was recognised as use of artillery increased. The French Adrian helmet and the British Brodie helmet were the first modern steel helmets used on the battlefield. These were followed by the adoption of similar steel helmets such as the Stahlhelm by other participants. They were extremely necessary to protect soldiers from shrapnel and fragments blown into the air during trench warfare.

Combat helmets continued to be adapted for modern warfare, equipped with helmet covers for camouflage, video cameras, and night vision goggles.

World’s most expensive military helmet

The Crosby Garrett helmet, a bronze Roman helmet found in Cumbria, UK, sold for £2.3 million at Christie's in October 2010.

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