Ever seen a NEW B-type helmet?

Ever seen a NEW B-type helmet?

Joined: August 23rd, 2003, 10:11 pm

October 22nd, 2008, 7:27 pm #1

Here's a link Ben sent me this evening.
It looks like an issued (zipped earcups are attached), but never worn B-type with an equally new D-type mask.
Very nice set. Imagine what this would fetch?!

http://s181.photobucket.com/albums/x77/ ... 20Britain/

Thanks Ben, for the link!

Cheers, Toine
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Joined: July 21st, 2008, 7:16 pm

October 22nd, 2008, 7:36 pm #2


No problem mate, happy to help. I think that this will raise a few eyebrows, so I'll post my thoughts first!

Why I think it isn't a repro:

1: it's made by frank bryon, unlike Sefton's Waerings

2: the colour of the leather is differrent to what sefton uses

3: the colour of the material next to the ear zips is a lighter shade than on Seftons helmets

4: it has the metal end tip to the chin strap

5: It has some wear on the ear cups, in this case creases, not neccesarily a distunguishing mark-but I'm just stating that someone making a repro to try and pass off as the real-thing might have overlooked this.

Now why it raised my eyebrows!

1: mainly because, I'd be interested to know, why would a pilot get the station tailor to sew on the ear cups and then not use the helmet? Even in cases where he swapped it etc the helmet may have a bit more wear than this one. This is why I think it may have been restored...
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Joined: September 8th, 2004, 10:02 pm

October 22nd, 2008, 10:51 pm #3

Hi Ben and Toine,
In the 1980's some dealer found some brand new B-type, late 30's dated, helmets unissued. Also found were some brand new zip ear doughnut assemblies. I know that a few collectors bought up sets and sewed the doughnut assemblies to the helmets. Perhaps this helmet is one of those?
The helmet in the photos is an absolute cracker - want to sell it?
Cheers
Neil
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Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

October 22nd, 2008, 11:04 pm #4

No problem mate, happy to help. I think that this will raise a few eyebrows, so I'll post my thoughts first!

Why I think it isn't a repro:

1: it's made by frank bryon, unlike Sefton's Waerings

2: the colour of the leather is differrent to what sefton uses

3: the colour of the material next to the ear zips is a lighter shade than on Seftons helmets

4: it has the metal end tip to the chin strap

5: It has some wear on the ear cups, in this case creases, not neccesarily a distunguishing mark-but I'm just stating that someone making a repro to try and pass off as the real-thing might have overlooked this.

Now why it raised my eyebrows!

1: mainly because, I'd be interested to know, why would a pilot get the station tailor to sew on the ear cups and then not use the helmet? Even in cases where he swapped it etc the helmet may have a bit more wear than this one. This is why I think it may have been restored...
Its a superb set of photos as a reference point of view, and incredible condition, but you ask is is a real one? Personally, I doubt very much if this is a genuine helmet and D mask with the other items, as issued, and feel its either a repro, or a genuine helmet and mask that has been partially restored.

To address your points Ben,

1) If you are going to repro a label, Frank Bryan is probably the best known maker, and as can be seen by Eastman A2 jackets, this style of label is easily made.
2) Helmets came in many differing shades, as repro's would do now. A 'batch' of leather if coloured would normally be the same, but make another batch and there would inveriably be colour variations. Im sure Sefton have found this too. If you got two helmets of his together made a few years apart there would almost certainly be differences. And if a repro, it may be made by anyone.
3) Again, if a repro, it could have been made by one of a dozen people, so the lighter shade would mean little compared to a Sefton helmet.
4) Metal tip to chin strap. Although Sefton didnt put this on earlier helmets I believe later ones had them. In any case its not a hard item to replicate and fit.
5) Wear on the earphone covers. Slight wear can be replicated quite easily (Eastman do a range of jackets that are pre-aged, so they are as new, but with an already 'worn in' look). Also, if a repro, used by a reinactor or the like would give it a little wear in no time.

My own thoughts are thus:

1) For one thing the whole things looks far too clean. Even with only minor handling grease from the fingers would show to some extent, and also leather and chamois dries out over time, chamois becoming darker and drier. The inside of this helmet looks to have no age at all (and I dont mean wear) but looks like brand new chamois. If a genuine helmet, I'd hazard a guess its had a new lining.
2) The earphone covers, as we know were made as seperate items, but the colour of the leather on the outside and chamois on the inside are a perfect colour match to the inside and outside of the helmet, leading me to think they were made from the same cloth and attached at the same time. After all, the helmet was manufactured by one company and the earphone covers by another totaly separately. I'm sceptical of such an identical colour match.
3) If you look at the bare metal parts on the helmet (male popper studs, bennet buckle parts, V tip etc) all are bright and shiney, as if new. However, the metal teeth on the zipped ear cover has aged. Metal tends to go a grey colour over time, especially almost 70 years. Wartime examples I have or have seen, have at least some ageing to the metal parts. It makes me wonder if new metal has been used on the helmet but original zips or zipped covers on the ears?
4) Like the helmet, the inside of the mask is just too light and clean in colour. Chamois naturally darkens with age, and even unissued ones I have seen have darkened and stiffened inside.
5) The bakalite earphone receivers are quite rough. All those ive seen, including mine are smooth, although they have wear. the only ones Ive seen like this, with bobbles and a rough casting are repro ones.
6) Again, if you look at the metalwork on the mask, the male popper studs are bright and shiney, but the metal contacts and small knuts on the mic have gone dark grey with age. I dont believe they are the same vintage.
7) The hose i would guess is a fairly modern replacement, which most have on their masks anyway, real or repro, simply because the rubber does not stand the test of time.
8) Stampings in the leather, ink stampings on the chamois and labels are no indication of age as all are very resily replicated, and have been seen on Sefton and other products.

If this is a genuine set-up, it would have had to have been sealed for almost 70 years and kept in a very hospitable environment to look that good. But for me, things like the aging to some but not all of the metal components, seemingly no ageing to the chamois etc makes this too good to be true, and leads me to believe its at least a part restoration. If it was a helmet alone, or the mask maybe, but not the whole set-up. As said, why get it wired and then have no use at all? You would expect a helmet to be issued with no earphones and receive some wear and tear, even if later, earphones were added and the helmet not used again.

If it hadnt been found in a long forgotten storeroom sealed in a box, you would expect some wear. Grandad had it in a box in the attic but it was used for a short time, grandkids played with it etc. Even when I recovered my Type 19 Mic the grease on my hands left its mark on raised parts and edges. Granted I made no effort to stop it, hoping it would take away some of the newness, but mine was dirtier than this one!

There are some very, very good manufacturers out there like Sefton, Pegasus, and even TV and film prop companies, who have made stuff that has fooled the best. Would be nice to handle it, but on the photos, for me something just isnt 100%. The ageing isnt consistent throughout, chamois too clean and seemingly to supple, hmmm not sure. Nice reference though!



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Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

October 22nd, 2008, 11:05 pm #5

Really Neil? Dont suppose you can remember who? What I'd give for a box of half a dozen unused earphone assemblies!
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Joined: September 8th, 2004, 10:02 pm

October 23rd, 2008, 2:08 pm #6

Hi Alex,
I've looked at the photos closer today. As for the B-Type, I believe that this is original. I have a similar "time capsule" condition B-Type but the interior isn't quite as super clean as Ben's, but it's close. The outer of mine is as good as Ben's. I'll send you photos Alex. email me at L4dotflyerATgmailDOTcom.
Regarding the D-mask and Type 19. Again, I have to say they look pukka. But the condition defies belief! I suppose if someone wanted to make the absolute cracking perfect repro; wouldn't the maker add a little wear?
Do you own these pieces Ben? If so - then congratulations! You may well own the best original set of RAF headgear in existence!
Stunning.
However, if we find out these are in fact "done up" - we have to be very worried for future collecting of original kit.
I think we have to be amazed that this is the real thing.
Regarding my previous comment on unissued B-types etc - I believe one buyer was one Chris John in the UK. But I don't have any contact info on him.
Cheers
Neil
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Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

October 23rd, 2008, 2:49 pm #7

Its a very interesting one. Certainly everything seems right, but just something bugs me. If a repro, its not certain wear and tear would be built in, it could be right offt the 'production line' so to speak. I must admit that the mic, loom and bell plug seem to have similar ageing throughout, so might not neccessarily have come as a complete set-up, but even mint items, such as D masks and D Mask blanking plates age through time. Leather is a natural product and needs treatment or careful handling. Its not to say its not possible, but if the mas and helmet are genuine, its survived incredibly well, far better even than museum examples I have seen, which in many cases are totally mint and unissued and kept in temperature controlled environments.

But you echo my thoughts Neil, if a repro, its very worrying. I always work on the thought if you canmake it you can fake it - be it passports, china, flying gear etc, by using the same contruction methods as originally used. There is nothing that was made in the past that cant be recreated now if you have the inclination. The value of a seemingly mint set up like this would probably be worth the cost after one sale!! If Peter Jackson can make 12 full sized Lancasters, or a company canmake flying accurate Me 262s and FW190's, nothing is impossible!
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Joined: July 21st, 2008, 7:16 pm

October 23rd, 2008, 3:54 pm #8


...firstly I have to agree with both of Alex's and Neils points, my first ones were just a generalisation.

Sadly I don't own this fantastic set-up, if I did you'd have heard about it earlier on! But I've had this page saved to my favourites for at least a year now.

Truly stunning isn't it? But as both Neil and Alex said: it may be worrying

Ben
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Joined: July 21st, 2008, 7:16 pm

October 23rd, 2008, 5:20 pm #9


...maybe whoever owns this found original stores to produce this item using period pieces to the exact standard and way that they produced it in 1939? It could be possible...the item(s) do look too new. The d-mask however is superb, and I do think it is real-there's something about it that's a lot different then any modern makers could do...just my thought.
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Joined: August 23rd, 2003, 10:11 pm

October 23rd, 2008, 9:26 pm #10

I have to agree with Ben; there's just something about it...
I make my own B-type helmet(s) and D-type mask(s), but (as with Seftons repro's) one just can't quite catch feel or patina or whatever it is. That's why I'm inclined to think I can tell when it's a repro.
Chris K has repro'ed C-types. Chris, can you confirm my observation?

Certainly the B-type looks original to me. Besides, if it was made commercially, wouldn;t we have seen a few on the forum? And why bother to make a one-off Frank Bryan label? Certainly that would be much too costly as a one-off?
Most other labels can de made convincingly with a computer and a printer with transfer paper, which would be a much cheaper option for a one-off. And it would make a much fancier label than the fairly simple Frank Bryan label.

In my opinion, the B-type is an original. It could be 'done up'; the (original) earcups could've been added recently.
The D-type I couldn't tell for sure. I know of only one firm making these and that's Sefton. I can assure you this is not a Sefton repro, unless he's changed his repros these last years.

Just my thoughts.

Cheers, Toine
Last edited by ToineS on October 23rd, 2008, 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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