Object Highlights Maritime Archaeology

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Registration Number H3888
Classification CH classification MARITIME TECHNOLOGY Diving Diver's helmet
Name or Title Diving Helmet
Production Place United Kingdom
Production Date Circa 1880
History and Use

This is an earlier style 'Pearler' helmet as identified by the non-return valve. This helmet, like other Heinke's and Siebe Gorman's demonstrates the craftsmanship that went into its manufacture, the bonnet having been hand beaten over a mould for shaping rather than being spun by machine. There are corselet (breastplate) weight loops both to the front and back of the corselet. This helmet was made in the last independent period of Heinke.

'Pearler' corselets were squared to allow the diver to bend forward to collect shell from the sea bed. They became extremely popular in the pearl fisheries of Australia and around the world and this particular type of Heinke helmet was favoured by the Torres Strait pearling industry.

Charles Edward Heinke was born on the fourth of September 1818. He was the son of a Prussian immigrant, Gottlib Fredrick Heinke who was a successful copper smith and had a business at 103 Great Portland Street, London (est. 1819). Charles was to become a very successful manufacturer of diving equipment. His first helmet appeared around 1844. Heinke worked hard to improve the Siebe style helmet and gradually gained an excellent reputation for reliability and for being better designed from the practical point of view. He later introduced an additional exhaust valve on the front of the corselet (breastplate) (these days referred to as the 'peppermill'). This device made it possible for the diver to ascend and descend fast and as often as they wished. Heinke became world famous for his 'pearler' style helmet. These helmets featured a square corselet (breastplate) allowing the diver to bend forward to pick of shell from the sea bed. Companies like Siebe, TAO, Robinson, and Morse later copied the idea.

Charles died in 1869 but his company continued. The last helmet was produced in 1961. Over the years the company name changed:
C.E.Heinke, Submarine Engineer (from 1844 - 1871), during this period Heinke had 2 to 3 different trading names split around the family.
C.E.Heinke & Co., Submarine Engineers (from 1871 - 1922).
C.E.Heinke & Co. Ltd., Submarine Engineers (from 1922 - 1961).
Until 1905, helmet featured the 'butterfly' style wing nuts, after that regular wing nuts were used.

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Registration Number H3890
Classification CH classification MARITIME TECHNOLOGY Diving Diver's helmet
Name or Title Diving Helmet
Production Place Japan
Production Date Circa 1940
History and Use

This helmet was manufactured by the TOA company in Tokyo for the northern Australian and Asian pearl fisheries. It was designed on the Heinke ‘pearler’ helmet with a square corselet that enabled the diver more freedom to bend forward AND had a more useful, larger front light (faceplate). There is a 'Heinke like' air inlet elbow and safety pin, which is a bolt that screws in from the corselet (breastplate) securing the bonnet in place.

Toa was established in 1909. This company has always produced quality helmets bearing a similarity to the Heinke, who also made pearler style diving helmets. TOA still make quality helmets and were still in business in 2007.

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Registration Number H3894
Classification CH classification MARITIME TECHNOLOGY Diving Diver's helmet
Name or Title Diving Helmet
Production Place USA
Production Date 1960s
History and Use

The Divex advanced air diving helmet was one of the earliest modern diving helmets. It is constructed of a lightweight and non-conductive fibreglass material which made it suitable for underwater cutting and welding. The helmet was originally developed by George Swindell and manufactured by Advanced Diving Equipment in Gretna, Louisiana, USA. They later merged with Beckman Instrument Company.

The helmet could be used with a corselet or with a neck ring. Using the corselet had two disadvantages; firstly, since the helmet has only one large front glass you would have to turn your whole body to look side ways and secondly, the corselet required and nut key for six sided nuts.

Divex can trace its pedigree back to an iron foundry with engineering works in Aberdeen. This company was owned by Barry, Henry & Cook.

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Registration Number H3872
Classification CH classification MARITIME TECHNOLOGY Diving Diver's helmet
Name or Title Diving Helmet
Production Place East Germany
Production Date 1950-1952
History and Use

Manufactured by the MEDizin Institute Leipzig East Germany Company. Prior to manufacturing their own diving equipment the East German Navy always used Draeger helmets but this ceased at the time the Berlin Wall was constructed and shortly thereafter a shortage of helmets arose. It is believed that MEDI produced only 250 three-bolt diving helmets for the East German Navy. As one of only 250 helmets produced, this piece is an incredibly rare example of pre-SCUBA diving equipment. These helmets were produced using two types of corselets (one round and one more sharply pointed). This helmet's corselet is an example of the latter.

In 1889 the Draeger company of Lubeck, West Germany commenced manufacturing commercial diving equipment. For nearly 50 years the Navies of East and West Germany used diving helmets made by Draeger. When the social state of the German Democratic Republic of East Germany was established in 1949 the East German Navy refused to purchase diving equipment from what was considered a ‘capitalist’ company, preferring eastern suppliers. During 1950-52 the East German Navy commissioned a series of three-bolt helmets such as this one from MEDI (Medizin Institut Leipzig East Germany). Made from copper, the helmet was fastened to the diver’s waterproof suit by three bolts, hence the name ‘three bolt’ diving helmet.

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