Diving Helmet

Production date
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Object detail

C. E. Heinke & Co. Ltd. 'Pearler' Diving Helmet, c. 1940s (England)
12 bolt, 3 light (window) Standard Dress Diving Helmet with square corselet.
MARITIME TECHNOLOGY Diving Diver's helmet
Production date
Production place
Height 481mm (measured from base of corselet to highest point on bonnet)
Width 351mm (measured between two widest points of of the bonnet and corselet included)
Depth 439mm (measured between the most forward projection of the bonnet/corselet and the furtherest rear projection of the bonnet/corselet)
Media/Materials description
copper, brass, lead, glass, rubber
C.E. Heinke & Co. Ltd
C.E. Heinke & Co. Ltd Submarine Engineers
History and use
Although almost identical to the other Heinke 'Pearler's' in the Langley Collection, this helmet dates to a later period. While serial numbers were repeated and company records have been lost, the non-return inlet valve (at the rear of the bonnet) is of a later type and is fitted with a telephone connection.

This helmet features the distinctive square corselet known as a 'Pearler, which enabled the diver to bend over more easily to pick up the pearl shells. 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.

The company name is stamped on the brails part of the corselet (breastplate) which reads: C. E. Heinke & Co. Ltd, Heinke was only a limited company between 1922 until 1961.

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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