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Here is a rather nice photo of 3 soldiers of the Gloucestershire Regiment. It clearly shows the neck curtain and the back badge.

What is very interesting here is that the neck curtain seems to be held in place by the puggaree rather than being simply tied on.

Regular battalions wore the brass back badge tucked into the cloth patch.

Photo Courtesy Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum

Edited by Stuart Bates

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More on the 4 seam debate. I came across this in William Jones & Co's catalogue of 1886. It shows a solid cork "Mufti helmet for private use in hot climates."

Unfortunately prices are not given so I can't say that maybe some officers wore these because they were cheaper.

Stuart

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Hi - Stuart. Still waiting for the skype phone to be sorted out. Seeing this interesting drawing, with four panels makes me wonder how many panels in our old police helmets ? They are, basically, the same construction and I know have cork as insulation/padding - what I can't remember , is was it four or, six sections. Perhaps you might know ?

Edited by Mervyn Mitton

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Hi Mervyn,

from the same catalogue here are the police helmets of 1886. Six seams are shown for Metropolitan Police but the "country" ones do not appear to have seams at all. I doubt that that could be true.

Stuart

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To add fuel to this one, one of the Osprey books has illustrations that show four panel helmets. Again, these are illustrations NOT photos, so it could be artistic license or a flat out mistake. My opinion on that one has long been that the illustrator based the helmet on the American four panel helmets of the era.

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Peter,

that does not negate the fact that 4 seam helmets were available from British sources, albeit not regulation but rather "mufti."

The illustrator, in that Osprey Book British Forces in Zuland 1879, Richard Scollins shows all helmets with 4 seams and with holes for the helmet plate and this cannot be correct.

I will attempt to contact either the author and/or the illustrator.

Stuart

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Well Richard Scollins died in 1992 and Ian Knight is a member of the Victorian Military Society - so am I. Therefore I have sent in a "Letter to the Editor" in an attempt to flush out an answer.

Stuart

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William,

with regard to the interior of the Seaforth's helmet (post #30) do you remember what the corrugated ventilation was made of? I notice that it is only present to the front and rear of the helmet and, whilst I have seen this arrangement in a Home Service Helmet (photo), I haven't seen it in a Colonial pattern before.

Stuart

Hi Stuart

My first look in for a few days so have just seen this. I am almost sure that the spacers were made of cork. I agree it's an odd arrangement.

A shame I didn't take a photo with the cover off, but it definitely was a 4-seam helmet.

Regards,

W.

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Hi Will,

I am trying to contact Ian Knight, a noted expert on the Zulu war, as it is his Osprey book that has so many illustrations of a 4 seam FSH. He is a member of the Victorian Military Society, as am I, so I have sent in a letter to the editor.

I also contacted Mike Snook, who, for me, wrote the definitive book on Isandlwana. We had a short but charming dialogue where he says that his area is tactics and strategy rather than equipment.

I will keep plugging away.

Stuart

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Welcome to the forum Jock (hope its okay to call you that)

I notice from the images of the helmet that its sitting on the wooden head display of Hogspear? He seems to a reputable trader, plenty of good material and ebay feedback from museums.

There are many much more knowlegable members here regards helmets but Hogspear as a supplier seems a good start to me.

Simon

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Welcome to the forum Jock (hope its okay to call you that)

I notice from the images of the helmet that its sitting on the wooden head display of Hogspear? He seems to a reputable trader, plenty of good material and ebay feedback from museums.

There are many much more knowlegable members here regards helmets but Hogspear as a supplier seems a good start to me.

Simon

Jock is fine, Ive been called a lot worse Simon... Good spot, yes the head is one i got in a deal from Hogspear many moons ago, in fact i think I was amongst his first buyers on eBay...its a repro head cast in solid resin, i think one of his friends makes them. Makes a good display though. The helmet I bought from another eBay seller, contacted Stuart for his opinion on it and he thought it might be good to post on the forum and see what others thought about it. I am a long time collector 30 odd years + .... i wish forums like these were around when i started, they are a wealth of knowledge for beginners. thanks for the welcome, I hope to become a regular visitor.

Jocktamson or Jock if you prefer.

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Hi Jock

I remember a few of these covers being around in the 1980s, maybe ten or twelve, and I owned one for a while. I never found a contemporary photo of one in wear (and I looked!), but they seemed to me to have some age and they were not expensive enough at that time to be worth faking and these are very well-made. Eventually I discovered a photo of a blue cloth helmet in the Green Howards museum with one of these covers, supposedly used in the 2nd Boer War because of a shortage of white helmets. That may be correct, but museums have been known to get things muddled.

The classic OR helmet cover of the Boer War is either the 4-piece, see an earlier post of mine, or the 6-piece with broad band typically found on the Indian helmet. Yours has a narrow band and would not fit an Indian helmet. I have never seen an original Indian helmet cover - the Australian one posted by Stuart is similar but the true Indian helmet has a continuous band. Those are the classics, but I am sure that other variants exist, especially for officers' helmets. However I think yours is an other ranks' cover.

It is unusual for a neck curtain to have elastic, but not impossible, especially if it were worn under the cover. That doesn't sound very neat but I have seen it done. The trouble with these is they are just too easy to make up and it is very, very hard indeed to tell an original one from a copy if old materials have been used.

The helmet seems to have age and I like the leather trim and the wear under the rear peak. I just haven't seen enough officers' white helmets to be sure whether or not it is Boer War. I'm interested to know what Stuart thinks.

To sum up, I think what you have is a genuine OR helmet cover that may be Boer War, and an uncertain neck curtain that have been added to a helmet. I feel quite sure that these did not start out together. But they are probably as good as you will get nowadays anyway without spending a truly astronomical sum.

I have a 4-piece other ranks' cover packed away somewhere. I will see if I can locate it and take some photos.

Best wishes,

W.

[Add: The waisting of the cover, and the narrow band, give it the look of a cover that is meant to have an outside puggaree as opposed to the inside puggaree of the standard white helmet or the papier-mache false puggaree of the Indian helmet. Which would support the blue cloth helmet idea.]

Edited by William1

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When I first saw this helmet on eBay, via Mike, I thought it an odd shape and this turned out to be due to its being misshapen which Jock remedied when he took delivery. My take was that it was probably a Royal Navy officer's helmet because of the manufacturer/outfitter and its being "misshapen" in the original photos. The lack of a silk attachment to the leather headband and the brown leather edging to the brim added to this but I have no information on RN Dress Regulations.

The cover fits the helmet snugly and this is a good sign. Covers with a 1" band were not uncommon, but by far the majority were made without such a band, see later 6 vs. 4 comment, and the photos that I have seen are always of the latter type with the puggaree clearly visible beneath and are ORs. There is a photo, in the Osprey book on the Royal Navy, which shows Naval officers in South Africa 1879-80 wearing blue covers with the 1" band with no puggaree underneath. I am also not convinced that the cover is an ORs' because it is in 6 panels, which is more expensive to produce than a 4 panel one, and is shown in the 1900 DRs for officers only. The WD and, presumably, the RN always had an eye to economy.

Puggarees were worn over covers but I doubt that this was a common practice because of the "unneccessary" expense, even for officers.

From Jock's photos and commentary I would say that the cover and neck curtain match but I did question the elastic as being in such good condition after 100+ years - actually Mike brought that one up - and, although elastic is not impossible it is most unusual. Perhaps it originally had a drawstring later replaced by elastic but who knows?

All over the place here but in summary I would say a RN officers helmet with cover and neck-curtain, with the helmet made prior to the 2nd Boer War and the rest added later for the Boer War.

Stuart

Edited by Stuart Bates

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Thanks for the input William, Stuart and I discussed the cover and neck cover in our correspondence, While i am by no means an expert on elastic, i mentioned to Stuart I used to collect WW1 Aviation Militaria and still have in my possession several pairs of goggles from that period all but one have retained their elasticity albiet none are in the condition that the elastic on this helmet cover is in...l am warming to Stuarts suggestion its been replaced at some point, although looking at the stitching, I can see no break in the original thread where it might have been replaced.. Initially I put the helmet under a blacklight to see the covers were not made of modern materials and certainly nothing glows under the blacklight...I know that's not a definitive test, but at least its not made of polyester!... I'll try and get some close ups of the point where the elastic joins the neck piece and hopefully get some more opinions on it then. Please do post any photos you can find of anything, when it comes to foreign service helmets, i am totally out of my depth, it appears to be a minefield and buying one from photographs on eBay certainly made my heart miss a beat. Stuarts been a fountain of knowledge and his enthusiasm for these helmets is certainly infectious... hes started me thinking maybe just one more foreign service helmet for my collection wouldnt go amiss....

cheers all.

Jock

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A minefield indeed. I have just seen a Canadian cover to an officer's helmet which features 4 panels and the 1" band. I have asked Clive if he will post it just to muddy the waters.

Stuart

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Hi Jock!

I'm the 'mike' that Stuart was referring too. I was very close to bidding on it but since i spent a pretty penny on some badges before it decided not to jump in!

I'm no expert on these but what leaps out is the rubber cotton band. There is no way this is 100 years old, even WW2 rubber bands fall to bits and they are only 60 years old! But it may not be a big issue, are there signs of it being replaced from a string band or similar so the neck and helmet cover could be ok.

Hogspear is a good guy I agree and seems totally honest. But beware, neither him or anyone can know about all the military items he sells, so he could easily be fooled into selling a repro item as genuine!

p.s. anyone know where hogspear gets his amazing stuff from?

p.p.s. I am getting a tad jealous now of your helmet.... It all looks good other than the rubber, maybe you should consider having it restored back?

Cheers Mike

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I've been looking for my 4-piece cover but can't lay my hands on it - we moved last year and some bits are still packed away. However here, from photos of my former collection, are some pictures. They are not the best, but better than nowt! First, a 6-piece cover with narrow band, just like the one posted here and as I said, one of a small batch that turned up 20+ years back, which leads me to doubt they are officers'. Though that one does fit remarkably well. Maybe they are pre-Boer War, something I hadn't considered but can see no reason why not.

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Here is a 6-piece cover with no band. It always seemed original to me, though these are very seldom seen (well seldom seen by me) in period photos.

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Lastly, here is a 6-piece cover with stylised puggaree. It is on an Indian helmet but came on its own and might have been an officer's. The nearest thing I've ever seen to the Indian helmet cover outside photos.

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Check out Phillip Haythornthwaite's The Boer War (Uniforms Illustrated #19) as it shows plenty of helmet covers without a band. It also has a photograph of three naval officers wearing white helmets without puggarees - at least to my eyes.

Stuart

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Many thanks for the examples William, I am getting a fast track education in the complexities of Foreign Service Helmets, I can see now why Peter Suciu and Stuart collaborated in producing a book about it . The first cover does look very similar

to this one. and in a similar condition. Definitely possible they came from the same batch William... I think ive got that book somewhere Stuart, will dig it out and have a look for comparison.

Anyone have any thoughts on the stitching on mine, does it look as if its been re-stitched?

Edited by jocktamson

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