Original Pre-WWII British Officer Pith Helmet by Hawkes & Co Saville Row London
Original Item: Only one available. Pith Helmets are what we might call a Sun hat but in early Victorian times these were known as Topees. First introduced in the early 19th century, these sun helmets were intended for use in the extremely hot steamy weather found in the far-flung corners of the empire.
Traditionally made out of cork these were both lightweight and versatile. Although originally intended for civilian use the military immediately saw the great advantages these provided. All through the Victorian age manufacturers were producing new models and many can be dated from the style.
The view of red-coated soldiers wearing their white or tan Pith Helmets in the Zulu Wars are very poignant to many a historian. The truth is that very romantic model was really not very efficient and the renowned General SIR GARNET WOLSELEY introduced a much larger design, named after him, that not only was far superior became standard by WW1. The Wolseley Helmet was enormous, always reminded one of an upturned canoe.
Clearly many officers also agreed because during WW1 the "Polo" Helmet was introduced which whether as practical at least was far more elegant. Only offered as private purchase these were exclusive domain of the Officer Corp. The British Army officially obsoleted the Pith Helmet in 1942.
HAWKES & Co. founded in 1771 by Thomas Hawkes in Brewer Street, London, moved to 14 Piccadilly in 1794 and again to it's present location at 1 Saville Row in 1912. Today the Company is known as GIEVES & HAWKES and is still one of London's most renowned tailors.
A fine "Polo Helmet" complete with the leather chin strap, unfortunately broken at one point. The helmet comes complete with its puggaree, the cloth binding around the crown and still retains much of its white clay military finish. Inside we find an excellent large maker's stamping that reads:
The interior leather headband and red silk lining are still in fine condition.
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