Original U.S. Spanish-American War Era M1881 White Infantry Spiked Helmet with Excelsior Brigade Plate

Item Description

Original Item: One Only. Much like our European cousins in the 1880s, the U.S. Army started to adopted spiked pith helmets, sometimes in white, with all brass mounts and occasionally plumes. These saw active service in the Spanish American War of 1898 especially in the tropical climate in Cuba. While often called "Pith Helmets", the U.S. variety was usually made of cork or other materials.

This helmet is in white, and is the standard spiked infantry helmet, possibly for an officer. It has chin strap hook buttons on the sides, with the correct "crossed rifles" insignia for infantry. There are also chin strap hooks on the interior, under the liner, which is partly detached from the helmet. It was originally attached by thick string loop stitches through the shell, which went through cork spacers. More than half of these are missing now, most likely having rotted out due to age. Also the green lining is missing under the rear visor. There is a visible PHILADELPHIA ink stamp on the underside of the sweatband, so it was processed through the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot.

The front of the helmet has a large EXCELSIOR Brigade helmet plate, with the number 1 on the shield. As best we can tell, this was a military unit in the Civil War Union Army raised in New York State and the surrounding areas. This may have been a helmet used by former members of the group.

Definitely some interesting research potential!

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