It has been long established that there were two makers of the American pressed fiber sun helmet –Hawley Products and the International Hat Company. As we’ve previously noted, the USMC blueprints for the helmets dated back to the 1940s, however we’ve been provided with the original patents from 1935 and 1936. These were filed with the U.S. Patent Office by Jesse B. Hawley, the founder of Hawley Products and apparently the original inventor and patent holder of the Hawley sun helmet. Continue reading →
A British-made helmet used by the USMC-led Garde d’Haiti (Private Collection)
The American pressed fiber helmet was used since the 1930s and continues to see use on the shooting range in the USMC to this day. However, its exact origins have been largely forgotten. However, further study and research to the subject reveals that its origins could go back to the late 1920s when the United States was involved in protecting American interests in Haiti.
Apparently too this most American of helmet patterns could actually be based on one of the most British of patterns as well. How this helmet came to be could begin back in 1915 when the USMC began its 20 year reorganization and training of the military of Haiti. Continue reading →
Since posting last month about “The Forgotten American Experimental Helmet,” more information on this particular pattern has come to light. Apparently the helmet isn’t really so forgotten as it does appear in several reports and even some news accounts.
Even more interesting is the fact that a collector has come forward not only with some additional details but some photos of the actual helmet! Collector Marc Giles currently owns what is for now the only known surviving example of this helmet. Continue reading →
Recently a potential one-of-a-kind item surfaced on eBay. It was a “salesman sample” of the American pressed fiber helmet. What made this particular find so interesting is that it was truly a salesman’s sample in that it wasn’t full size. So why exactly was a one-quarter scale helmet created?
“Trench Art” has existed long before the horrors of the First World War, and it was commonly known as “soldier art” for centuries. Probably for as long as soldiers marched off to war they created pieces of art and personalized their equipment.
While American soldiers also came home from the “Over There” at the end of the First World War with painted steel helmets, by the Second World War the practice of decorating a helmet was frowned upon – although personalization made a comeback on the helmet covers during the Vietnam War.
One helmet pattern that has been seen to have gotten the personalized touch was of course the American pressed fiber sun helmet, as we noted in our article “The Art of the Helmet.” Now another fascinating example has come to light – and for lack of a better name it is simply “The Cat on the Hat.” Continue reading →
During the Second World War the St. Louis, Missouri-based International Hat Company, formerly the International Harvest Hat Company, produced the “pressed fiber” sun helmet for the United States Army, Marines and Navy. Tens of thousands of these were produced by International Hat Company based on the pattern developed by Hawley Products Company.
It is well-known, and widely established, that the United States Marine Corp used the International Hat pith helmet as both combat gear, as well as a standard part of the Marine Corps training uniform. In both roles the helmet had one major drawback – it didn’t provide adequate ventilation to the wearer’s head.
Part of the author’s collection of Pressed Fiber Helmets
Sadly little has been written on the American “Pressed Fiber Helmet,” which actually was in service longer than other other helmet with the American military. While we’ve previously noted that this pattern helmet was produced by two companies – Hawley Products and International Hat Company – little of its history and variations have been chronicled.
While a definitive timeline is still very much a point of conjecture and speculation, this author has attempted to create a reasonable timeline of that follows the evolution of the helmets.