An iconic US Navy Mark V diving helmet – believed to be one of the earliest helmets in existence – is going up for sale at auction on 18 July.

The helmet was discovered in a Wisconsin house in February this year – apparently it had been bought back in the 1950w as an ‘item of curiosity’.

The helmet bears the serial number #2198, which shows it is an extremely early model made in the inaugural year of the Mark V – 1916. In a US Navy manual from 1916, there is a photograph of a Mark V helmet with the serial number #2178, so this helmet is only 20 ahead.

Don Creekmore, the owner of The Nation’s Attic, which is handling the sale through its Vintage Scuba Auction, said: “This truly is a unique opportunity to own arguably the most-important US Navy diving helmet made in the 20th century.”

The helmet is a no-reserve auction, with the highest bid currently at $16,000. You can bid on the helmet at the auction site.

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