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British Hypo Helmet

Article about: Hello friends, This is my first post here, so have mercy if I get something wrong. To cut to the chase though, I am a gas mask collector of some repute and I was traded a British Hypo Helmet

  1. #1

    Default British Hypo Helmet

    Hello friends,

    This is my first post here, so have mercy if I get something wrong. To cut to the chase though, I am a gas mask collector of some repute and I was traded a British Hypo Helmet by another collector. It was recommended to me that I come here to ask it's legitimacy. It's not that I don't trust the guy that gave it to me, it's simply my experience with WW1 fabrics is slim to none and I've heard tales of reproductions being passed off as the real thing. Thus, I appear before you.

    I tried to get the stitching and material to show fairly well, I had to resize the images to upload them so I don't know how well that worked. I'll get more photos if anyone asks. Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2


    You need to talk to Joe Sweeny, PM me and I'll get you his e-mail. your hood stands a chance on first blush, but it is in remarkable condition. sniffing, feeling etc make a big difference when sorting these things out.

  3. #3


    Hi Moulage
    If you feel it possible without causing damage, turn the helmet inside out and photograph the inside of the window so we can see how it is constructed.

  4. #4


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here it is. It might be hard to see, but there are 4 strips of "tape", overlapping on the corners, with 3 lines of stitching around the lens.

    I've talked to Joe as mentioned, and he seemed to not notice anything strange until he saw the inside too. He wouldn't say for sure, but he was definitely suspicious after seeing it, stating that it was usually one solid piece of tape, and never with three lines of stitching. Some other collectors I have spoken to report high variability in manufacturing techniques, so while I'm not going to pretend I know better, I feel it is a legitimate mask, given that the backing was the only issue Joe appeared to have with it.

  5. #5


    I know that this is a little bit of an old thread, but this hood is now in my hands and I'd like to close the discussion and give a final answer on its authenticity.

    Unfortunately, those who suspected it was a fake were correct. It's merely a modern replica (a fairly good one at that) which has been artificially aged. It wasn't the construction of the hood itself, which does have a few incorrect, or inconsistencies when compared to legitimate examples that gave it away, but the actual artificial aging itself. Whoever decided to age this piece used probably a heat gun to create a series of burn marks in random places on the hood, and to melt/distort the eyepiece. This is what initially caught my attention. Why would it be burnt in such a way in the first place? It doesn't make much sense to me. I suspect it was an attempt to create what from a distance looked like age associated dirty marks. The fact it was aged by burning also gave away the fact that the fabric itself is synthetic, small hard plastic like beads have formed in several areas on the hood as shown in one of the photos below, this doesn't occur with natural fabrics which were used in the construction of original hoods. The actual eyepiece itself is of the wrong construction, originals feature a mica eyepiece which today are more often than not cracked in multiple places in quite a unique and recognisable pattern. What is shown here is more similar to when you put a plastic bottle on a fire, again giving away the use of modern materials in its construction. The final nail in the coffin is the lack of a chemical presence on the hood, it should have signs of the hypo solution (sodium thiosulfate), which it doesn't. It was tested properly by a friend of mine, in a lab. I'm not too sure of how he done so, but I think he attempted to illuminate the possible sodium thiosulfate it using another chemical, or tried to get a chemical reaction of some sort to occur. Neither of which were successful. So there you have it guys.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The hood, as worn

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    Close up of the burn marks at the base of the hood, showing the small hardened plastic like balls

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    One of several burn marks on the hood itself

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    The eyepiece

    Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about this is that Eli (Moulage) traded a number of fairly valuable items for this piece, believing it to be legitimate. When he had suspicions about it, the other party refused to have anything else to do with it and didn't offer any sort of refund at all. To try and cut his losses a little bit, Eli listed this hood on ebay with a description which honestly described the fact that people had doubts about it, and that its legitimacy was at the buyers discretion. I put a bid in for it which was in the ballpark of what you would pay for a decent replica and ended up winning the auction, and the subsequent evaluation on the masks legitimacy. For now it will fill the space in my collection until I can get my hands on a real example.



  6. #6


    Sadly, there are plenty of unscrupulous people out there who wouldn't think twice about ripping off the unwary. I dare say the original seller knew only too well that it was a reproduction. Your friend Eli did the honourable thing with his description on eBay, and he is to be commended for that.
    Books published to date... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack - Andersonstown'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  7. #7


    It's a rather sad reality of the hobby that we have chosen, you really can't be too careful. I am pretty dead certain the original owner of it knew exactly what it was, I actually contacted him myself prior to bidding on it for his input and he said that he "never liked it" and that I should avoid it. I think that says it all really.

    At least this example has been condemned to the fake pile and won't continue to be circulated. If it is to ever leave my collection I think I'll stick a great big "REPRODUCTION" stamp inside it or something.

    I don't want to start naming and shaming, but people need to be extremely wary of and cautious around a certain Spanish sculptor who has amassed what is, or previously was one of the largest gas mask collections in Europe.



  8. #8


    On another related note, for those of you who have not already heard, Joe Sweeney passed away last year.

  9. #9


    Joe was one of the best and is greatly missed.

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