Leather Football Helmet, circa 1950s

Presented is a vintage football helmet from the 1940s. Constructed of brown hardened leather, this helmet features molded ear flaps, vented with holes. The helmet has crisscrossing dark brown leather straps along the top and is sewn with white thread in a running stitch. It is a classic example of the early football helmet designs worn before WWII. 

In the early 1900s, small soft leather skull caps appeared as optional headgear worn by few players. In the ten years between 1920 and 1930, the caps became larger, to protect more of the head, and incorporated ear flaps. The 1930s saw the introduction of hardened leather helmets and earflap holes became more standardized, so players could hear what was going on. At this time, wearing helmets in games was optional. It wasn’t until 1943 that the NFL instituted a rule requiring all players to protect their heads.

A major change in the history of football helmets came in 1939 when John T. Riddell introduced the first plastic helmet. It became immediately popular, but then production dropped off as all plastic in the US went towards the war effort. After WWII ended, plastic was once again available, and in 1949 the NFL mandated that all players wear helmets made of this more durable material. Plastic facemask bars were added in the 1950s, and by 1962 every player in the game was wearing a helmet. 


Hard leather helmet. With expected wear from past use, including dents, surface scratches and rubbing of leather. No chin strap. Stamped with model number "F188" and size "7 1/4" on the back panel. Past owner inscription in blue pen reads "Joe" twice, on inside suspension straps. 

Dimensions: 9" H x 8" W x 8" D

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