c.1935 Goldsmith No. HN9 Fibre-Reinforced Nose Guard Helmet
Our February 2017 Artifact of the Month is a circa 1935 Goldsmith HN9, fibre-reinforced nose guard helmet sold in the Mears February 2017 auction for $2,789. The helmet is the 25th "executioner" helmet, and the only Goldsmith HN9 model in our executioner helmet database.
P. Goldsmith & Sons sold their version of the fibre-reinforced nose guard helmet, the HN9, in the mid-1930's. The HN9 was built around Goldsmith's eight-strap fibre-reinforced helmet design and added an integral, multi-layer nose guard which consisted of a sole leather outer, "spring steel" reinforcement, foam rubber padding, and a sheepskin inner. The helmet body was fibre-reinforced molded leather, with unique, padded, arched eyebrow pads that add to the helmet's alien-esque appearance. On the interior of the HN9, Goldsmith utilized an 8-point suspension harness to keep the head from contacting the fibre crown. The HN9 was discontinued in the later 1930's as rubber covered steel facemasks became the face protection of choice for football players.
Molded Leather Nose Protector Head Harness vs. Fibre-Reinforced Nose Guard Helmet
Our Football Helmet Classification Chart categories vintage football helmets into major and minor style classifications. Helmet styles have been broken into seven major classifications based on the design of and materials used to form the crown. As a result, helmets commonly referred to as "executioner helmets" have been divided into two distinct styles, the molded leather nose protector head harness and the fibre-reinforced nose guard helmet.
Molded Leather Nose Protector Head Harness
Fibre-Reinforced Nose Guard Helmet
The molded leather nose protector helmet is the first generation "executioner" helmet. Introduced by Goldsmith in 1921, the No. 64 was a western-style molded leather helmet with a molded, sole-leather nose piece. Similar to other early 1920's helmets, the nose protector utilized strap leather for its crown, which was padded with white sanitary felt. The sole leather nose piece could also be purchased separately and laced to a standard head harness, allowing trainers to add nose protection to injured player's standard equipment. The nose protector head harness was phased out by the mid-1920's, as fibre-reinforcement of helmets became standard.
Fibre-reinforced fibre leather football helmets were first introduced in the mid-1930's as a means to add rigidity and additional skull fracture protection to leather helmets. Fibre-reinforced nose guard helmets appeared in the mid to late 1930's, as manufacturers incorporated integral leather nose guards to this new style helmet. Fibre-reinforced nose guard helmets are differentiated from the earlier molded leather nose protector head harnesses by the presence of a leather covered fibre crown shell and the molded shape of the helmet body. Rather than employing sole leather in the nose piece, manufacturers opted for fibre or steel reinforced strap leather.