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Pre-WW1 British Headgear for Sale -
British, Helmets & Headgear, Pre-WW1

Pre-WW1 British Headgear for Sale

Pre-WW1 was a great time of military manufacture of high-end items. It was before the days of mass production and world wars, which meant that specialist stores could take their time and manufacture stunning helmets and headgear.

British headgear in particular was truly special during this time. Of course this was only for the higher ranks; you wouldn’t find a lowly soldier at Rorke’s Drift wearing a plumed helmet! Consequently, the higher the rank, the better the helmet.

Nowadays, these items command very high prices from collectors and dealers as their rarity speaks for itself. It’s not something you will find at a local flea market too often, so below we will explore some of the pre-WW1 British headgear for sale across our partnered sites this week.

17th Lancers English Officers Lance Cap


17th Lancers British Officers Lance Cap with full length white swan feather plume
17th Lancers British Officers Lance Cap with full length white swan feather plume


Here is 1902 to 1910-era English officers lance cap from the 17th Lancers in stunning condition. There is light crazing to the skin on the body, but no damage on the skull. Only the edges of the top white mortarboard have some slight age staining but there is no moth damage. 

The gilt lacing on the helmet is bright and good, and it has the correct, heavy intertwined bullion ‘GR’ pompom. This stunning helmet features a full-length officer’s white swan feather plume, complete with the correct officer’s plume holder.

17th Lancers British Officers Lance Cap Badge Close-up
The craftsmanship on this helmet is exquisite.
17th Lancers helmet top close-up
Gilt lion’s head chin chain mounts
Close-up of 17th Lancers Cap Badge
Close-up of the famous badge with battle honours for Balaclava


The lion’s head chin chain retains are nicely tilted, and this is matched on the gilt velvet backed chin chain. The front plate is double constructed and has the battle honours of the 17th Lancers, which ranged from the Crimea through Central India, all the way to South Africa in 1900 to 1902. This helmet includes the famous battle honour for Balaclava, where the 17th Lancers charged.

The helmet interior is complete and has a Morocco sweatband of grained leather, which has some light usage wear. It has its crimson inner band with the slight remains of a gold block manufacturer’s name visible on the upper inner crown.

Lance cap interior
Lance cap interior

Available from Regimentals £5,250.00.

Regimentals Militaria

Post-1902 / WW1-Era British Grenadier Guards, Guardsman’s Bearskin

Grenadier Guards regimental brass badge and a white feather plume, liner & chin strap.
Grenadier guard’s regimental brass badge and a white feather plume, liner & chin strap.

As one of the five Foot Guards Regiment in the British Army Household Division, this regiment has a lineage dating back to 1656. It took part in the Seven Years’ War as well as the Napoleonic Wars.

It was given the prestigious grenadier title by Royal Proclamation because in WW1 the regiment served with distinction during the battles on the Western Front.

Grenadier Guards regimental brass badge and a white feather plume, liner & chin strap.
This is a brilliant example


This grenadier guardsman’s bearskin is in almost mint condition. It has a deep full-bodied black fur exterior, which is in very clean condition. The bearskin has a white feather removable plume and a brass King’s Crown grenadier guard’s ‘ignited grenade’ badge. The wicker basket frame of the bearskin supports the exterior fur, as well as a black sweatband, liner and leather-mounted brass link chin chain is graduated in size. It is approximately a UK size 6 1/2.

Available from JC Militaria priced at £745.00.

Royal Dockyard Battalion 1847 Shako

Pre-WW1 British Headgear Royal Dockyard Battalion 1847 Shako
A great example of the 1847 shako


A Royal Commission was put in place in 1847 in order to protect the Royal Dockyards. Each superintendent formed a volunteer force from their adult employees. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 55 was eligible to join this unit.

The commission recommended to the Crown that they would need a minimum of £10 million to defend all the country’s naval facilities and arsenals from a potential attack. The Royal Dockyard Battalions grew until they consisted of approximately 10,000 officers and men. However, they did not last long and were subsequently disbanded in 1857.

Royal Dockyard Battalion 1847 Shako back view
The shakos were not in use for long, as the units were soon disbanded.
1847 Royal Dockyards Battalion Shako interior
Shako interior showing the leather liner band

This Shako has a large oval front plate featuring an anchor in the centre, which is surrounded by acorns and a Victorian crown to the top. The shako’s body is made of black felt with sunk top front and rear peaks. It has two holed air vents, a band around the base and chin strap; all in patent leather. The sweat band is complete with white and red ball tuft.

Available from MDL Historic Military Antiques £2,850.00.

Michael D. Long Antique Arms and Militaria - Militaria Today

Victorian British Army 16th The Queen’s Lancers – Officer’s Lance Cap

Victorian British Army 16th The Queen's Lancers Officer’s Lance Cap
A very nice example of an officer’s cap

This lovely-condition Victorian 16th Lancers Officer’s cap or shapka has gilt fittings with a silvered Victorian Crowned front plate. It has battle honours with a bullion rosette and a black horse hair plume.

Formed in 1759, the regiment eventually amalgamated with the 5th Royal Irish Lancers in 1922 to create the 16th/5th Lancers.

16 Lancers cap badge close-up
The detail on the cap badge shows expert craftsmanship.


The regiment was located in Ireland (1802 & 1805) and then during the Napoleonic Wars it was ordered to the Iberian Peninsula. It charged during the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and it was the only British Cavalry Regiment that served continually throughout the Peninsular War.

The skull and peak are made of black patent leather and a waist of gold lace and a red. The rear has a gilt metal ring & hook with a 4-leaf mount. The front peak is adorned with gold purl.

Pre-WW1 British Headgear Collection of photos of 16th lancers cap
The website has some lovely detailed photographs of this item.

The cloth top and sides are covered in black cloth with the regimental facing colour. There is a bullion cord across the top of the cap and down each of the four angles, as well as a stylised monogram-rosette and a lion’s head bossed with a velvet-backed chain.

The craftsmanship of this item is truly exquisite, and the quality is outstanding. A Victorian gilt and silvered Victorian Crown badge adorns it, and there is a royal arms and battle honours above a 16th Lancers banner. There are no visible markings to display the size of the cap but it is approximately a UK size 7 ½.

Available from JC Militaria £2,850.00.

11th Foot Regiment Bell Top Shako

Pre-WW1 British Headgear 11th Foot - Bell Top Shako front view
11th Foot – Bell Top Shako front view

Our next item is an officer’s bell top shako from the 11th Foot Regiment, which was also known as the Devonshire Regiment. This regiment gained notoriety after the Battle of Salamanca, when the nickname ‘the Bloody Eleventh’ caught on.

An extremely rare item, this bell top shako was worn by officers as standard from 1829 to 1844. It has a crown circumference of 10½ inches and the helmet is constructed of pressed felt with a leather peak and crown. The peak is slightly loose as the stitching that holds the peak to the main body has partly rotted.

Pre-WW1 British Headgear Side view of 11th Regiment shako
Side view


Chinstrap mount of 11th Regiment shako close-up
Chinstrap mount

There are pressed felt sides and leather V sections on both sides with the correct lion over crown side bosses. It has chin scales in flat disc form and the green wool pompom sits within its correct cradle.

It has an impressive 11th Foot officer’s shako plate which includes the battle honours for the Peninsular Wars of Toulouse, Orthes, Peninsular, Neve and Nivelle.

Internal view of 11th Foot Regiment shako
Internal view of the shako

The original multi-stitched inner liner has worked loose from the helmet at some point and during a previous restoration some glue has affixed the liner to the helmet’s main body. It appears that some restoration has been undertaken on the crown area, but there is no evidence of any holes or damage that may have been repaired.

The front plate sits within the original holes, indicating that the plate has likely never left this helmet. There are slight stains in parts to the beaver skin which covers the exterior, and the chin scales are strong, good and firm; as is the leather backing.

Close-up of 11th Foot Regiment cap badge
Close-up of the badge.

Available from Regimentals £3,850.00.

Regimentals Militaria

Officer’s 1834 Pattern Helmet – Inniskilling Dragoons

Pre-WW1 British Headgear Officer’s 1834 Pattern Helmet Inniskilling Dragoons side view
Helmet left side view

Next one on our list is a striking Inniskilling Dragoons 1834 Officer’s Pattern Helmet, which is a gilt copper helmet with moulded tall crest and oak branches. This helmet’s ornate design would have definitely made sure that the wearer stood out and commanded respect.

Officer’s 1834 Pattern Helmet - Inniskilling Dragoons rear
The detailed rear decoration


Pre-WW1 British Headgear Officer’s 1834 Pattern Helmet - Inniskilling Dragoons front
Inniskilling Dragoons Helmet front


Inniskilling Dragoons Helmet close-up of the decorative leaves
Close up of the side decorative leaves

The leaping lion terminal sides with scroll floral panels exude strength and elegance. The front plate, which consists of the Royal arms with regimental battle honours for Peninsula and Waterloo, sits above a beaded band which is embossed with the words ‘Inniskilling Dragoons’.

Pre-WW1 British Headgear Inniskilling Dragoons Helmet right side
Helmet right side
Pre-WW1 British Headgear Inniskilling Dragoons Helmet interior
Helmet interior

The oak leaf embossed gilt brass chin scales are leather backed and there are rosettes in the form of blossom. The front peak is lined in green leather and the rear is brown. An aged repair sits behind the badge on the helmet’s body. On the skull there are a few contact marks.

Available from MDL Historic Military Antiques £3,750.00.

Michael D. Long Antique Arms and Militaria - Militaria Today

Bedfordshire Imperial Yeomanry Officer’s Lance Cap

Pre-WW1 British Headgear Bedfordshire Imperial Yeomanry Officer's Lance Cap close up
Bedfordshire Imperial Yeomanry Officer’s Lance Cap

Our following item is quite a rare find. This officer’s lance cap from the 1900s belonged to an officer of the British Army Bedfordshire Yeomanry Regiment. The regiment served intermittently between 1797 and 1827, before eventually being reformed in 1901 for service during the Second Boer War. 

Pre-WW1 British Headgear Bedfordshire Imperial Yeomanry Officer's Lance Cap right front side
Right front side
Bedforshire Imperial Yeomanry Lance Cap Pre-WW1 British Headgear
Bedforshire Imperial Yeomanry Lance Cap


This example of the lance cap has a gilt and silver officers’ helmet plate, an excellent-condition leather shell, gilt officer’s back hooks along with lion head side bosses, a link chin chain and a gilt mount for the impressive black feather plume.

The leather and silk lining has the markings ‘Carter & Co.’ inside the crown, indicating the maker.
This is a rare and seldom-found example of a British lance cap in excellent condition.

Bedforshire Imperial Yeomanry Lance Cap liner Pre-WW1 British Headgear
Lance cap liner

Available from Military Antiques £4,900.00.

Have you seen this article? Battlefield Relics

Do you have items to sell? Dealer or collector; it’s completely free

We love to show items for sale from all around the world, so grab the chance to put your item in front of thousands of potential buyers worldwide.

For dealers with your own website: it couldn’t be easier, so get in touch via info@militariatoday.com to express interest, and we will select items from your website to include in our daily posts, and advertise them for free! No work on your part required at all. If you have a social media and/or eBay account, feel free to include these in your e-mail as well. We will tag your social media account whenever your item is included in one of our posts so you can gain even more exposure. Click here to see the list of our current partner sites.

Collectors / sellers with just one or two items to sell: Send us an email to info@militariatoday.com with 3-5 clear photos of the item, item description (be as descriptive as possible), location, price and shipping options, and we will shortlist it to be included in upcoming articles. Again, totally free! 

Subject to approval, your item will be seen by tens of thousands of people per week.

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