A Staffordshire Yeomanry Officer’s Tarleton Helmet circa 1810
A very rare and possibly unique example of a Staffordshire Yeomanry officer’s Tarleton helmet circa 1810.
The jacked leather skull is correctly made in two pieces and joined along the ridge line running front to back by heavy duty cotton or hessian thread. The front leather peak is bound with a silver plated metal edging and retains the wonderful shaped peak normally associated with Tarleton helmets. On either side of the bearskin crest, at the join where the peak meets the skull, are two separate silver plated regimental naming labels displaying Staffordshire and Yeomanry.
This example has the addition of a rear leather neck guard that was introduced on to the Tarleton helmets around 1800 and which served to provide these helmets with more stability when worn given that most Tarleton’s did not have chin scales. In my opinion the introduction of these neck guards not only provided a practical solution to a top heavy helmet by following the natural contours of the human skull but also created a more aesthetically pleasing appearance to the helmet. There is evidence that this neck guard had some form of leather edged or velvet binding as stitching holes are evident at regular intervals.
A strip of green velvet material sits around the bottom of the skull partially held in place with three rows of silver chains ala Tarleton style. No evidence exists that any regimental device was ever attached to the side of the skull, however this would seem improbable given that a silver plated strap is attached to either side. I’m curious as to what the purpose of these straps would have been other than presumably some form of strengthening device.
The Tarleton has a very good replacement bearskin crest and an original Georgian feather plume on either horn or whalebone that sits in a predefined position on the left hand side of the helmet. Rather annoyingly it would seem that whoever attached the replacement bearskin crest elected to make new holes in the skull as opposed to using the existing holes. I have shown an image of the interior for your consideration.
Sadly Tarleton helmets have been faked extensively over the years and my advice has always been to approach all with caution. There are normally obvious indicators that allow collectors to single out the good from the bad but I have seen a number of fake Tarleton’s listed for sale on Ebay over the years. Extreme care should be taken with any line regiment of light dragoons as only one or two examples are known to exist which are all housed in regimental museum collections and as such unlikely to appear commercially for sale.
Obvious indicators are the quality of regimental labels and more importantly the existence of the diamond shape cross hatching that would have originally been hand chased onto the label strap after the regimental name had been chased. Under magnification it is clear to see that these skills no longer exist and therefore fake Tarleton’s have stippled or blank backgrounds versus precise geometric diamond cross hatching on original pieces.
Having spent many hours inspecting this Tarleton I am confident that it is indeed original, other than for the addition of replacement bearskin crest. I am prepared to offer a 100% money back guarantee on this helmet should an accredited expert subsequently determine this helmet to be a fake.