88th Connaught Rangers Officer’s bell top shako
An 88th or Connaught Rangers Officer’s Bell Top shako worn between 1829 and 1840 comprising a beaver felt shako body which still retains some of its original beaver skin fur knap. The shako stands approximately 7 inches tall at the sides and on each side has V shape leather straps which are designed to provide support to the shako body and assist in retaining the distinctive bell shaped appearance. The dished leather sunken crown is approximately eleven inches in diameter and the front peak is approximately two and a half inches wide at the center and projects slightly outwards.
The shako retains original plain gilt chin scales which are backed onto leather and lined with rich black silk velvet but are probably not original to this shako. The chin scales are attached via a circular gilt ear boss with a crown and lion device and were replaced by a Horse Guards Circular dated 22nd February 1839 which abolished the gilt chin scales in favor of a patent leather chin strap as part of the universal economy measures being introduced at the time. The patent leather chinstrap being subsequently found to be unfit for service and replaced by a gilt chin chain by order of a Horse Guards circular dated 26th August 1841.
The universal fire gilt helmet plate comprises a twelve pointed rayed silver star with battle honors in each of the rays and a large Georgian crown. In the center of the star is a wreath of shamrock below which sits a Sphinx with Egyptian writing below on a tablet. In the center of the star is the harp of Erin and the Arabic numerals for 88.
The interior retains its original leather sweat band and crimson silk liner although the leather sweat band is now torn in four or five places and is in extremely fragile condition. There is no evidence of any other helmet plate having been fitted to the shako during the course of its life. The shako is in excellent condition for its age with no splits or damage to the exterior.The shako is completed with a replacement white feather plume and gilt plume holder.
A unique opportunity to acquire a very rare if not unique bell top shako to a premier Peninsula War regiment.