French Roold hard shell crash helmet
The Roold safety helmet, designed by the renowned manufacturer in Paris, became standard issue for French military aviators during the conflict. It represents the classic aviator's hard shell helmet of WWI. Inspiring many flying helmet designs all over the world it arguably is THE icon for the early era of aviation and the initial stages of WWI. It came in many different versions, and foreign derivatives continued to be used well beyond WWI and into the early 1930ies, especially in flying schools.
This specimen proudly wears the manufacturer's label on the shell bottom, including two medals (“LIGUE INTERNATIONALE AERIENNE”) and reading "PARIS 1911" and "ROOLD, 50 AVENUE DE LA Gde ARMÉE, PARIS”, while the brown leather sweatband is embossed “Casque Protecteur Roold, BREVETÉ S.G.D.G.” The latter is also marked with the handwritten name “Gilbert”.The "S.G.D.G." acronym stands for "Sans Garantie Du Gouvernement".
The lightweight cork shell is covered with oilcloth and painted light brown, the inside features pale gold colored lozenge-quilted satin lining while the narrow peak is lined with green satin. No means for inner shell size adjustment are present but a black elastic strap prevents the helmet from being blown off the wearer's head in case the ear flaps are not buttoned up.
The large ear flaps, made of oilcloth and lined with soft brown fabric, are also painted light brown. Buttoned up under the chin by means of two horn buttons, thus allowing for some size adjustment, they feature the classic round thick leather ear covers (or bumpers) including “D.B.F Paris” - embossed brass inserts in the form of a symbolized wheel. (see also the black French safety helmet).
Eye protection is provided by a pair of unmarked split lens goggles. Reportedly manufactured by Roold (further information provided by our website’s visitors would be welcome) this design with right-angled split lenses seemingly first appeared in France in the early 1900's and later inspired manufacturers beyond WWI for their own products, be it for aeronautical use (see British goggle designs of WWII), be it as dust protection goggles in (armed) vehicles.
The goggles are made of some kind of artificial leather with a pale green silk-like fabric lining. The rims are lined with artificial fur while four small holes should prevent the goggles from fogging up. The thin elastic strap with its simple hook/ring fixing is typical for the period.