An Early Victorian Life Guards 1842 Pattern Officer’s Full Dress Helmet, 1860
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Height: 42cm (16.5in)
German silver skull applied with a rococo escutcheon helmet plate containing an eight pointed hobnail cut star voided at the centre to contain a blue enamelled plate to represent the Garter with the motto ‘HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE’ overlaid in gilt metal, and encircling the cross of St George in red enamel set against a silvered ground, the whole surmounted by the Queen Victoria Crown and flanked by a wreath of laurel and oak leaves, all in gilt. The fore and aft peaks riveted to the skull, decorated with large gilt acanthus sprays and edged with brass bindings, the fore joint being concealed under the helmet plate and the rear under a gilt oak leaf band to match that concealing the rear seam of the skull. The gilt laurel leaf plume holder rising from a foliate decorated mount and containing the ‘shaving brush’ from which hangs the regimentally specific 18-inch long white horse hair plume, the whole in place by a gilt metal plume rosette. Complete with gilt ear rosettes, and brass chinchain. The interior with original maroon velvet headband and liner, the peaks lined with green skiver leather.
The 1842 Pattern helmet, aka ‘the Albert Pattern’, is credited to Prince Albert who floated the idea of introducing a German style helmet for the Household Cavalry. It was first officially described for the Life Guards in Dress Regulations of 1846 as ‘of German silver, plume of white horse hair’. Dress Regulations of 1857 added only a little further detail - ‘German silver mounted with gilt ornaments, and silver Garter star in front’. In 1856 it is said that the peak was shortened at the wish of Queen Victoria so she might more easily recognise the Officers of her Escort. The most distinguished officer to don the 1842 Pattern is said to be the one-legged Field Marshal Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey whose portrait in full dress uniform and holding his 1842 Pattern helmet hangs in the Officers Mess, Combermere Barracks, Windsor. In 1871 the 1842 Pattern was replaced by the less ornate pattern worn today.