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the pith helmet

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Published on 11/20/2000

Len and Cindy ask:
Where can I purchase a genuine British pith helmet the type worn by the Brits in India? Cheers

I thought that this one was going to be easy, but it turns out that there aren't that many people selling genuine British pith helmets, online at least. The best resources I've found for specialty items like this are online auction sites, where the old adage "one man's crap is another man's treasure" really comes to light. The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of people in the world, and most of them have a lot of extra baggage in their life. And I'm not even talking about the emotional baggage that we all inevitably carry around. No, I mean the stuff that you cart from house to house, apartment to apartment and so on, convinced that some day you'll "need it."

Eventually, we all realize that we're never going to "need" any of it, and at that point, it either gets tossed into the nearest dumpster or it gets put up at a tag sale. Now the best example of this that I've found is the Antiques Roadshow. This is a wonderful program on PBS where people cart out the stuff that they've been carting around their entire lives to a convention center or high school auditorium in hopes to get their crap on tv. It's actually like listening to people call up Dr. Laura on the radio. The people carting their antiques in are mostly setting themselves up for major embarrassment. For the most part, the junk that they've been carting around forever is actual junk, and the appraisals generally go something like this: "Well, this piece, that you say your great-grandfather brought over on the Mayflower is actually a cheap imitation. It looks like your dad's been lying to you about the origins of this piece for your entire life. By the way, you're adopted."

For people who don't get on the Antiques Roadshow, there is Ebay. Ebay is where millions of people go to get other people to tell them how much their crap is actually worth. Of course in the process they get to sell off their belongings, but it's essentially a place for self-affirmation. After all, if someone else will buy your Cervantes action figure, then you weren't such a ninny for buying it in the first place.

But I digress. A quick search for "British pith helmet" returned four matches (as of this writing), including this one. While you might not find exactly what you're looking for, it's certainly an appropriate jumping off point. Not only that, but Ebay provides you with the sellers' contact information, so you can feel free to email them directly to see if they know of any other pith helmet resources, or if they, perchance, have any more stashed away in the basement.

Of course the first step in any good search online would be the Internet search engine. My favorite is Google for its speed and relative lack of visual crap. Plus, they have really fun graphics on their front page for holidays, including Japan's children's holiday for 7, 5 and 3 year-olds. Now that's class. Again, a search for "British pith helmet" will lead you on your way.

If none of these solutions are to your liking, I can only suggest you enroll in her Majesty's armed forces. They'll have the inside scoop.

We are slow in surrendering our imperialist prejudices! If you want to find a British pith helmet for sale online, tell the search engines that you want an Indian pith helmet. Better results!
Posted by William Brazill on 08-09-2001 13:40

The answer where to buy a authentic pith helmet. Go to www.lockhatters.co.uk ....
These are the best of the best as far as a hatter may go. Royalty shops there, the movie industry shops there, adventurers and wanna bees, gentlemen and ladies and the others wanting to be gentlemen and ladies. Now keep in mind a real pith helment is not cheap unless you want one of those styrofoam postmen pith helments. Good luck!
Posted by STEPHEN on 10-12-2001 12:26

In Miami, Florida there is a huge area on the ocean with double-deck of shops.(I believe the HMS Bounty is there as a tourist attraction. There is a store in that complex that had a large selection of both Frank Buck and Bengal Lancer real pith helmets for about $65.00. The Miami Chambe of Commerce might give you some idea of exactly what this complex is.
Posted by Chuck Dreyfuss on 06-07-2002 13:51

Look at the "Pith Helmets" page of http://villagehatshop.com. Indian, UK, French pith helmets, etc.
Posted by fred on 06-20-2002 12:09

Try CSP.com for a pith helmet at a reasonable price.
Posted by Michelle Bryant on 07-15-2002 23:17

Correction in the last email address. For a descent pith helmet reasonably priced the email website is cspoutdoors.com
Posted by Michelle Bryant on 07-15-2002 23:18

About the best priced pith helmets around at the moment are from http://www.sas-kiwi.com/retail.html
- white or khaki repro brit helmets for around USD $30.
Posted by Digger on 08-06-2002 04:31

Posted by Eric on 02-07-2003 19:31


I read your article. We sell pith helmets made the tradtional way - we have two styles - African Safari - like Dr Livingston wore on his adventures in Africa and the India style which is more like the style the British wore in India.

They are made out of cork, have leather adjustable head bands and come in 2 colors - light and dark khaki. They both sell for $60.

Our web site is www.africantradingco.com
Posted by Simon Gers on 03-28-2003 13:46

Check out the best authentic African Safari Pith Helmets on the web, at www.tagsafari.com. We make the authentic pith helmets from the original designs that were worn by the colonial rulers of Southern Africa.Made with genuine cork pith, and covered in 100% cotton twill, these are the coolest looking pith helmets around.Tag is proud to bring these to you, shipped from Houston Texas. Order online at www.tagsafari.com
Posted by Jin on 05-04-2003 17:52

Very interested in comments, but I am surprised at some 'rubbish' that some people believe to be a 'pith' helmet. There seems to be a great variation of styles. I am interested in Pith Helmets worn by british and colonial troops - WWII mainly in north africa. There seems to be two styles, one is the Wolseley style, the other I don't know. There seems to be a scarcity of originals and I have been informed by a person from a military museum that the Pith Helmet was hated by the troops for a number of reasons and when troopships werein sight of UK on their way home the troops threw the helmets overboard. It was evidently not unusual to see hundreds of these pith helmets floating on the tide.
Posted by Peter Balloch on 12-22-2003 02:14

how about the helmets letter carriers
wear ; more resistant to moisture i would think .... or check :
Posted by duggy dugg on 05-29-2004 17:58

I have a british pith helmet with the date stamped inside June 24, 1944 from the International Hat Co.
Posted by Kat Foster on 06-29-2004 13:57

Posted by englandzlad on 08-24-2004 13:10

I read with interest the comments re the search for a pith or British foreign service helmet. I too have been looking for the said item with no luck !! I can advise however, that Compton Webb in the UK, manufacture British Police helmets and still make cork ones for the City of London Police (coxcombe) which are still worn today. In addition they also make headgear for the British army, and I know they supply the blue spiked helmet for parade purposes. Other than asking this company to make you a one off order, I agree there appear to be no genuine British foreign service helmets readily at hand. (I too have turned my nose up at the nasty ones listed by overseas companies). Chin Chin !!!
Posted by Geordie on 09-08-2004 14:12

'lawranceordnance@bigpond.com' sell excellent military military pith helmets.
Posted by Luca M. venturi on 10-28-2004 05:51

Hi, please i want to know the actuality direction the G. A. marcineck pith helmets, help me.


Posted by Rodolfo Morales on 06-06-2005 16:12

Even though it's a bit late - I am selling a genuine British Pith Helmet worn by a member of the Royal Sussex, on eBay. My seller name is Saxyssis.

Posted by Linda on 06-08-2005 15:57

I have a genuine British Army Pith Helmet in excellent condition, circa 1880. It's for sale to the first person that has 350.00
It's like its hardly ever been worn.
Posted by Pete McClelland on 03-21-2006 11:01

Englands finest hatmakers are undoubtedly James Lock & Co. In St.James Street, London.They have over the years provided hats for Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill,Oscar Wilde, Frank Sinatra , Anthony Eden, Peter O` Toole etc etc.Lock & Co. produce a superior quality British `Colonial style` Pith helmet in khaki colour for 165.I am a hat connoiseur myself and i can sincerely guarantee you there is none better...
Posted by john on 03-27-2006 16:12

I'm looking to buy 2 genuine British foreign service pith helmets. One dating to the Zulu War, and one dating to the boer War. I have resently researched my families military history and discovered that two of my ancestral grandfathers were Victorian British soldiers. One served with the 24th of Foot during the Zulu War and the other (being the firsts grandfathers son) served with the South Wales Borderers during the Boer War. Hence my desire to get hold of an example of a pith helmet worn in both wars.
If you have one of these piths for sale please contact me on : slater2@worldonline.co.za
Posted by lavagna on 04-18-2006 10:44

I wrote you a rather lengthy letter on pith helmets, and when I hit the "send" button, I was informed the email address that is given on your web page IS NOT a valid email address. So what IS your proper address, please? I really don't want to spend another 30+ minutes writing another letter only to find that another address is _void_. Thanks, Jim Skladany.
Posted by Jim Skladany on 10-08-2006 01:58

Pith helmets are still made to this day one at a time by hand in North Vietnam. This is where the Pith Tree grows. Cork is not Pith. please visit http://www.nogetraco-usa.com or see nogetraco_worldwide on e-bay. You only want the real thing, here it is
Posted by nogetraco on 10-09-2006 20:04

I collect Victorian militaria. period pith helmets are one of my favourite items, but hard to find a genuine period one outside specialist auctions. I have owned several - I still have two. Many of the classic zulu/boer war examples on ebay that are not repros are actually later (post 1903) bandsmens types. A genuine Victorian example would cost you between 200/$400 and 1000/$2000 depending on condition and provenance, often more from a dealer. The Wolseley pattern, worn from 1897 to WWII and later is reasonably easy to find however, and should never cost you more than 100/$200, usually less unless it's an interesting regimental pattern or provenanced to an interesting individual.
Posted by Jonathan on 11-01-2006 12:05

A place that seems to have a decent Wolseley Pattern that seems to be spot on try http://lawranceordnance.com/
Posted by John on 04-08-2007 23:16

Have you ever seen the REAL PITH (of a tree growing in North Vietnam) for making a PITH HELMET? Do you know the major production processes of making a pith helmet? The answers can be found at www.linkorient.com. Diverse styles of pith helmets made by LINKORIENT are also presented on the website.

Posted by Linkorient on 05-08-2007 23:41

Want exclusive patriotic British Tshirts? Visit 'British Colonial Outfitters' at- http://www.spreadshirt.net/shop.php?sid=264840
You wont be disapointed ! Chin Chin.

Posted by British Colonial Outfitters on 07-12-2007 22:02

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