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American Football Helmet Classification Chart

Since the first head harness was introduced in 1894, sporting goods manufacturers have continuously introduced new, improved models of football head protection designed specifically for the prevalent style of play using commercially available materials and manufacturing techniques. As the game and manufacturing processes have evolved over the past 123 years, hundreds of different helmet designs have been produced.

The purpose of the American Football Helmet Classification Chart is to establish a universal classification system for the different styles offered throughout history and to provide accurate dating for the period of manufacture. The chart was created using data from hundreds of vintage athletic catalogs collected by Antique Football over a 10-year period.

Categories have been created by grouping helmet style with common distinquishing characteristics. Where possible, style names have been selected using contemporaneous manufacturer catalog descriptions. For example, the chart does not include a "dog-ear" style helmet, a term broadly used in the collecting hobby for helmets with floppy ears resembling dogs' ears. We found no examples of manufacturers using this term, and the classification of helmets based solely on the shape of the ear pads is highly problematic.

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Ear Protector

4-Strap Head Harness

Chicago Head Harness

8-Spoke Head Harness

Adjustable Ear
Head Harness

Raincap

Improved Head Harness

Pneumatic Head Harness

Flattop Head Harness

Princeton Flattop

Harvard Flattop

Beehive Flattop

Molded Crown
Head Harness

Western-Style
Head Harness

4-Strap Reinforced

Nose Protector

4-Strap

8-Strap

8-Strap Lineman

Nose Guard

8-Point Princeton Flattop

Aviator-Style

Streamline Strap

Exposed Fibre Crown Helmet

4-Strap Fibre Crown Helmet

Fibre Crown Streamline Helmet

Corrugated Fibre Crown Helmet

All-Fibre Helmet

Two-Piece Plastic Safety Helmet

One-Piece Plastic Helmet

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1894-1897

1895-1918

1901-1903

1902-1930

1907-1908

1899-1926

1899-1903

1903-1904

1904-1926

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1912-1924

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1915-1930

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1922-1926

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1900-1924

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1902-1924

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1914 - 1930

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1921 - 1925

1924 - 1945

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1924 - 1950

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6-Strap

1924 - 1950

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1924 - 1926

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1929 -1935

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1930 - 1936

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1932 - 1955

1932 - 1945

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1933 - 1950

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1938 - 1952

1938 - 1952

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1940 - 1952

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1942 - 1945

1941 - 1942

Molded Rubber Helmet

1940 - 1952

1950 -

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How to Use the Classification Chart

The American Football Helmet Classification Chart provides an illustrative tabulation of helmet styles broken into seven (7) major classifications based on crown construction:

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Click for PDF

Each major style classification has been broken into multiple minor classifications in the chart below. Detailed descriptions, catalog images, example photos, and identification diagrams are available for each style, by clicking on the example image or classification name.

Major Classification Categories

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Forehead Pad Styles

With the introduction of fibre-reinforced leather helmets in the mid-1920's, manufacturers incorporated padded forehead protectors to various helmet models. This design feature was also used in exposed fibre crown helmets. The following are examples of each forehead pad style.

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Helmet Forehead Pad Styles

Plastic/
Hydrocarbon Helmets

Minor Classification Categories