AntiqueFootball Helmet Grading Protocol Exterior Condition Evaluation Criteria

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The AntiqueFootball Grading Protocol considers 3 major criteria when evaluating the exterior condition of a vintage football helmet, wear, desiccation, and discoloration. The following is a description of each of these criteria and the condition issues studied to arrive at an exterior condition score.

Desiccation

Leather "tanning" is a process whereby chemical substances are introduced into and between the fibers of the skin to preserve flexibility and resist decomposition. Over time, however, these substances lose their efficacy and the leather begins to dehydrate and decay through a process called "desiccation." Desiccation is defined as the process by which a material dries out and its moisture is removed. There are three distinct phases of leather desiccation, embrittlement, crazing/cracking, and spalling/flaking.

Phase I - Embrittlement

Embrittlement is the gradual stiffening and loss of malleability in leather and fabrics. Evaluating the degree of helmet embrittlement requires extensive experience inspecting vintage leather goods in different stages of dryness. A familiarity with the characteristics of different leathers and helmets in new, old stock (NOS) condition is critical in assessing embrittlement deductions. Through the loss of moisture, embrittled leathers shrink, often leading to local deformations as parts of the helmet contract differentially. Depending on the tanning process, some leathers will continue to stiffen until they become rigid. Others will remain somewhat flexible overall but exhibit localized cracking and crazing as the leather shrinks.

Phase III - Flaking/Spalling

The final phase of leather desiccation is the physical separation of the animal skin layers, called flaking or spalling. In this phase, the outer layer of the skin become dislodged from the leather, exposing inner layers of the leather.

Phase II - Cracking/Crazing

As a leather skin continues to desiccate the surface layers will begin to crack and craze. The initial stages of cracking resemble dry human skin. Subsequent phases result in larger cracks and eventually separation of the leather along crack lines.

Other Desiccation Conditions

Other desiccation conditions for which deductions are assessed include:

Wear

"Wear" refers to any mechanical damage to a helmet caused during its use or storage, including scuffs, tears, missing components, and insect or rodent damage.

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Surface abrasions

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Wear Score Deductions

The table below identifies the deductions given for varying degrees of wear on each helmet surface.

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