Very Rare Circa 1896 American Vajen-bader "patent Smoke Protector” Air Tank For Sale
Very Rare Circa 1896 American Vajen-Bader "Patent Smoke Protector” Air Tank, Very Nice Collector's Piece
For your consideration is this very rare Vajen-Bader “Masked Hero” Patent Smoke Protector Air Tank.
The Vajen-Bader Co. produced Fireman's respiratory equipment since founding in 1881. The Vajen-Bader Patent Smoke Protector of the 1890's and early 1900's supplied breathable air from a compressed air cylinder on the back of the helmet. This early respiratory apparatus was comprised of hand stitched chamois leather "specially prepared" so that fire, water, noxious gases and corrosive chemicals were equally without "injurious effect" upon it, and sealed off the wearer’s head from the environment. Firemen could venture into thick smoke without fear of suffocation. One of the helmet’s most desirable features was this compact compression tank (having a pressure of 100 pounds), fabricated circa 1896-1910, that produced fresh 20 degree cooler air to the Firemen. Although there were many attempts to design a mask and tank that would effectively filter out the smoke as well as provide fresh air, the Vajen-Bader Smoke Protector in 1896 was the one that attracted the most attention, and was soon in use across the United States and in many foreign countries as well.
The Protector was adopted by the fire departments of over one hundred of the largest cities, both in America and abroad. It was also used in the largest brewing establishments in the country, and by large mining and gas companies, as well as Naval Firefighters. The very few intact surviving examples are found in private collections and museums.
We took this tank to the Antiques Roadshow on June 29th, 2013 in Boise, ID, for authentication and appraisal. We were thrilled to have frequent contributor and Antique Roadshow Appraiser James Supp inspect the tank. Mr. Supp recognized the tank immediately and verified authenticity and age. The appraised value of an intact Vajen-Bader Protector helmet with the tank: $18,000 or more at sale.
It is speculated that Star Wars writer-director George Lucas drew inspiration from the Vajen-Bader Smoke Protector to create his greatest villain. VAjen-baDER becomes VADER…Darth Vader. The sound of the Vajen-Bader Protector Helmet in operation has been compared to the ominous mechanical breathing of Darth Vader. Take a look at the pictures, and it’s hard to miss the likeness of Vader and C-3P0.
This tank is offered in original “as found” condition with no restoration. It shows a nice patina, no dents or dings, the main valve and supply inlet valve move smoothly. Overall length is approx. 11.5”. Diameter is approx. 6.25”. Please note: The pictures of the hood with the tank are shown for reference. This sale is for the air tank only. If you have the hood/helmet, please let me know. I would be very interested to speak with you.
This is an excellent opportunity to acquire a true and authentic piece of Military, Firefighting, and quite possibly cinematic history, and would be a great addition for any museum or private collection.
The pictures are part of the description so Please use Zoom option. Thanks for looking!
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- Unless otherwise stated, all items are used and sold for rebuild or restoration. All items are untested (when applicable). As with any vintage item, you may find dings, dents, scratches, pitting, dirt, or other imperfections due to age. Again, please use the pictures and zoom option to verify condition. All items should be cleaned, inspected, and if needed, repaired prior to use.
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