Company information

Charles Edwin Heinke was born on September 4th 1818. He was the son of a Pruissian immigrant, Gottlif Frederick Heinke who was a successful coppersmith and had a business at 103 Great Portland Street, London, since 1819. Charles was later to become a very successful manufacturer of diving equipment. His first helmet appeared around 1844.

Charles adopted the concept of a solid brass breastplate from (probably) William F. Saddler, instead of a beaten copper sheet one. Heinke's window design featured three similarly shaped, circular windows. They were not provided with outer protective grills. This contributed to better visibility, greater interchangeability of parts and made it easier to keep the windows clean.

Heinke worked hard to improve the Siebe style helmet and gradually gained an excellent reputation for reliability and for beeing better designed from the practical point of view.

He later introduced an additional exhaust valve on the front side of the breastplate, these days referred to as the "peppermill". This device made it possible for the diver to ascend and descend fast and as often as he wished. Heinke became world famous with the Pearler style helmet. These helmets featured a square breastplate. They were used in the pearling industry all over the world. The idea was later copied by companies like Siebe, TOA, Robison and Morse. Charles died in 1869 but his company continued. 

As stated above, the first helmet came on the market around 1844, the last one in 1961.

Over the years the company name changed: Until 1905, helmets featured the butterfly style wingnuts, after that regular wingnuts were used.

Unlike Siebe Gorman, who had only one (main) series of numbers, Heinke used many series of numbers. You can therefor encounter a later style helmet with a low number. Today, not much is left of the Heinke archives. For this reason experts have not yet been able to crack the secret of the serial number system. The only handhold we have to put a date on a helmet so far is the classification above.

For a short while after Heinke was taken over in 1961, equipment was given "Siebe-Heinke" tags but eventually the name completely dissapeared. Some of Heinke's original equipment continued to be made and were available from Collins and Chambers Ltd.

Many thanks to Dr. John Bevan for his help on this part.

In the December 1860 issue of "The Civil Engineer and Architects Journal", published in London, a Heinke add appeared.

in 1907 Heinke produced this postcard which confusingly shows a helmet designed
dated 1807 alongside the design which became known as The Pearler.

Air inlet

Over the years, the air inlet changed.

Early style

The non return valve is integrated in the air inlet elbow.
The valve housing reads: 1334 C.E HEINKE'S PATENT LONDON.
The lid on top screws into the valve housing but rests on top with a flange.
At the bottom is the hose retaining nut.

Later style

The non return valve is not integreated in the air inlet elbow and should be screwed on before screwing the air hose on.
The inlet elbow reads HEINKE LONDON

The Heinke company produced many post
cards as advertising promotional material.

To see more follow the link to The Diving Art Chapter