Today's high tech football kit may be magnitudes more protective than the bits of molded cow skin you see here but they're not nearly as intimidating. Our friends at Oobject have assembled 12 early examples of these bad ass cranial caretakers.
Spalding lattice helmet from 1893
1900s 'Aviator'-Style Leather Football Helmet
1900s Spalding 'Rain Cap'-Style Leather Football Helmet
1900 Spalding Moleskin and Leather Flat-Top Football Helmet
Late 1910-1920's GoldSmith Dog-Ear Style Leather Football Helmet
Rare 1920s 'Executioner' Leather Football Helmet
Full face executioner style football helmet
United States Tanker's Helmet 1938
This is actually not a football helmet but a military one based on a football one. It shows things going full circle since the original helmets were inspired by gladiators.
1950's Peerless Sporting Goods Football Helmet
The modern form starts to emerge
1956 Lucite Face Mask Helmet
Leather football helmet from 1961-1963
1960s - faceguard becomes standard.