This is a good, practical working helm. I had one like it on a skipjack I captained on the Chesapeake some years ago.
Wooden ships wheels came into use beginning in the early 18th century. By 1790 they were in common use on larger ships though smaller, more humble vessels like fishing schooners and coastal cargo boats still retained use of the bare tiller.
In the mid-19th century, iron foundries began manufacturing wheels in wrought and cast iron. Many of the old shipmasters insisted on having steering stations on deck, with helms exposed to the weather. It was easier to read the wind. Iron wheels held up better in sun and weather.
Our iron wheel was made by Edson of Boston. It measures 30 inches tip to tip. It has a cast iron hub and a cast iron bow, with wrought iron spokes and oak grips. The iron is heavily galvanized to retard rust. The hub is bored for a one-inch shaft. This is a good, practical working helm. I had one like it on a skipjack I captained on the Chesapeake some years ago.