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ROLEX – THE DIVER’S GUIDE
In the 60s, undoubtedly Rolex was the diving watch most wanted and prestigious; having it was a sign of distinction. Considered the success that Rolex obtained during the years, beginning from the manufacture the first Oyster Submariner in 1953, they decided to make a gift to divers, publishing a small booklet of 6 pages with the title "Small guide of diver with self-breathing apparatus". It included a rulebook with valid safety rules, a page with diving signals and, at the end, decompression tables, a version of the French Gers of that period. Nowadays, these tables appear to be incredible because of their allowances; it is sufficient to check times foreseen for a dive at 30 meters and compared them to those indicated in any current dive computer. At that depth, diver could remain for half an hour, to directly ascend to the surface in 1 minute and half, that is at a speed of 20/m/min. Maybe, we now became too prudent!
CVS DACOR NAUTILUS
In 1976, DACOR presented in the market the Nautilus CVS (Constant Volume System), a revolutionary equipment for diver’s buoyancy. The idea of the project was a chamber with rigid shell, functioning like those of submarines, using water as ballast and air for its positive push. In this way, the system was not affected by ambient pressure variations, as it usually happens with standard buoyancy compensators, where their flexible bladder containing air increases or decreases of volume at each depth variation, thus changing diver’s hydrostatic condition. In CVS, hydrostatic balance is obtained at every depth by inflating air to expel surplus water; then, during diving no other maneuvers are needed. In fact, it will be its automatic system equipped with an emergency manual control to maintain unchanged the volume occupied by air, by adding or discharging it every 30 centimeters of depth variation, enough to maintain its pressure equal to the ambient one, thus keeping constant the diver’s hydrostatic balance. Changing the depth, that is the ambient pressure, the only thing that changed was the air density inside its chamber.
Il CVS era previsto per bombole con diametro da 17 o da 18 centimetri e non era consigliato per altri gruppi; inoltre presentava una certa difficoltà d'uso, tanto che la Dacor richiedeva agli acquirenti la frequentazione di un corso specifico. Queste difficoltà hanno portato dopo pochi anni alla messa in pensione anticipata del Nautilus.
During times when divers descended with only one two-hose regulator and buoyancy compensator did not exist, divers’ biggest worry was to have an emergency, obliging them to ascent as fast as possible. Safe-T-Float was produced in Canada for this purpose by International Divers in 1957. It was a small sausage-like device in a belt to be fastened at the waist, functioning with a CO2 bottle: it was sufficient to press its lever and, in few seconds, a bag at the chest level expanded which dragged the diver on the surface, at all speed. The more pessimistic ones could choose the double version, with two bags, paired and independent.
In the TECHNIQUE menu, in Writings and Images about Scuba Diving History this month we publish La Spirotechnique "Les Scaphandre Cousteau-Gagnan" manual, edited after the CG-45 regulator presentation in 1946. At page 14, you see its circuit diagram where inhaling air runs to the left corrugated hose and exhaling air runs to the right, therefore inverted compared to what we always saw in these company’s units. A mistake? Impossible. Maurizio Baldinucci gave me the explanation, always an expert concerning historic regulators:
"At the beginning, CG-45 regulator rotated of 180 degrees compared to the current one, with the consequent inversion of inhaling and exhaling corrugated hoses. To improve the way of the discharge corrugated hose, the respective collector (originally screwed to the regulator body) was folded towards the rear part, as witnessed in the few pieces still existing, owned by collectors. After the first two years of production, the regulator body was oriented in its final position".
The basic model was called Sea Land Splash Twin with its technical characteristics as shown in the sheet in this website. It was known thanks to James Bond. Then, they decided to make it more performant with regards to its autonomy, transforming it in a micro-rebreather recalled Eoba - enriched oxygen breathing apparatus. In the below image you can see its functioning diagram, with the two corrugated hoses around the diver’s head which contain the soda lime filter placed behind the neck. In the front, there is the system to avoid Co2 recycle and the valve to discharge the eventual water inside the hoses; between the two tanks, there is an instrument indicating the residual tank pressure. Nice but probably, James Bond’s experience with the open circuit was enough therefore, this project remained in the drawer’s dreams of its designer.
The Eoba micro-rebreather
THE AUDITORY TANK - Those were times of the manual reserve, a metallic pole to pull and free the remaining 20 or 30 bars of residual air in the single tank when breathing was becoming harder, sufficient to calmly ascend to the surface. To avoid dangerous divers’ distractions and alert companions of the air end, here it comes the auditory reserve, a contraption installed inside the tank to be used as a bell. This sound gave the alarm by reproducing it in the surrounding water. It seems that this sound attracted fishes. See and believe in U.S. Divers catalogue of 1963, available in this website.
THE POCKET GAFF - It was invented in 1968 by Mr. Gengarelli, tired of the obstacle of the standard rigid and long gaff, fussy to keep in the rubber boat and uncomfortable to bring during the dive, where sometimes it was needed to extract preys from their lair. This new gaff was made of small steel bushes, linked by a steel core housed in a pocket case of 11,5 x 17 x 1 cm. Once rigidly blocked, it had an extension of 85 cm.
NEW - "Strange things and extravagances" is now divided into two submenus, with the index of the months and the index of the titles published
COUSTEAU SAID IT - Reading the below sentence, we remind the diving concept that the American Padi tried to export in Europe in the 80s:
Diving is the ideal family sport. It is no longer a sport to be enjoyed only by professionals and adventurous “supermen”: it is a thrilling recreational for the average individual.
It is not like that. This sentence expressed the diving concept that French Jacques Yves Cousteau exported to America, twenty years before; in fact, it was published in U.S. Divers catalogue of 1958. We Europeans, we Italians, how far we were from America in those years!!
THE ANCIENT COMPANY CRESSI SUB - HISTORICAL OFFICES AND BRANDS
It seems that the first name and first address of the current Cressi Sub was the one shown on a supplier's invoice dated March 1941, headed to "Spett. Ditta Rag. Cressi Antonio Egidio - Via Monte Zovetto, 26/7 - Genoa ". Based on the well-documented research of Franco Martini, we know that in 1943 the name changed to "Il Pescatore di Cressi Antonio" and remained so until "49, when it became "Il Pescatore Subacqueo-Cressi" based in Corso Torino, 38 - Genoa , as evidenced by the writings on the spearguns produced at that time and also one of the first advertisements of the company, which became very well known in the restricted sub sector of those times.
Cernia Sport first series 1944
|Jolly in plastic 1955
Il Pescatore Subacqueo - Genova
|Saetta B Esxtra 1964
Cressi Sub - Genoa
Corso Torino is a famous address, considering that from that door one entered the basement where the first spearguns with the Cressi name were handcrafted. From here, above all, Duilio Marcante entered as a rifle officer and then Luigi Ferraro, who became consultant and designer of the Rondine fins and the Pinocchio mask.
|pubblicità Cressi 1949||l'ingresso di corso Torino, 38|
In the early 1950s, a new relocation, this time to via Majorana, 9 in Genova-Quinto where Cressi will remain for many years before moving to the large current headquarters in via Adamoli, 501 along the Bisagno torrent.
The brand remained unchanged until the mid-1960s, when it was simplified to “Cressi-sub - Genoa” as reported for example on the Saetta B Extra speargun. Note the name "Genoa" which often alternates in the writings on the guns with the modern "Genova".
The image below shows Egidio Cressi's rack of sperguns with his notes alongside. The first reads "spring speargun with Glisenti revolver handle" (it was his personal); in the second it is written “a speargun formerly of Gonzatti then of Reinberg which is the prototype of the Cernia Sport”; at the bottom the arrow indicates the "spring winder".
|Egidio Cressi's spearguns|
THE OCTAGONAL BARREL OF ZANGI SPEARGUNS
It can be surprising the discover, after decades, about the unique feature in a famous speargun. Recently, the fortunate owner of a Zangi spring double speargun, the Hunter 2 model of 180 cm, with two levers of power reducers, published in a social network a picture of its enviable piece. The precise look of Vittorio Carta Mantiglia, a real expert in this sector, noted a tag still pending in the gun’s handle, and he enlarged the picture to read it. The short text highlights the barrel’s internal octagonal section, designed to reduce friction. It has never been seen in barrels of this characteristic. An immediate check on the Hunter 1 model was unavoidable, hanging on the wall in good company. The barrel unscrewed and the long spring removed, here is visible its internal octagonal section. More unique than rare.
THE IMPOSSIBLE DRY SUITS
The historic dry suits in rubber leaf without valves, therefore not compensable caused some painful "hugs" even diving for a few meters. We were used to see them in the old books split in two pieces, sealed at the waist between jacket and trousers by a special overlapping belt the guaranteed their tightness. Now, in the section recently opened on this website, devoted precisely to dry suits, we show some surprising models from countries far from Europe.
In particular, we managed to see papers of some American wetsuits made during the 1950s in which the diver "enters" from the front, through a kind of tube or tunnel. We don’t know how difficult was to get the whole body into them. Then the "tube" was twisted and made airtight by tying it with a rubber band, finally pushing the resulting knot inside. To make it all the more incredible is the discovery that dressed like that, looking like sausages, some divers with their rifles used to hunt in free diving.
A wetsuit like this, a model we imagine designed for the summer, is a kind of watertight romper with short sleeves and breeches above the knee. The funny suit seems really to have existed, as we can see from the photos of the technical data sheets.
MISTERIES OF A PICTURE: THE UNKNOWN OXYGEN REBREATHER AND THE INCREDIBLE SPEAR GUN - From " The underwater world " of 1950
By scanning the single-issue famous magazine "Mondo Subacqueo 1950 " - "The underwater world" of 1950 (>Writings and Images about Scubadiving History) my curiosity came across this picture of Egidio Cressi. You can see its strange traits; I enlarged it with Photoshop and, these "strange traits" appeared to be at least three. The first one is that surely it is an awkward photomontage, with which the left picture has been overlapped with another one, with the big grouper kept in vertical position with a too long and bent arm, forgetting to eliminate that horrible horizontal band.
Then, there is the dilemma of the spear gun, unreal as it appears. I asked for help to a specialist, Vittorio Carta Mantiglia and, I agree with his theory that it is a classic spring spear fun partially covered by a shorter one, probably the prototype of a Mignon gun with internal rubber bands, which will be in the catalogue one year later.
At the end, the most important question is: what is the strange oxygen rebreather with two upper hoses which end in a kind of pouch in the back neck? It looks like the CF-49 rebreather model, the only known device of Cressi Sub with double filter but, in this one, there is no trace of an upper prosecution. Then, going back to combing through the catalogs of the House, we found it in the 1952 edition, where it had passed almost unnoticed since it had the same name as the previous CF-49. But why did it appear only in that year? What happened to it?
Here, the big experience and skills of the researcher Maurizio Baldinucci came useful who, in few days, made the discovery. The truth stayed in America. It is the Cressi Lung O2 rebreather, one prototype based precisely on the CF-49 one, integrated by the counterlung behind the nape, as you can see in the pictures of its technical sheet. It was proposed to the US Navy, but it did not pass the Nedu test (Navy Experimental Diving Unit) so, it was lost in our memories.
THE OLDEST FISH IN THE WORLD - From "Underwater world" magazine of 1950
"It is difficult to say with certainty until which age fishes can live. Of a small family of gudgeon fishes, the Aphya pellucida, we know that they live only one year. Until now, extensive research made in the Mediterranean Sea found sardines of no more than 2 years of age. From observations made on growth rate it is concluded that some fish species which reach huge dimensions may have several hundreds of years .... The famous naturalist of XVI century, Corrado Gesner in his History of Animals talked about a Keyserweg pike which had two hundred and seventy-seven years. He was able to count them from a ring in the pike, where there was this inscription in Greek language: "I am the fish to be put in this lake first from the hands of Federico II, the Universe Master on October 5, 1230". Recent studies confirmed that it is possible to recognize the fish age from their scales".
CG/45 REGULATOR - The CG / 45 regulator from La Spirotechnique began to be marketed in 1946 and its first version, very rare, is immediately distinguished by two striking differences. The first one concerns the absence of the plate bearing the name of the manufacturer and the address: in its place there is only the serial number engraved directly on the back of the body, nearby the yoke. The second difference is in the mouthpiece assembly, here consisting of a simple smooth curved metal tube on which the actual mouthpiece is applied. Only in the 1947 the model will come out with the plate and the linear mouthpiece assembly with the ring nuts for tightening the hoses
(from the Spiro-Vintage website).
DRY SUITS - Next month we will inaugurate a new section dedicated to historical dry suits. Looking at the many models produced in rubber foil up to the mid-1960s, a question arises: why in the first 25 years were they produced without valves, ie without the possibility of compensating them, with the considerable inconveniences that came from? Why nobody thought about that in the 1950s when the emergency Bcd was already here, (with a bottle of compressed air) ? There was only a few wetsuit with a small tube on the chest used to release the air trapped inside before the dive; in some cases it was certainly also used to introduce air into it with the mouth. Was it possible that the first to apply the fill and drain valves was Poseidon with its neoprene Unisuit in 1968? Does anyone have different information about it? Please share with us your knowledge
THE WHITE FASHION
Very few dive gears were manufactured in white color; one that I remember is the Rio mask in 1969 of Technisub and few accessories, nothing else. Instead in the USA there was a company that already in 1964 produced fins and masks only in white, white which among other things brought out the amber shade of the glass with which the masks were supplied as standard. As we can see in the Globe Riviera catalog published this month in the Complete Catalogs section.
In 1959, U.S. Divers proposed for snorkeling an extremely complicated mask, with three-point headboard, dedicated to the person who wanted everything. In fact, it included a central snorkel facing back for nasal breathing, and a second snorkel to the right for mouth breathing. The latter was inserted into the central one near the valve, which guaranteed perfect sealing in any position. You can see it on page 14 of the "Divemaster" catalog of that year
(DA REX HEVEA) - (No english translation)
CROCIERE SUB 1954
Per i tre mesi del dell'estate 1954 viene organizzata una serie di crociere private nelle località più pescoso dell'arcipelago toscano e della Sardegna, per piccoli gruppi di pescatori subacquei appassionati della vita avventurosa sul mare.
Le crociere vengono effettuate con una moto barca cabinata capace di ospitare un massimo di sei persone, particolarmente attrezzata per tale impiego.
A seconda del numero dei partecipanti e della durata di ciascun turno, vengono stabilite le quote (a titolo di partecipazione alle spese di vitto, alloggio, servizi, carburante e noleggio del mezzo).
Ciascun crocerista porta le sue attrezzature personali per la pesca; può usufruire anche dei mezzi disponibili a bordo, il cui uso addestra, se desiderato, un istruttore di categoria nazionale. Il primo turno, dal 21 al 30 giugno compresi, attende il primo gruppo di subacquei per la "battuta di apertura": non tardate! Maggiori chiarimenti e particolari si possono ottenere rivolgendosi alla redazione di pesca sport (Galleria Mazzini n. 7/4, Genova).
CENTRO SUBACQUEO di NERVI 1954
Sotto gli auspici dell'azienda autonoma di soggiorno e con la collaborazione dell'assessorato al turismo e dell'ente provinciale turismo di Genova vengono organizzati:
- Corsi settimanali dal lunedì al sabato nei mesi estivi
- Lezioni di nuoto, immersione e caccia subacquea
- Corsi per autorespiratori a ossigeno e ad aria
- Immersioni e battute di caccia nelle località pescose della Riviera: Portofino, Camogli, Sestri Levante, Monterosso, ecc.
- Le prime lezioni per principianti saranno effettuate allo stabilimento "Bagni Scogliera" in Nervi; in caso di cattivo tempo alle "Piscine Comunali" di Albaro.
Partecipate nel quadro dell'organizzazione Herbelein-Marcante-Hotel Savoia Beeler ai Corsi del Centro Subacqueo di Nervi!
Conoscerete il meraviglioso mondo sommerso che ben pochi prima di voi hanno violato!
Fascinose immersioni nell'irreale scenario sottomarino.
Le emozioni della caccia subacquea.
La gioia e lo stupore della scoperta vi attendono.
ERRORI NEL CATALOGO CRESSI 1952
(Errors in the Cressi catalog 1952)
No english translation
Attenzione! A pag. 13 del catalogo c’è un evidente refuso nella composizione tipografica, tanto che il funzionamento del fucile Excelsior a molla ad estensione (o distensione) appare fuorviante e tecnicamente incompatibile. Invertendo invece un paio di paragrafi ecco risolto il problema e tutto risulta chiaro, per cui riscriviamo la pagina come dovrebbe essere:
"Anche questo fucile viene costruito nei due tipi: Cernia (intero) e Cernia Sport (smontabile). Particolare di grande pregio, che lo pone su un piano di superiorità rispetto ad armi simili è l’avere introdotto la congiunzione tra canna e molla in coda alla stessa anziché alla bocca del fucile. Ciò al momento dello sparo evita il contraccolpo dato dalla massa della molla che torna in posizione di riposo. Il ritegno è qui realizzato da una asticciola interna fissata al fondo del fucile che dopo lo sparo trattiene la molla all’estremità posteriore, cosicché, rispetto a questo punto di trattenuta la massa della molla rimane avanti e può liberamente sfogarsi, fuoriuscendo parzialmente dalla canna e dando luogo ad un ammortizzamento dolce e senza scosse.
Altra qualità di quest’arma è la dolcezza del congegno di scatto, costituito da un originale sistema meccanico che pur realizzando un aggancio della molla oltremodo sicuro, non risente affatto della grande potenza della stessa e permette lo sparo con una lieve pressione dell’indice.
Nella gamma dei fucili potenti a molla vai infine compreso l’Excelsior. Si differenzia dagli altri per avere la molla a distensione anziché a compressione.
È noto come con questo principio si raggiunga un certo vantaggio nel caricamento in quanto lo sforzo richiesto è solo lievemente superiore alla reale potenza della molla.
Data la caratteristica di grande elasticità della molla, nel caricamento dell’Excelsior è più facile ottenere lo scopo con uno scatto unico anziché a sforzi successivi come avviene in genere con altri fucili."
THE ORIGINS OF SPEAR FISHING DIVING
from Cressi Sub catalogue of 1952
“Where, when and how the exercise of spear fishing diving began can be recognized without doubts if we mention Polynesian divers who dive with a diving dagger or a grappling hook fixed in their forearm, and Japanese divers who chase fishes in their element armed of a long, thin lance; they consider themself the ancestors of this young sport which affirmed so well during the last ten years.
It is more difficult to establish a priority of the exercise of spear fishing diving intended as a sport. It is true that Italians, in the Istrian coasts, gave the first idea to the Austrian pioneer Hans Haas however, it is certain that the first perfectioned gear were manufactured in France; diving, as a sport, began to diffuse in the French Riviera, by rapidly spreading, almost immediately, in the Ligurian Riviera and in the Spanish coasts.
The same progresses and improvements reached both in the gear and in the technical-scientific sector, so much in the photo-video documents as in the literary-artistic production, as well as in the professional and association fields clearly show that France and Italy are at the forefront, and that it must be recognized to France and Italy if, in a very short period of time, spear fishing diving as a sport conquered the world”.
THE “DO IT YOURSELF” AT THE TIME OF THE HISTORICAL SCUBA DIVING – 4°
We continue the publication of some pages of Italian and foreign magazines from the 1950s and 1960s, a window on the life and customs practices of the still rare divers of those times, on their inventiveness and ability to build hard-to-find or too expensive objects at home.
The February 1959 issue of the UK publication "Newnes Practical Mechanics" teaches you how to build a dry suit. The same thing is found in the Italian "System A" of August of the same year in an article that is not identical but very similar. Trade deals or what?
THE “DO IT YOURSELF” AT THE TIME OF THE HISTORICAL SCUBA DIVING – 3°
we continue the publication of some pages of the Italian "System A" magazines from the "50s and" 60s of the last century, a window on the life and customs practices of the still rare divers of those times, on their inventiveness and ability to build hard-to-find or too expensive objects at home. The April 1952 issue teaches how to make a spring rifle yourself, then the harpoon or the spear with which to arm it.
Thanks to Marco “Willy” Guglielmino for making his collection of specialized magazines available to us.
NEW IN THIS MONTH: THE FIRST TITLE (A) IS DEDICATED TO HISTORICAL EQUIPMENT, THE SECOND TITLE (B) INAUGURATES THE "DO IT YOURSELF" OF THE DIVING OF THE YEARS 1950-1960
A) PATENTS OF HISTORICAL EQUIPMENT - THE CRESSI SUB FIBER FINS
We continue with the publication of the extracts of the patent documents of some historical equipment. This month we present the Cressi Sub company patent relating to its fiber fins from 1994.
B) IL “FAI DA TE” AI TEMPI DELLA SUBACQUEA STORICA – 2°
Pubblichiamo questo mese alcune pagine delle riviste “Sistema A” del 1960 e 1962, una finestra sulle pratiche di vita e di costume degli ancora rari sub di quei tempi, sulla loro inventiva e capacità di costruirsi in casa oggetti difficili da trovare o troppo costosi.
La Rivista d 1960 insegna a realizzare in proprio un fucile a elastici particolare, mentre nel numero di agosto 1962 si impare a ricavare una maschera subacquea da una maschera antigas, residuato bellico a quei tempi comunissimo.
Un particolare ringraziamento a Marco “Willy” Guglielmino per averci messo a disposizione la sua raccolta di riviste specializzate italiane e straniere
NEW IN THIS MONTH: THE FIRST TITLE (A) IS DEDICATED TO HISTORICAL EQUIPMENT, THE SECOND TITLE (B) INAUGURATES THE "DO IT YOURSELF" OF THE DIVING OF THE YEARS 1950-1960
A) PATENTS OF HISTORICAL EQUIPMENT - THE COLOMBO REGULATOR
We continue with the publication of the extracts of the patent documents of some historical equipment. This month we present the Colombomatic patent for its beautiful regulator.
B) THE “DO IT YOURSELF” AT THE TIME OF THE HISTORICAL SCUBA DIVING - 1st
This month we publish some pages of the italian "System A Notebooks" of 1958 and the "System A" magazines of 1961, a window on the life and customs practices of the still rare divers of those times, on their inventiveness and ability to build hard-to-find or too expensive objects at home.
In the Notebooks of 1958 we see how a gadget was built to drive out fish, now prohibited and horrifying; then there are plans to ballast the huge round masks of the time, to build a harpoon and other things.
The 1961 magazine instead teaches how to make even an underwater scooter on its own, a very rare medium in those days.
A special thanks to Marco "Willy" Guglielmino for making available to us his collection of specialized Italian and foreign magazines.
PATENTS FOR HISTORICAL EQUIPMENT
We continue with the publication of the extracts of the patent documents of some famous equipment. This month we present the patent of Eng. Carlo Alinari relating to the hydropneumatic speargun proposed in various executive solutions: in particular, those adopted for the construction of the Hydramatic by Sos and the Hydra series by Alcedo.
PATENTS FOR HISTORICAL EQUIPMENT
The reorganization and partial conversion to digital of various paper archives in which for decades the files relating to many sectors has proved to be a very difficult task, the end of which appears increasingly remote.
To give you the strenght to go on with this discovery, every now and then you happen to drop in something particularly interesting that we had completely forgotten. This is the case of an embarrassing bundle of cards I came across with, voluminous and anonymous. Once tidied up, the many sheets turned out to be copies of the original documents with which some famous and now historic equipment had been patented. In these pages the most interesting patents will be reported, starting this month with Pinocchio, the mythical mask of Cressi Sub, followed by the cousin Granfacciale.
NO CERTAINTY - Surely when we read, we learn however, sometimes, it happens that we question what we believed to be our absolute certainties. Or, at least, some doubts arise.
SINGLE-HOSE REGULATOR – For example, it is commonly known that the first single-hose regulator was invented by the Australian Ted Eldred who began selling it in 1952 with the Porpoise name. This is not true; we need to clarify it: now we learned that this record belongs to the American E.R. Cross with its Sport Diver regulator in 1949. Maurizio Baldinucci refers in its article "History and development of the single-hose regulator" presented in this website in the “Let’s talk about” section. We will discuss this subject in his next detailed article.
WATERPROOF CANERA – We believed that the Calypso Phot, which than became Nikonos, was the first waterproof camera, born from a brilliant idea of Cousteau and produced by the Belgian Jean de Wouters for La Spirotechnique in 1961. More recently, we thought to have discovered that the record of this invention had to be addressed to the Austrian Schaefer, who made a waterproof camera perfectly functioning in 1958 dedicated to macro pictures; at the end, he left this project as a prototype now, hidden in a showcase of the Aquazoo Löbbecke Museum of Düsseldorf, Germany. Now we "discover" that, in the USA, the Aqua-Cam camera of the Eastern Scuba Supply was sold in 1954. You can see it in the Fotoinesub section and in the Virginio Masera collection in its https://www.museosubacqueotorinese.com website.
MASK EQUALIZATION – We knew that the technological process to equalize goggles or monogoggles (goggles with one glass and free nose) was the old system of the Japanese Ama divers until 1942 when Maxine Forjod had the idea to include the nose in its round mask. By reading again the ancient book "between sharks and corals" of Hans Hass, which talks about his adventures in Curaçao and Bonaire during the summer of 1939, it seems that someone discovered a different solution already at that time, by equipping the monogoggle with a small hose to blow air with the mouth.
STAINLESS STEEL SPEARGUNS – It is not true that the only ancient stainless steel spearguns were the Italian Super Trident of Salvas in 1967 and Vico Jet de Luxe of Mares proposed right after, the second one in stainless steel only on request. In fact, Salvas made available in 1966 its precious S-1 speargun with stainless steel frame and tank. Three pieces that today, together, could make any collector happy.
MASKS WITH LEVERS - Mordem was the first, in 1961, to introduce a round mask with incorporated levers; it remained the only one to have the direct control of the levers though its glass. Voit liked this idea and, in 1962, it presented the 50 fathom diving mask that was very different in its manufacturing; in fact, levers worked from the outside to two small internal pockets situated in the lower part of the mask, at the nose sides.
Same problem for the large Nemrod Max Vue mask with 3 glasses. Also, this mask had levers bypassing from the outside below the mask frame, acting on two large internal pockets positioned at the nose sides. The finger housing to equalize the nose was substituted by these levers.
BACK-MOUNTED SCOOTER – The Aquanaut SPU was an underwater scooter to be fixed in the back, under the tank driven with the body movements, so that the diver had free hands. Its 2-speed engine could reach 4 mile/h. It weighted only 12 Kg. Its characteristics made it a unit suitable also for surface navigation, perfect for disabled people. With this introduction, the American Aquadyn Underwater Technologies presented it in 2000 and, at that time, it seemed to be successful. Where it is now?
SO MANY DIVING GEAR – In the second half of the 1970, the adventure and discovery age is almost finished but, the season of tropical journeys dedicated to divers begins. Diving gear explodes, latest brands and new products are born continuously. At the end of 1978, in the diving boom, the choice is huge. Looking at the catalogues and yearbooks of that time, it comes out that the Italian marked offered several models of diving gear, new and well known. The main ones were: snorkels 68 - cylinders 39 – weight belts 24 - knives 71 – compressors 18 – underwater cameras and video recorders 62 - regulators 47 - speargun 189 – ring-like BDC 14 – torches 45 - masks 109 - suits 118 – diving watches 19 - fins 51 – depth gauge 78, besides an impressive quantity of accessories.
THE OLDEST SCHOOL - Luigi Ferraro, on behalf of the Cressi company and in logistic cooperation with the Italian Touring Club organization, in the summer of 1948 organizes a diving course in Marina di Campo, in Elba island: this is the first diving school in the world. Together with him, his wife Orietta and Edmondo Sorgetti, of Gamma (Italian Navy special forces) and of sponge fishing. The only breathing apparatus that they had were their very old personal ones from the war, that is the oxygen rebreathers. In fact, oxygen rebreather is just born. The Cousteau regulator produced by a La Spirotechnique is still a rare and little-known piece. After Elba island, Ferraro and his friends transfer to Ischia island and, in 1950 to the almost unknown, at that time, Tremiti islands.
The one at Tremiti island is not a diving course as the previous ones in Elba and Ischia but, the first diving school cruise, on board of the Laura boat. This diving school cruise is so successful that, in 1951 is repeated in the Pontino archipelago, among Ponza, Zannone and Palmarola islands. All this and much more of our history can be read in the book "Luigi Ferraro, un Italiano" of Ninì Cafiero.
THE FIRST UNDERWATER VIDEO RECORDER HOUSING– At the beginning of 1970, underwater video recorder housings were already available in many models, both amatorial and professional. At their top for quality and performances we find a majestic, unique black housing. It is the Swiss Bolex Paillard of 1971, dedicated to the prestigious 16 mm video recording of the same historical company which purchased, soon after, by the Austrian Eumig. This latter will be the “queen” of this sector, presenting in 1979, the first underwater video recorder in the market. However, his history is a thrilling one. It was the inventor Kurt Schaefer who created it, presenting his project very naively to Eumig that, right after, put it in production: but under his brand and without rewarding anything to Schaefer, who suited the company for stealing his project. Unfortunately, he did not obtain anything because, after a while, the company Eumig bankrupted.
LA SPIROTECHNIQUE REGULATORS - Sometime ago, the regulators manufactured by La Spirotechnique had a hose coming from the left, opposite to all the others in the world where the hose was coming from the right. The reason was simple. The Fenzy ring-style BCD and then the real BCDs produced in the following years by the French company had the breathing emergency corrugated hose on its right so that the hose was designed on its left, not to create confusion and possible hindrances during critical situations.
CRESSI – There is a model, perhaps a prototype of the FOLGORE spring speargun of 1958 with a remarkable peculiarity: a control to set trigger sensibility. In the handle left side a visible brass lever protrudes with which, by an internal deferment and two contrast springs, acts on a skid that pushes the rounded internal head of the trigger (Speagun > Cressi > Folgore).
SEA DIVING – In 1988, this company from Gallipoli in the south of Italy, presented a revolutionary diving suit in neoprene with incorporated BCs, named UNIGAV. It had a double layer in the breast and in the hips to form ai air bag, it was supplied by the tank and equipped with load and download valves, as in the dry suits. It did not succeed much, because it was tied when filled with air, and for its reduced positive jog.
REVOLUTIONARY REGULATOR - Explorer Maior, introduced by Pirelli in 1960, was the brother of the famous Explorer Standard. With air, it had to function as an open circuit standard regulator while with Nitrox or other mixes, it should transform in an original semi-closed circuit, by filtering the CO2 with a small amount of sodalime and recycling the breathing gas. Moreover, with oxygen, it could function exactly as an oxygen rebreather, that is as a closed circuit. Evidently, some design naiveties and some defects denied it any success but, maybe, the inspiring idea of this old project, probably ended only with some test units, should merit to be recaptured.
THE FIRST BOOK - Many years ago, in the Commander Cousteau’s cabin in the Calypso, there was a copy of The Complete Goggler, surely the first book ever published about spearfishing diving. It was written in 1938 by the American journalist Guy Gilpatric, telling his diving adventures in the Cap d’Antibes sea, where it moved in 1929. It dived with modified aviator goggles – the book title means “the perfect man with goggles” and a spear in his hand, terrifying the naïve groupers that inhabited the sea bottom of the French Riviera. A fun that became fashion few years later, when the first fins invented by De Corlieu introduced the age of modern diving. Gilpatric had a big social success and taught to others his art, having among his first students the Austrian Hans Hass. This story is reported in another book, that became precious: “The Man under the sea” of James Dugan, published in Italy by in 1957.
AQUA LUNG International is a division of the Air Liquide French group and, today, it is the world largest manufacturer of diving gear, present in different Countries in the world, with branches that own the most prestigious brands. Originally, Aqua Lung was the generic name given in the Anglo-Saxon countries to the Cousteau-Gagnan breathing apparatus "Scafandre Autonome", forged by Henri Dolisie of Montreal, Canada. It was than patented in the United State and, since, it is synonym of breathing apparatus.
JETSTREAM OF 40th – the 1.000 Jetstream regulators of 1958-1998 produced by the Swedish Poseidon in occasion of its 40th anniversary and distributed all over the world, flashy for its huge second stage, silver-colored as its first stage, are very difficult to find also in the flea markets. And, because of this, since sometime “fake” offers began, to be frank semi-fake offers. This means that people offer some Jetstream regulators composed by the second stage of this series assembled with a standard first stage because, in the market, there are much more second stages of this 40 anniversary then first stages, cranked out by Poseidon for those wishing a silver octopus set. Those commemoratives are, instead, specifically marked also in the first stage. Its functioning is unchanged, but the collector value is also if, until now, they are still part of modern items.
MARES - SAFE fitting dated 1976 for the double cylinders was special, not only for its dimensions and weight. To guarantee safety, its side connection to fix the secondary air source "was catching" under the reserve thus, if for any reason the reserve did not open, changing to the secondary air source bypassed it. Vice versa, if someone was breathing from its secondary air source and the reserve did not open, all air could be used changing to its primary regulator in the central position.
TECHNISUB - ARALU cylinders of the 70s – 80s in good conditions are valued by collectors, above all, if they have their visible red stickers, intact or almost. However, be careful to these differences: those made in the first years were much more spectacular; in fact, they had the "moustache” in the upper position bigger than the logo and there was frame while, in the next years, the moustache became smaller aligning it with the logo. Everything framed by a black border line. This solution was firstly reserved to the small 4-liter cylinder then expanded to the larger one, as you can begin seeing in the 1986 catalogue (Virtual Museum > Cylinders and regulators > Cylinders).
SALVAS SHARK - The pneumatic Trident spear gun of 1966 was followed, after one year, by the Super Tident, produced completely in stainless steel, for the most demanding clients. These cannot be found anymore, so it must be said that its production was very little.
MARES - Also the Vico Jet De Luxe of 1967 has been proposed the year after in a limited series all in stainless steel, as it is clearly demonstrated by its weight: 2.600 grams against .275 grams of the standard model (Spean Guns > Mares > Vico Jet De Luxe stainless steel).
DIVING HOUSINGS FOR UNDERWATER VIDEO OPERATORS - During the pioneering years, we saw any type and model, but one is unique for its brilliant simplicity. Rossella Paternò described it in her fascinating article about the incredible life of Leni Riefenstahl, incomparable photographer and director during the years preceding the Second Wolrd War (Hds News, March 2016). This housing was built from a cut soccer ball; the camera was positioned inside, with the porthole built with a thick glass, framed and bolt for watertight seal. It functioned perfectly and, for the first time in the world, the divers during the Berlin Olympiads in 1936 were filmed underwater.
CRESSI - In the USA they call it HOOKAH (Surface Air Supply). It is an open helmet supplied from the surface via a floating air hose. It is still used for recreational dives in small depths. In Europe it is not known so, it is a wonder to discover in the first page of the old Cressi catalogue-price list in 1947 called "diving bell" and listed under the title "diving half helmet". Price is not shown (Technical > Catalogues and logos of diving manufacturers > Complete catalogues - 1947 Cressi catalogue).
PORPOISE -It is the first world regulator with one single hose, officially presented in 1952 in Australia. Its prototype dates 1949, when the CG45 of Cousteau was just marketed. At that time, no one suspected that someone could develop small, practical and simple regulators, instead of the 2-hose bulky ones. "The Porpoise" book, edited some years ago in limited copies, tells its story with lots of interesting details but it is sold out. Recently, there has been a reprint of 50 copies. You can try to have it by writing to Mel Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
SOS - DCP decompression instruments (bend-O-meter) with plastic (kralastic) housing had, in the first years, a band positioned between two small metal arches, blocked in spaces made at the housing outside. These spaces often break so, in 1964 this system changes and the band become a belt loop, inside the housing. This allows to date with more accuracy one’s own instrument.