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Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century Italy: Mares and Pirelli

Discussion in 'History of Diving Gear' started by David Wilson, Jul 8, 2020.

  1. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Fourth and penultimate snorkel of the day is the Mares Elton Milano:
    upload_2020-10-14_11-1-49.jpeg upload_2020-10-14_11-2-9.jpeg
    4. S-500 MILANO. One-piece moulded elbow insures quick clearing. Comes with orange reflector top. Individually boxed. $1.75.

    This snorkel is named after the city of Milan, Milano in Italian, which is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome. The "Milano" is like the Mares "Tubo C":
    upload_2020-9-27_10-43-52-jpeg.614617.jpg
    Italian: "Art. 1122 - C. Con boccaglio curvo. I modelli 1122 e 1198 D vengono forniti, a richiesta, con tubo flessibile."
    Rough translation: "Art. 1122 - C. With curved mouthpiece. Models 1122 and 1198 D are supplied, on request, with flexible barrel."

    This rubber-elbow J-shaped snorkel design remained in production at Mares from 1959 to 1976.
     
  2. АлександрД

    АлександрД Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Moscow, Russia
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    Just as extra information....
    - balloons was invented and used just for googles (without "nose"), and useless for half-masks (with "nose"), because you have not ability to compensate pressuer under googles, but easy can do it under half-mask.
     
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  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Fifth and final snorkel of the day is the Mares Elton Monaco:
    upload_2020-10-14_11-14-18.jpeg
    upload_2020-10-14_11-14-36.jpeg
    5. S-400 MONACO. Recreational snorkel ideal for youth. Rubber moulded elbow with large white plastic breathing tube. Packages in plastic bag. $1.50.

    The "Monaco" appears to be a junior version of the rubber-elbow J-shaped "Tubo C", probably named after the principality of Monaco, which is a sovereign city-state and microstate on the French Riviera in Western Europe. I say "probably" because "Monaco di Baviera" is Italian for Munich (in the German state of Bavaria) while "Monte Monaco" is the name of a mountain on the Italian island of Sicily.

    That's my contribution for today. During the weekend I'll move on to Mares masks with built-in snorkels, starting with the Mares Mia and Paraggi snorkel-masks. Stay safe and stay well!
     
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thanks again, everyone!

    As promised, we move on now to Mares snorkel-masks. A reminder first that early European snorkel-masks were not designed to serve as beach toys for the very young. The underlying rationale was that combining vision and breathing into a single device might be of use to underwater hunters, who required both hands to hold their guns or their prey and therefore had no convenient means of snorkel mouthpiece insertion or removal. We'll begin with the Mia Mares (Italian for "My Mares") snorkel-mask.

    1959
    upload_2020-10-18_10-21-7.png

    1963
    upload_2020-10-18_10-22-11.png
    Italian: "Art. 1114 - MIA MARES. Con respiratore. Buon campo visivo. Facciale di media grandezza per ragazzi. Vetro rotondo."
    Rough translation: "Art. 1114 - MIA MARES. With snorkel. Good field of vision. Medium-sized faceplate for youngsters. Round lens."

    So this item is designed for youngsters with a medium size to match their facial dimensions. One of the linguistic problems I have identified when researching Italian snorkel-masks is the word "facciale", literally "facial" and applied as a noun to such masks. There is a temptation to render "facciale" as "full-face", which implies that such "faceplates" always cover the mouth as well as the eyes and the nose. In fact, many mid-twentieth-century snorkel-mask models left the user's mouth uncovered with the added option of breathing through the nose if desired. Sometimes the bottom of the snorkel-mask skirt was extended on the inside to fit under the chin for full-face use with eye, nose and mouth coverage, but not invariably. I cannot therefore say for certain whether the Mia Mares snorkel-mask, or indeed any Mares snorkel-mask, was a half- or full-face mask. The product descriptions leave us none the wiser.

    On a final note, pay attention to the position of the single snorkel on Mares snorkel-masks, which is on the user's right in this case. The majority of single-snorkel masks have the tube on the left. Note too the hinged float valve atop the barrel to shut off the supply end when the wearer submerges. Mares appears to have discontinued production of the Mia Mares youth snorkel-mask in the early 1960s.
     
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Second snorkel-mask of the day is the Mares Paraggi. The Italian plural noun "Paraggi" normally signifies "neighbourhoods, environs" but can also be used as a nautical term meaning "coastal waters", which seems particularly applicable here:

    Early 1950s
    upload_2020-10-18_11-14-56.png
    Italian: "Maschera Paraggi. Vetro ovale o tondo bloccato da ghiera. Carcassa in gomma rigida verde. Snorkel con speciale valvola a tamburo. Misura unica media."
    Rough translation: "Paraggi Mask. Oval or round glass lens retained by band. Hard green rubber body. Snorkel with special rotating valve. Medium size only.

    1959
    upload_2020-10-18_11-23-53.png

    1963
    upload_2020-10-18_11-25-16.png
    Italian: "Art. 1115 — PARAGGI. Con respiratore. Grande campo visivo sia per l’osservazione che per la caccia subacquea. Facciale per adulti. Vetro rotondo. Può essere fornita anche con cerchietto in Moplen e lente quadrangolare."
    Rough translation: "Art. 1115 — PARAGGI. With snorkel. Great visibility not only for observation but also for underwater fishing. Mask for adults. Round glass. May also be supplied with Moplen rim and quadrangular lens."

    So while the "Mia Mares" snorkel-mask appealed to adventurous youth, the Mares Paraggi targeted the adult market with the more professional look of a stainless-steel lens-retaining band for surface observation or underwater hunting. Variants came with oval or rectangular lenses or with plastic rims for the budget-minded. Note the change over time from a right-handed snorkel to one on the left.

    1969
    upload_2020-10-18_11-39-9.jpeg
    Italian: "Articolo 1102 Paraggi. Facciale per adulti. Grande campo visivo per l’osservazione e la caccia subacquea. Vetro rotondo. A richiesta, viene anche fornita con cerchietto in moplen e lente quadrangolare."
    English: "Item 1102 Paraggi. Mask for adults. Maximum visibility for observation and underwater fishing. Round glass. May be supplied upon request with moplen rim and quadrangular lens."
    French: "Article 1102 Paraggi. Prévu pour adultes, glace ronde, large champ de vision pour l’observation et la chasse sous-marine. Sur demande bande en Moplen et glace quadrangulaire."

    So the now trilingual product description remains the same except for the stock number, which has changed from 1115 to 1102. Note the translator's use of "mask" to render "facciale", thus side-stepping the query how much face coverage this model offers.

    1974
    upload_2020-10-18_11-53-55.png
    As it passed into the 1970s, the Mares Paraggi became the "Nuova Paraggi", the "New Paraggi" like other Mares of the time. Note the plastic rim replacing the stainless-steel band of the 1960s. The Nuova Paraggi appears to have ceased production before 1975 came around.

    That's my 2 cents' worth for today. Midweek should bring one or two Mares snorkel-masks for review. We'll have a close look then at the Mares San Remo snorkel-mask. I recently acquired one of my own, increasing my collection of old-school snorkel-masks to 22 models. Stay safe, stay well.
     
  6. Angelo Farina

    Angelo Farina Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Parma, ITALY
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    Paraggi is the name of a very nice location near Genoa...
    It is the bay next to Portofino's bay.
    Paraggi - Wikipedia
     
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thanks, Angelo! That makes much more sense, considering the manufacturer's tendency to use Genoese toponyms when naming their early products. I don't know how I missed that sense of "Paraggi" during my online research.:)
    1280px-Paraggi.jpg
     
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  8. Popgun Pete

    Popgun Pete Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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    The mask equipped snorkels with swing or cage valves are not very suitable for diving down as the hydrodynamic drag affects the stability of the mask on your head. Snorkelling was originally a surface swimming activity and spearfishermen often took pot shots from the surface in shallow water and did not dive down that much (some early spearguns were built to float or exploited the fact that they were shot from the surface). When surface conditions are choppy or swells are rolling through this can swamp the top of the snorkel, hence the barrel length and the presence of valves. Experienced divers usually don't bother about this as they are used to blasting water out almost reflexively and feel the lift as water surges past, especially when not facing incoming waves and adjust their breathing intake accordingly. Many of the early snorkel masks are in a sense not dive masks, but surface swimming masks. Underwater vegetation can drag on valve equipped snorkel tubes if you swim through it at depth near the bottom, something that has less effect on a snorkel attached to the mask strap.
     
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thanks again, everybody, and here particularly to Pete with his spearfishing insights on early snorkel-mask use. I'm especially taken by Pete's use of the phrase "mask equipped snorkel" to denote a snorkel-mask, because it neatly matches Albert VanderKogel's classification of combined masks and snorkels as "mask snorkels" in his book Underwater Sport (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1955) to indicate a shift in emphasis from underwater vision with the mask to a nose breathing option with the snorkel:
    upload_2020-10-21_9-27-55.jpeg
    For the record, he calls separate snorkels attached to the head or mask strap "pipe snorkels":
    upload_2020-10-21_9-29-17.jpeg
     
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    On to the next Mares snorkel-mask, which happens to be the "San Remo" or "Sanremo". I mentioned that I had one in my collection and Italian diving collector and historian Luigi Fabbri has kindly displayed it on his excellent Blu Times History website:
    MARES%20Sanremo%20web%20-%201.jpg
    MARES%20Sanremo%20web%20-%202.jpg
    MARES%20Sanremo%20web%20-%203.jpg
    But "to begin at the beginning", the opening words of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's "Play for Voices" Under Milk Wood, we must trace the San Remo back to 1959, where the following descriptionless image of the snorkel-mask first appears:
    upload_2020-10-21_9-57-1.png
    At this stage the model only comes with a stock number, namely 1116. Take a moment to review the twin snorkels emerging from the top of the mask, fitted with float-operated swing valves at the air supply end.

    Here is the snorkel-mask in 1963:
    upload_2020-10-21_10-4-44.png
    Italian:
    "Art. 1116 — SAN REMO. Con doppio respiratore. Grande campo visivo per l’osservazione in superficie. Vetro rotondo. Può essere fornita anche con cerchietto in Moplen e lente quadrangolare.
    Rough translation: "Art. 1116 — SAN REMO.
    With double snorkel. Wide vision for observation on the surface. Round glass. May also be supplied with Moplen rim and quadrangular lens."

    The snorkel-mask now has a name: San Remo, which is also the name of a Mares Elton snorkel:
    upload_2020-10-21_10-12-16.jpeg upload_2020-10-21_10-12-50.jpeg
    This snorkel and today's snorkel mask are both named after the city of Sanremo or San Remo on the Mediterranean coast of Liguria, in northwestern Italy.

    Have you noticed another difference between the 1959 and 1963 versions of the snorkel-mask yet? No? Then let's proceed to the San Remo snorkel-mask in 1964:
    upload_2020-10-21_10-17-7.jpeg
    German: "SAN REMO (ital.). Doppelschnorchelmaske, runde Sichtscheibe aus Kunststoff, mit Sprengrahmen, breites, verstellbares Nackenband. Best.-Nr. 164. DM 13,85."
    Rough translation: "SAN REMO (Italian). Double snorkel mask, round plastic lens, with snap-on rim, wide, adjustable headstrap. Order No. 164. DM 13.85."

    The above from the 1964 catalogue of West Germany's main recreational underwater swimming equipment supplier Barakuda, which imported many products from other European countries. Now compare the illustration with the 1959 and 1963 versions of the model and decide which of the two the 1964 version most closely resembles, focusing on the snorkel barrels.

    Yes, we seem to be alternating between straight and curved barrels when it comes to the development of the San Remo. Here it is in Barakuda's 1967 catalogue:
    upload_2020-10-21_10-27-8.jpeg
    German: "SAN REMO (ital.), blau. Doppelschnorchelmaske, runde Sichtscheibe aus Kunststoff, mit Sprengrahmen, breites, verstellbares Nackenband. Best.-Nr. 187. DM 15.85."
    Rough translation: "SAN REMO (Italian), blue. Double snorkel mask, round plastic lens, with snap-on rim, wide, adjustable headstrap. Order No. 164. DM 15.85."

    No change other than a price rise. In 1969, however, back at Mares headquarters in Italy, we have the following:
    upload_2020-10-21_10-30-51.jpeg
    Italian: "Articolo 1103 San Remo. Doppio respiratore, grande campo visivo per l’osservazione in superficie. Vetro rotondo. A richiesta, viene anche fornita con cerchietto in moplen e lente quadrangolare."
    English: "Item 1103 San Remo. Double snorkel, wide vision for observation on the surface. Round glass. May also be supplied upon request with moplen rim and quadrangular lens."
    French: "Article 1103 San Remo. Muni de deux respirateurs. Large champ de vision pour l’observation en surface. Glace ronde. Sur demande, en Moplen et glace quadrangulaire."

    Note how the snorkel barrels are standing to attention again and that the snorkel-mask is now reserved for use in surface observation. The San Remo appears to have ceased production before the 1970s.

    And here is the San Remo again in a Hungarian historical diving equipment collection:
    upload_2020-10-21_10-41-12.png

    The Hungarian caption reads "Két légzőcsövek felszerelt „búvárszemüveg”" and translates to "Two snorkels fitted with 'diving goggles'" Another example of a snorkel-mask being described as a mask equipped snorkel.

    We'll leave it there for today. At the weekend we'll move onto the Mares Sestri snorkel-mask. Stay safe and well in the meantime.
     

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