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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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    The SM 67 mask remained in production at least until the mid-1970s. Here it is in 1974:
    pirelli-ulixes-catalogo-1974-2-jpg-634480-jpg.635330.jpg
    pirelli-ulixes-catalogo-1974-3-jpg-634481-jpg.635331.jpg
    Italian: "SM. 1) Gomma nera di speciale morbidezza ed elasticita. Ventosa interna per una completa tenuta. Bloccaggio a pressione del cinghiolo. Sede nasale atta ad una facile e immediata compensazione. Ghiera in acciaio inossidabile. Cristallo temperato. Ampio e libero campo visivo. Ridotto volume interno. Imballo e spedizione: scatole da 20 pezzi."
    Rough translation: "SM. 1) Black rubber of special softness and elasticity. Inner suction pad for a complete seal. Strap pressure lock. Nose recess suitable for easy and immediate compensation. Stainless steel band. Tempered glass. Wide and free field of vision. Reduced internal volume. Packaging and shipping: boxes of 20 pieces."

    Here's another view from the 1970s:
    PIRELLI%20ULIXES%20Catalogo%201975%20-%2010.jpg

    Finally, some auction pictures of a Pirelli SM mask:
    upload_2021-1-13_10-52-0.jpeg
    upload_2021-1-13_10-52-21.jpeg
    upload_2021-1-13_10-52-40.jpeg

    So much for the SM mask. At the weekend, I'll review some or all of the remaining Pirelli masks, which were relative 1970s latecomers. In the meantime, stay safe and well.
     
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thanks to all for the likes!

    We are approaching the final diving masks in the Pirelli range. Having covered the SM model last time, let us start with the SMV and SMC masks from 1974:
    pirelli-ulixes-catalogo-1974-2-jpg-634480-jpg-635330-jpg.636058.jpg
    pirelli-ulixes-catalogo-1974-3-jpg-634481-jpg-635331-jpg.636059.jpg
    SMV is No. 2 in the middle column of the top row.
    Italian: "SMV. 2) Gomma nera di speciale morbidezza ed elasticità. Ventosa interna per una completa tenuta. Bloccaggio a pressione del cinghiolo. Sede nasale atta ad una facile e immediata compensazione. Valvola di spurgo applicabile. Ghiera in acciaio inossidabile. Cristallo temperato. Ampio e libero campo visivo. Ridottissimo volume interno. Imballo di spedizione: scatole da 20 pezzi."
    Rough translation: "SMV. 2) Black rubber of special softness and elasticity. Inner suction pad for a complete seal. Strap pressure lock. Nose recess suitable for easy immediate compensation. Applicable purge valve. Stainless steel band. Tempered glass. Wide, free field of vision. Very low internal volume. Shipping packaging: boxes of 20 pieces.

    SMC is No. 3 in the right column of the top row.
    Italian: "SMC. 3) Gomma nera di particolare morbidezza ed elasticità. Sede nasale interna per una facile e immediata compensazione. Ghiera in acciaio inox con bloccaggio a pressione di sicurezza. Cristallo temperato. Ridotto volume interno, ampio e libero campo visivo. Imballo di spedizione: scatole da 20 pezzi."
    Rough translation: "SMC. 3) Black rubber of particular softness and elasticity. Internal nose recess for easy immediate compensation. Stainless steel band with safety pressure lock. Tempered glass. Reduced internal volume; wide, free field of vision. Shipping packaging: boxes of 20 pieces."

    So the SMV differs from the SMC in having an external nosepiece for ear-clearing, while the latter features compensator bosses instead on the inside. Note the absence of a top screw in keeping with 1970s trends.
     
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Three more Pirelli masks to go: the Apnea, Aquarius and Cormoran. All of them appear in this mid-1970s catalogue page:
    pirelli-20ulixes-20catalogo-201975-20-2010-jpg.636060.jpg
    The Apnea and the Aquarius are in the top row, middle and right columns respectively. The caption reads: "Le maschere della nuova generazione Ulixes Diving Equipments. Nate da un felice connubio tra l’occhiale e la classica maschera a grande campo visivo, presentano un volume interno ridottissimo, pur mantenendo inalterata l'ampiezza del campo ottico. Realizzate con mescole particolari e selezionate, si adattano a qualunque fisionomia facciale, offrendo una tenuta di inimitabile delicatezza." (Ulixes Diving Equipment new-generation masks. Born from a happy marriage between goggles and classic masks with a wide field of vision, they have a very low internal volume while maintaining the width of the optical field unchanged. Made with special and selected compounds, they adapt to any facial physiognomy, offering a seal of inimitable delicacy.)

    The Cormoran mask is illustrated and captioned separately, middle column, bottom row: "Cormoran e Cormoran Junior: Di gomma in colore blu e ghiera nera." (Cormoran and Cormoran Junior: Made of blue rubber with a black band.) So this design comes in senior and junior sizes with a blue rubber body and a black plastic surround for the lens. In all these offerings, Pirelli demonstrates its commitment to compensation in general and Pinocchio-style external nosepieces in particular.

    So there we have today's mask review. Midweek we shall move on to Pirelli snorkels. There were realtively few Pirelli breathing tubes in the early days, the firm plumping instead for a range of masks with built-in snorkels, which we shall examine in future postings. Stay well and stay safe in the meantime.
     
  4. WeRtheOcean

    WeRtheOcean Barracuda

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    I put these together because the narwhal is, in a sense, also a mythological creature -- not Greek myth this time, but broader European myth. The unicorn legend seems to have been based on narwhal tusk trade items: The unicorn and the narwhal: a tale of the tooth - PubMed
     
    David Wilson likes this.
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thanks for the input about the narwhal, WeRtheOcean, and thanks to everyone for the likes.

    So Pirelli snorkels. I opined in my last posting that Pirelli manufactured many fewer freestanding breathing tubes than they did masks with built-in snorkels over their decades of diving equipment production. Here is the single model offered in 1954:
    upload_2021-1-20_10-7-33.jpeg
    Italian: "(RESPI[RATORE]): tipo «Pirelli», tubo in tutta plastica trasparente e di grande sezione Lit. 1.000."
    Rough translation: "(BREATHING TUBE): "Pirelli", transparent all-plastic large-bore tube. 1,000 lire."

    What was distinctive about this model was that it had a see-through plastic barrel with a larger than usual inner diameter at a time when many snorkels came with narrow-diameter aluminium alloy tubes. Both features are more characteristic of later breathing tubes.

    By 1958, the Pirelli snorkel range had doubled from one to two:
    upload_2021-1-20_10-18-34.jpeg
    Here is the product description of the successor to the 1954 model, the "Pirelli Plastica":
    Italian: "PIRELLI PLASTICA: su una presa d'aria in plastica e colore alluminio, a grande sezione ed appositamente curvata, è applicato un morbido boccaglio in gomma. Utile per chi abbisogna di molta aria."
    Official translation: "To a large section, aluminium colored plastic intake tube, specially curved, is attached a soft rubber mouthpiece. Adapted to those requiring a great deal of air."
    My rough translation: "PIRELLI PLASTIC: attached to a specially curved plastic, aluminium-coloured, large-bore air-intake is a soft rubber mouthpiece. Useful for those who need plenty of air."

    As a retired linguist, I have added my own rendering because I don't believe the official caption was the commercial translator's finest hour. Content-wise, what matters is the descriptor "aluminium-coloured", announcing Pirelli's replacement of the see-through barrel with an opaque version painted to resemble a light metal alloy. Not Pirelli's finest hour either.

    Pirelli's second 1958 offering was an all-rubber breathing tube:
    Italian: "PIRELLI TUTTA GOMMA: su un tubo di gomma appositamente curvato si innesta uno speciale boccaglio che puo essere occluso, stringendolo fra i denti, al momento dell'immersione, in modo che l'acqua non entri in bocca.
    Official translation: "To a specially curved rubber tube is affixed a special mouthpiece which can be closed by tightening the grip at the moment of immersion, thus preventing the water from reaching the mouth."
    My rough translation: "PIRELLI ALL-RUBBER: inserted on a specially curved rubber tube is a special mouthpiece that can be sealed off by squeezing it between the teeth so water does not enter the mouth when submerged.

    The idea of an all-rubber snorkel was also a classic design, adopted by French manufacturer Beuchat in his Tarzan 205 breathing tube during the 1950s:
    20121491-jpg.514697.jpg
    Beuchat's all-rubber design survived to the present day as the "Tubair", whose flexibility is illustrated here:
    beuchat_snorkels_tubair_1-900x900-jpg.514696.jpg
    The all-rubber form enabled the snorkel to be folded up and more easily extricated in use from vegetation and other obstacles underwater.
     
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    In 1959, just one Pirelli snorkel:
    PIRELLI-Catalogo-1959---53.jpg
    No product description this time, simply an image illustrating what appears to be a snorkel with a plastic barrel and rubber mouthpiece.

    1960
    PIRELLI-Catalogo-1960---32.jpg
    Gone is the design with a standard mouthpiece attached to a J-shaped barrel with a "U"-bend at the bottom In its place, another J-shaped snorkel design with a rubber elbow combining mouthpiece and "U"-bend in one piece attached to a straight barrel. This design came in two versions, one with an open top, the other topped with a float valve to shut off the air intake automatically and prevent water ingress when the user is submerged. The former is priced at 300 lire, the latter at half as much more.

    1961
    PIRELLI-Catalogo-1961---21.jpg
    PIRELLI-Catalogo-1961---20.jpg
    No change apart from a price rise for both models.

    1963
    PIRELLI-Catalogo-1963---21.jpg
    Another price hike, otherwise no change.

    We'll leave Pirelli snorkels there for today, picking up the thread again midweek. In the meantime, stay well, stay safe.
     
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thanks for the likes, guys!

    Now for the remainder of the Pirelli snorkels, beginning with the company's 1965 offerings:
    PIRELLI%201965%20-%2031.jpg
    Italian: "Respiratori. Tubo di plastica, boccaglio di gomma. L. 420. Come il precedente, con valvola. L. 650. Muniti di anellini per il fissaggio al cinturino dell'icchiale. L. 320."
    Rough translation: "Snorkels. Plastic tube, rubber mouthpiece. L. 420. As before, with valve. L. 650. Fitted with rings for attachment to goggles strap. L. 320."

    So the same 1963 J-shaped snorkel design with a rubber elbow combining mouthpiece and "U"-bend in one piece attached to a straight barrel. Two versions, one with an open top, the other topped with a float valve to shut off the air intake automatically and prevent water ingress when the user is submerged. The former is priced at 420 lire, the latter at more than half as much more.

    1966
    PIRELLI-1966%20-%2037.jpg
    No change there in design or price.

    1967
    PIRELLI-Catalogo-1967---43.jpg
    Ditto, with a clearer view of the snorkel float valve.
     
  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Pirelli also introduced its SM67 range in 1967, which included a new snorkel model:
    upload_2021-1-24_9-46-26.jpeg
    Italian: "Respiratore. Boccaglio di gomma igienica, tubo flessibile di gomma nera speciale, tale da evitare le ripercussioni sulla bocca di eventuali urti contro fondali o scogliere. L. 500."
    Rough translation: "Snorkel. Hygienic rubber mouthpiece, flexible black rubber tube, such as to avoid the repercussions on the mouth of any impacts against sea beds or reefs."

    So a Pirelli all-rubber breathing tube returns to the market place after one last appeared in 1954. This one is L-shaped with an offset mouthpiece. The design is reminiscent of a La Spirotechnique breathing tube launched earlier in France:
    spiro_1965-jpg.511740.jpg
    The French caption tells us that this snorkel was created in 1963 and was a commercial success. This was an L-shaped design, considered an improvement on the traditional J-shape because there was less space for water to accumulate next to the mouthpiece. The side-mounted mouthpiece was described as a "clarinette" mouthpiece. Note the lanyard attached to the ring to be inserted between the tube and the mouthpiece. The lanyard was worn around the neck and was intended to provide extra security against snorkel loss.

    The 1968 Pirelli catalogue appears to have only featured the earlier 1961-1967 Pirelli snorkel designs:
    Pirelli_1968_9.jpg
    Italian: "Respiratori. Tubo di plastica, boccaglio di gomma. Lire 420. Come il precedente, con valvola. L. 650. Muniti di anellini per il fissaggio al cinturino dell'icchiale. Lire 320."
    Rough translation: "Snorkels. Plastic tube, rubber mouthpiece. 420 lire. As before, with valve. 650 lire. Fitted with rings for attachment to goggles strap. 320 lire."

    No design or price change since 1967. This 1969 German-language Pirelli catalogue just has the SM67 snorkel:
    Pirelli_1969_9.jpg
    German: "SCHNORCHEL. Schwarz, mit weissem Mundstück (Hygienequalität), flexible Ausführung."
    English: "SNORKEL. Black, with white mouthpiece (hygiene quality), flexible finish."

    Note how the mouthpiece, like the one on the La Spirotechnique snorkel, comes with a lanyard threaded through an eyelet in the mouthpiece and intended to be worn around the neck and to provide extra security against snorkel loss.
     
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    During the 1970s, the Pirelli snorkel range grew.

    1974
    PIRELLI-Ulixes-Catalogo-1974---3.jpg
    Italian: "Respiratori. 1) Tubo di plastica azzurro con boccaglio di gomma bianca igienica. 2) Come il precedente munito però di valvola di chiusura. SM professional. 3) Boccaglio di gomma bianca igienica, tubo flessibile di gomma nera speciale, tale da evitare le ripercussioni sulla bocca di eventuali urti contro fondali o scogliere. Corredato di cordoncino di fermo. Con terminale luminescente. SM Aquarius. 4) Boccaglio di gomma igienica. Tubo ad ampia sezione, sagomato. Terminale luminescente."
    Rough translation: "Snorkels. 1) Blue plastic tube with hygienic white rubber mouthpiece. 2) As before, but fitted with a shut-off valve. SM professional. 3) White hygienic rubber mouthpiece, special black rubber flexible barrel to avoid the repercussions on the mouth of any impacts against seabeds or reefs. Fitted with a lanyard. With fluorescent top. SM Aquarius. 4) Hygienic rubber mouthpiece. Large-bore tube, contoured. Fluorescent top.

    Interestingly enough, the fluorescent tops on the SM snorkel range predated the German Standards Institute Standard DIN7878 of February 1980, where these alerts to other water users were mandated for manufacturers wishing to accredit the otherwise compliant breathing tubes they made.

    1975
    PIRELLI%20ULIXES%20Catalogo%201975%20-%2011.jpg
    Italian: "Cod. 66480050. Tubo corrugato, boccaglio in gomma, terminale luminescente. Cod. 66480068. SM Professional. In tutta gomma, terminale luminescente. Cod. 66480069. Aquarius A e N. Tubo ad ampia sezione, sagomato. Boccaglio di gomma igienica. Terminale luminescente. In versione «arancio» «nero». Cod. 66480070. Snorkel modellabile, brev. 3.844.281. Il boccaglio modellabile Farallon é assolutamente unico. E sufficiente scaldare gli inserti esclusivi brevettati, in acqua bollente, e quindi stringerli fra i denti, per ottenere l’impronta della propria presa. Il risultato è una presa migliore, un rapporto stretto, personalissimo con l’oggetto, e minor tensione della mascella. Lo spazioso foro garantisce una agevole respirazione. Inoltre una fascia luminescente conferisce una elevata visibilita in superficie. Un supporto interno girevole in PVC assicura la regolazione sull’angolo giusto."
    Rough translation: "Code 66480050. Corrugated tube, rubber mouthpiece, luminescent terminal. Code 66480068. SM Professional. All rubber, fluorescent top. Code 66480069. Aquarius A and N. Large-bore tube, contoured. Hygienic rubber mouthpiece. Fluorescent top. In "orange / black" version. Code 66480070. Mouldable snorkel, patent 3,844,281. The Farallon mouldable mouthpiece is absolutely unique. It is sufficient to heat the exclusive patented lugs in boiling water and then squeeze them between your teeth to get the impression of your bite. The result is a better bite, a close, highly personal relationship with the object, and less jaw tension. The spacious orifice ensures ease of breathing. Furthermore, a fluorescent band provides high visibility on the surface. An internal pivoting PVC support ensures adjustment to the right angle."

    Note that only the SM Professional snorkel remains from Pirelli's previous breathing tube offerings. There is now a flexible-hose model, permitting the snorkel to drop out of the way when not in use and said to be favoured for this reason by scuba divers. The design again resembles another La Spirotechnique model:
    spiroflex_1967-jpg-481673-jpg.511741.jpg
    Then there are the "Aquarius A and N" snorkels, the "A" and the "N" standing for the Italian words for "orange" and "black" and adopting the then new "contoured" shape.

    Finally, Pirelli appears to have imported the "Farallon" snorkel from the USA, here in the 1975 Farallon cataogue, courtesy of Bryan Pennington's generous online catalogue collection accessible from Vintage Double Hose - Index page:
    upload_2021-1-24_11-19-15.jpeg

    And there we finish the final session for Pirelli snorkels. Some time midweek we shall review Pirelli's range of masks with built-in snorkels. In the coming days, stay well and safe.
     
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    I'm grateful for the "likes", guys. And now we move on to Pirelli masks with built-in snorkels.
    800px-Gaston_Bussiere_%E2%80%94_The_Nereides.jpg
    We are going to jump in at the deep end with what is perhaps Pirelli's most famous snorkel-mask, the Nereide. "Nereide" is Italian for "Nereid". In Greek mythology, the Nereids (Greek: Νηρηΐδες Nereides, singular Νηρηΐς Nereis) are sea nymphs (female spirits of sea waters), the 50 daughters of Nereus and Doris, sisters to their brother Nerites. They are the subject of Gaston Bussière's 1927 painting "The Nereids" above. They often accompany Poseidon, the god of the sea, and can be friendly and helpful to sailors (such as the Argonauts in their search for the Golden Fleece). For more information, access their Wikipedia article at Nereid - Wikipedia.

    Having researched this mask thoroughly, I have managed to create a timeline of online and printed sources documenting the artefact.

    1. (1940?) The photograph Spear Fishing Snorkelers in the Water. Two snorkelers carry their spear guns as they float on their backs in a shallow bay on Jamaica. (Photo by © Bradley Smith/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) posted at Two snorkelers carry their spear guns as they float on their backs in... News Photo - Getty Images:
    norkelers-carry-their-spear-guns-as-they-float-on-their-backs-in-picture-id586026230?s=2048x2048.jpg
    According to the Getty Images page, the above is a Corbis Historical Collection photograph created on 1 January 1940. Personally, I remain somewhat sceptical about this early date.

    2. (1949) Nerino Bedini's US patent for a submarine mask for atmospheric and automatic breathing originally filed on 12 September 1947
    You can read US patent 2,488,261 for yourself at US2488261A - Submarine mask for atmospheric and autonomous breathing - Google Patents. According to The Pirelli patents: a tale of invention and creativity, "Nerino Bedini patented a “submarine mask for atmospheric and autonomous breathing” in 1947. It was good-looking, comfortable and functional and it appeared in Ian Fleming’s Octopussy of the 007 series. 'You know what?' said Major Dexter Smythe to the octopus. 'You’re going to have a real treat today if I can manage it.' He had spoken aloud, and his breath had steamed up the glass of his Pirelli mask. He put his feet down to the sand beside the coral boulder and stood up. The water reached to his armpits. He took off the mask and spat into it, rubbed the spit round the glass, rinsed it clean, and pulled the rubber band of the mask back over his head. He bent down again.”
    US2488261-0.png
    So there we have a James Bond connection for the Nereide snorkel-mask.:) And the inventor's first name is "Nerino", which may have prompted the eventual product name "Nereide". Strictly speaking, the patent shows the design of what became a different Pirelli snorkel-mask, the "Oceanina", but the Nereide is still clearly a derivative of this design.

    3. (1950) US patent for a submarine mask originally filed by Nerino Bedini and others on 27 August 1947
    US2534568-drawings-page-1.png
    The full US patent 2,534,568 of 19 December 1950 can be accessed at US2534568A - Submarine mask - Google Patents.
     

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