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Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century Italy: Other manufacturers

Discussion in 'History of Diving Gear' started by David Wilson, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    My fifth source is the 1958 edition of the Rex-Hevea catalogue:
    Italian: "CAPRI SALVAS: grande maschera in gomma azzurra ed in unica misura adatta per adulti; monta uno snorkel con valvole Gamma già descritto a pag. 48".
    English: "Large blue mask in a single adult size; carries the Gamma snorkel described on page 48".

    And here is what the 1958 Rex-Hevea tells us about the Gamma valve: "It is so constructed that in any position assumed by the frogman while underwater the tube remains closed".

    My sixth source is the 1963 edition of Rick & Barbara Carrier's Dive: The Complete Book of Skin Diving, which has the same illustration below as the 1955 edition:
    The caption on page 96 is also the same: "Full face mask with or without snorkel attached".

    Sources No. 7 and 8 are more recent publications. Seven is the Salvas Capri entry in the 1950s mask article by Fabio Vitale:
    Italian: "Maschera Capri Salvas. Carcassa grande in gomma azzurra e misura unica. Monta uno snorkel con valvole Gamma.
    Rough translation: "Salvas Capri Mask. Large light-blue rubber body. One size. Single snorkel attached with Gamma valve".

    The eighth and final source is the Salvas Capri on Luigi Fabbri's Blu Time History website:
    The image there is accompanied by tabulated information about the snorkel-mask. If you are interested, pay a visit to SALVAS Capri | BluTimeScubaHistory, which is in English.

    And there I shall stop for the day. I hope what I have contributed is of interest and I shall be back some time midweek to take a look at another Salvas snorkel-mask, perhaps the Nettuno. Stay safe and keep well until then.
    jale and Sam Miller III like this.
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    Thank you, Sam and Jale, for the likes.

    Today I am going to review another snorkel-mask, the Salvas Nettuno. As I am sure everbody knows by now, "Nettuno" is Italian for "Neptune", the god of freshwater and the sea in Roman mythology. Here is the Nettuno in the Rex-Hevea catalogue of 1954:
    Italian: "NETTUNO «R»: carcassa azzurra a vetro ovale o rotondo con ghiera: misura unica media. (MASOVA) vetro ovale e Lit 2.150. (MASOTO) vetro rotondo Lit. 2.150."
    English: "A blue frame with an oval or round glass with blocking ring; one medium size only."
    My translation: "NETTUNO 'R': light blue body with an oval or round lens with retaining band: medium size only. (MASOVA) oval faceplate and 2,150 lire. (MASOTO) round faceplate and 2,150 lire."

    So a mask with a single snorkel topped with a float valve. Choice of a round or oval faceplate.

    Ley Kenyon's 1957 book Collins Pocket Guide to the Undersea World contains the following comment from its author: "[SALVAS] NETTUNO. Italian. A comfortable mask with oval window, incorporating a single schnorkel on the left side, and a rubber valve operated by a floatable ball, which works efficiently (…) Neither the [SALVAS] Capri or Nettuno are (sic), as far as I know, obtainable in Britain."

    The Rex-Hevea catalogue of 1958 also included the Nettuno:
    Italian: "NETTUNO R SALVAS: deriva dall’omonimo occhiale e può avere il cristallo rotondo od ovale; è costruita in gomma azzurra nelle misure JUNIOR, per ragazzi, e SENIOR, per adulti".
    English: "Derived from single glass goggle of the same name with round or oval glass and in blue rubber; JUNIOR size for children and SENIOR for adults".
    My translation: "NETTUNO R SALVAS: derivative of the goggles of the same name, may have a round or oval lens; light blue rubber in JUNIOR sizes, for children, and SENIOR, for adults".
    jale and Sam Miller III like this.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    So much for the appearance of the Salvas Nettuno in 1950s books and catalogues. This model stayed in production until 1966 at least. Here it is in Mondo Sommerso in 1965:
    Italian: "NETTUNO - maschera in gomma - ghiera in nailon - grande campo visivo con e senza respiratore."
    Rough translation: "NETTUNO - rubber mask - nylon band - large field of vision with and without snorkel."

    And again in 1966 in a German-language catalogue:
    German: "«Nettuno» - Maske. art. 251 mit Schnorchel. art. 251-B mit Schorchel und Plastikgürtel. art. 261. mit Schnorchel Jungengrösse. art 252. ohne Schnorchel. art. 252-B ohne Schnorchel und Plastikgürtel. art.262. ohne Schnorchel in blau mit grosser Sichtweite."
    Rough translation: "'Nettuno' mask. art. 251 with snorkel. art. 251-B with snorkel and plastic strap. art. 261. with snorkel boy's size. art 252. without snorkel. art. 252-B without snorkel and plastic strap. art.262. without snorkel in blue with great visibility."

    Fabio Vitale included an entry for the Salvas Nettuno in his roundup of 1950s dive masks:
    Italian: "Maschera Nettuno Salvas. Carcassa in gomma azzurra con vetro che può essere ovale o rotondo. Misure Junior e Senior."
    Rough translation: "Salvas Nettuno Mask. Light-blue rubber body. Faceplate may be oval or round. Junior and Senior sizes."

    That's plenty for today. At the weekend we shall take a look at a third Salvas snorkel-mask, the Danubio. In case anybody is wondering, my opinion is that the "R" in "Nettuno R" is likely to stand for "rotondo", Italian for "round" and a reference to the shape of the faceplate, which also came in oval. Stay safe and keep well.
    jale and Sam Miller III like this.
  4. Angelo Farina

    Angelo Farina Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Parma, ITALY
    Here in Italy we have lobsters which are already orange when alive..
    When I first dived at Maldives, in 1996, it was very strange for me seeing those tropical lobsters which are almost blue when alive.
    They turn red only after cooking...
    Here you see a live Italian lobster (Palinurus Elephas Fabricius), called "aragosta", which is also the name of the orange-brown colour. This kind of lobster is also much more tasty than the tropical ones...
    Here instead a tropical lobster (Palinurus Ornatus), with a greenish-blue colour (when alive):
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    Thanks, Sam and Jale, for the likes, and I'm grateful, Angelo, for the clarification of "aragosta" both as a colour and as the Italian word for "lobster", which come in so many forms and hues in the living world.

    Today's contribution will be shorter than usual, as I have just one more Salvas snorkel-mask to review and I want to leave the Salvas range of fins for another time.
    So on to the Salvas Danubio snorkel-mask. "Danubio" is Italian for "Danube" (course mapped above), which is the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia.
    The image above shows the Danube running through the Hungarian capital Budapest. Most of us will have heard of, and listened to, the "Blue Danube Waltz" that Johann Strauss titled in German "An der schönen blauen Donau" (By the beautiful blue Danube". As you can see from the picture above, the Danube isn't, and has never been "blue", but a little poetic licence was welcome both in the dying decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as it is now in these troubled times. On several occasions in the past I have visited the Austrian capital Vienna, where the Danube also runs. While there, the balmy summer weather, the taste of "death by chocolate" Sachertorte (below) and the distant strains of Strauss waltzes from the window of a music school all combined to convince my imagination at least that the nearby Danube could adopt an azure hue as I daydreamed.

    But I digress. Here is the Salvas Danubio in a German-language 1966 Salvas catalogue:
    German: "«danubio» - Maske mit grosser Sichtweite - besonders geeignet für das Beobachten des Seegrundes."
    English: "'Danubio' mask with great visibility - particularly suitable for observing the sea-bed."

    Note the chinpiece, confirming that the Danubio is indeed a full-face snorkel-mask. Note too the single breathing tube emerging from the top of the mask and ending in a ball-in-the-cage valve. Italian snorkel-masks generally came with Gamma-style float valves and the Danubio is the exception to the rule.

    Finally, I can find no references to this snorkel-mask earlier than 1965. This would be around the time Salvas merged with the Shark company and hence the Danubio is a newcomer marking the union between the two firms. The word "Shark" is visible on the side of the snorkel-mask, but the merged companies were known as "Salvas-Shark" for a while and the strap in the image may be concealing the word "Salvas". As people always say, further research is necessary, but without any fresh sources of information emerging the question must remain open.

    And there I shall stop for today. Sorry if I appear to be giving short measure, but the next topic of Salvas Delfino and Squalo fins requires a contribution all of its own some time midweek. Until then, stay safe and keep well. "Freedom Day" Covid-wise is tomorrow here in the UK, but we're already off to a bad start with our Health Secretary testing positive for the virus this weekend and having to isolate following a meeting with our Prime Minister! It's not over till it's over...:eek:
    Sam Miller III and Luis H like this.
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    Thanks, Sam and Luis, for the likes.

    Today we proceed to the Salvas range of fins, beginning with the Delfino and the Squalo. "Delfino" and "Squalo" are Italian for "Dolphin" and "Shark" respectively. Here are the fins in the 1954 edition of the Rex-Hevea catalogue:
    So what we have here are three different models. The "Squalo" (top right) is billed as the fin used by champion freediver Raimondo Bucher. It is a symmetrical fin with a size-adjustable strap and an extended footplate to protect the heels from stony Mediterranean beaches. It was non-floating and came in just one size: 39-44. By way of contrast, the Delfino had asymmetrical blades and was available in three - children, men and extra-large - sizes. The first two sizes of the Delfino could also be obtained with special air cavities inside designed to make the fin buoyant. The air chambers are illustrated with a cross-section view in the catalogue entry above.

    And here are the Delfino and the Squalo in the 1958 issue of Rex-Hevea:
    We learn here that the Salvas Delfino was the first fin in Italy to have an adjustable strap and a heel-protecting extended footplate and that the longer edge of the blade on these asymmetrical fins was always worn on the outside of the foot.

    The Salvas Delfino had an entry in Fabio Vitale's roundup of 1950s masks:
    Italian: "DELFINO SALVAS. Sono le prime pinne italiane costruite con cinghialo regolabile ed a tallone protetto: la pala diritta è del tipo a prolungamento laterale. Sono costruite in gomma azzurra sia nel tipo pesante che in quello galleggiante. La galleggiabilità è dovuta a due camere d’aria ricavate nelle costolature laterali. Numeri dal 35 al 48."
    Rough translation: "SALVAS DELFINO. First Italian fin made with adjustable strap and heel protection: straight-type blade extended on one side. Made of both heavy-duty and floating light-blue rubber. Buoyancy due to two air chambers carved into side ribs. Sizes 35-48."
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    The Salvas Delfino was exported to the USA during the 1950s:
    And here are some images of actual Salvas Squalo fins:

    So much for the Salvas Delfino and Squalo fins. At the weekend I shall move on to the Salvas Olimpic fins, which also made their début in the 1950s. In tthe meantime, keep safe and stay well.
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    Thanks, Sam for the "like".

    And now for the Salvas Olimpic fin. I am assuming that "Olimpic" is a deliberate misspelling of "Olympic", a highly topical adjective at the moment, in the same way as some people purposely misspell "night club" as "nite club".

    Here is the Salvas Olimpic entry in Fabio Vitale's roundup of 1950s fins:
    Italian: "OLIMPIC SALVAS. A scarpetta con pala inclinata e paripunta ma con leggero prolungamento centrale. Costruita in gomma azzurra è rinforzata sul fondo della scarpetta in modo da renderla protettiva e costituire un tutt’uno con la pala. La mescola diventa progressivamente più dura aumentando nelle calzte maggiori che vanno dal 35 al 46."
    Rough translation: "SALVAS OLIMPIC. A shoe with angled blade, twin-tipped but with centre slightly extended. Made of light blue rubber and reinforced on bottom of shoe for protection and integration with blade. The greater the size in the range 35 to 46, the harder the blend.

    And here is the same model in the Rex-Hevea catalogue of 1958:
    As you can see, the wording of these two sources is similar. What we have here is a full-foot fin with a closed toe. A number of mid-1950s Italian fins came with closed toes and straight blades, presumably to avoid infringing Luigi Ferraro's Cressi patent for Rondine fins with their toe openings and offset blades. The emphasis in the design of the Salvas Olimpic is on overall weight and blade reinforcement, suggesting their greater suitability for underwater hunters than surface swimmers. An interesting feature is the gradual stiffening of the rubber blend with increased sizing presumably to harness the greater strength of adults with feet to match their physique.

    Here is the Olimpic in 1961:
    Italian: "pinne OLIMPIC normali e gallegianti morbide leggere aderenti non affaticano il piede anche dopo lunghe nuotate."
    Rough translation: "OLIMPIC fins, normal and floating models, soft, light, snug fitting, will not cause foot fatigue even after long swims."

    So by the start of the 1960s, the Olimpic was available in two versions, namely the non-floating original design and a new lightweight floating model for non-cramping endurance swimming. Note the product name "OLIMPIC" on the underside of the blade.
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Contributor

    So we left the Salvas Olimpic resembling the above in 1961. A year later, in 1962, the Salvas Olimpic was given a makeover:
    Italian: "OLIMPIC, la pinna che rende piacevole il nuoto."
    Rough translation: "OLIMPIC, the fin that makes swimming enjoyable."

    Like most closed-heel Italian fins starting in the 1950s with closed toes, the Olimpic became open-toed in the 1960s to increase wearing comfort and to release extraneous matter such as sand.

    Here are the fins again in 1965:
    The caption says that the Olimpic is a rubber fin with a full foot pocket available in normal and floating models.

    And here is the fin in that 1966 German-language Salvas catalogue:
    The German tells us that these Olimpic fins float. They are black and blue rubber fins with a high degree of elasticitym available in sizes 2/4, 5/7, 7/8 and 11/13. Surprising to see the absence of European shoe sizes ina catalogye intended for German buyers.

    And finally, we have some auction pictures of the Salvas Olimpic:
    That's enough for today. I shall return midweek to review the Salvas Bucher fin, named after champion Italian underwater swimmer Raimondo Bucher. Keep safe and stay well in the meantime.

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