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Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century Britain: Typhoon (E. T. Skinner)

Discussion in 'History of Diving Gear' started by David Wilson, Apr 2, 2018.

  1. iamrushman

    iamrushman Great White

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
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    thanks for sharing such interesting information and photographs...
     
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  2. JMBL

    JMBL Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
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    Thanks for sharing.
     
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  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thank you so much for the warm feedback.

    Typhoon_56_6.png
    As a postscript to my last message about Typhoon Speedmaster fins (1956 Typhoon catalogue entry above), here are some Kennelly Archive photos of a young lady equipped with the same full-foot, open-toed, fluted-blade fins when participating in spearfishing competitions on Valentia Island, one of Ireland's westernmost points, during the early 1960s:

    TOK004.jpg
    Caption: 4th August 1963; A photo taken at the International Spear Fishing Competiton which took place in Valentia.
    Location: The Kennelly Archive - International Spear Fishing Competiton - TOK004

    TOK005.jpg
    Caption: 4th August 1963; A photo taken at the International Spear Fishing Competiton which took place in Valentia.
    Location: The Kennelly Archive - International Spear Fishing Competiton - TOK005

    LQE004.jpg
    Caption: 2nd August 1964; A photo of deep sea divers in Knightstown, Valentia for a spearfishing competition.
    Location: The Kennelly Archive - A Spearfishing Competition in Valentia - LQE004

    It appears that international spearfishing competitions were not entirely a male preserve even half a century ago! :)
     
    iamrushman likes this.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Back to more early Typhoon fins. The Surfmaster, Clubmaster and Speedmaster we have reviewed so far all incorporated key features from Typhoon's "fluted swimfin" British Patent 746,764 of 1954 (drawings below):
    flutedbladedrawing-jpg.453529.jpg
    The non-adjustable open-heel Surfmaster, Typhoon's most popular fin of the 1950s, was almost indistinguishable from the patent prototype above.

    The 1956 edition of "Skinner's handbook for skin divers" offered two further models: the Juniormaster and the Divemaster. Both were described in this or a later catalogue as having an envelope-moulded shape and a jet stream blade. We'll begin with the Juniormaster, which features in the following Typhoon advertisement from 1954; note how "Juniormaster" was sometimes written as two words::
    1954_ad-jpg.453247.jpg

    Juniormaster (or Junior Master) fins
    Juniormaster_1.png

    1956 Typhoon catalogue entry:
    Juniormaster_4b.png

    1966 Typhoon catalogue entry:
    Juniormaster_4c.png

    Note how these fins have different stock numbers in the later catalogue, each tied to a particular size range. As the name suggests, the Juniormaster was made in juvenile foot sizes to supply children and young people eager to explore the underwater world. This model also appeared in an illustration within an article entitled "Teach yourself to swim underwater" (accessible at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1p93gjCmY7_J6z30ba-xOU1Cn1p4qfjIw) in the seventh "Eagle Annual for Boys" brought out by the publishers of the "Eagle" comic paper for boys in 1957:
    img345.jpg

    The Juniormaster's "envelope moulded shape" refers to one of the advantages of this model. After donning the fins, "toes cannot reach the end of the fins and rub, which allows for more growth before changing fins" (1976 Typhoon catalogue). These fins were also available in three children's fittings, which meant, as the image caption remarks, that "they should fit really well."

    The Juniormaster's "jet stream blade" apparently refers to the twin projecting and radiating ribs stiffening the blade and channelling water flow.

    The Juniormaster's longevity in production is also worthy of note. The fin was on sale in 1954 or earlier as the ad above shows and as late as 1976 as the catalogue entry shows below:
    Juniormaster_6.png The Juniormaster was only discontinued in the late 1970s because of a change in children's fashion. The March 1976 issue of "Sports Trader" magazine explains:

    "Serious looking" fins for children"
    Typhoon have launched a range of Junior fins to complement their successful new adult fins. The new junior fins are similar in appearance to the senior fins with a foot pocket in black. This is to meet the demand of children who nowadays prefer to use more serious looking products. The fins are moulded in two parts with a soft stretchy rubber for the heel and a stiffer rubber for the blade. They are non-floating and come in six sizes from 8-9 (27-28 continental) to 4-5 (37-38 continental). They replace the old Typhoon Junior Master fins well known for many years. A range of masks and snorkels suitable for children complete the range.


    So Typhoon Juniormasters were eventually discontinued because they didn't look "serious" enough to young snorkellers who wanted their fins to bear a closer resemblance to adult versions. Juniormasters had a long shelf-life nevertheless. In my next posting I will be reviewing the adjustable open-heel Divemaster, which passed for the adult version of the closed-heel Juniormaster during the 1950s.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    img345-jpg.455157.jpg
    The image above from the Eagle Annual for Boys underwater swimming article of 1957 illustrates the Typhoon Divemaster (bottom left) alongside the Typhoon Clubmaster (top left), the Typhoon Juniormaster (top right) and the Typhoon Surfmaster (bottom right), if we move in a clockwise direction. The Divemaster (or Dive Master) was probably meant to be the "follow-on" fin for older users of the Juniormaster, to be purchased and worn when even the latter's largest-fitting foot pocket was beginning to pinch the toes. Like the Juniormaster, the Divemaster was an envelope-moulded fin with a jet stream blade. Unlike the Juniormaster, however, the Divemaster came with an adjustable heelstrap and an optional heelpiece to protect the underside of the heel.

    Divemaster (or Dive Master) fins
    Divemaster_1.png

    1956 Typhoon catalogue entry:
    Divemaster_4b.png The Divemaster was only available in one "adult" fitting. It came with twin buckles to adjust the heelstrap for size, while the "envelope" design of the foot pocket was there to support the manufacturer's claim that, when Divemasters were worn, toes could not "reach the end of the fins and rub."

    Like the Juniormaster, the Divemaster was often pictured during the 1950s and 1960s on the sides of cardboard boxes containing Typhoon diving masks:
    s-l1600k.jpg

    There is also an image of the Divemaster (below right) on page 33 of Barry J. Kimmins' 1956 diving title "Underwater Sport on a Small Income" (London: Hutchinson), designed to exemplify what was available fin-wise in the mid-1950s:
    img348.jpg

    Divemasters did not come cheap. They cost £1 19s 11d for the basic version and £2 7s 11d for the version wth heelpiece. Compare these prices with the cost of other Typhoon fins in 1956:
    1956_prices.png
    Quite a jump in price (17s 5d) between the Large Juniormaster (£1 2s 6d) and the basic Divemaster (£1 19s 11d). At £2 7s 11d, the Divemaster with heelpiece was even more expensive than the Adult size Clubmaster (£2 5s 0d), which was otherwise Typhoon's dearest fin in 1956.

    In a few days' time, operations will resume in the form of a review of the Typhoon Cressi Rondine, a British-made version of what is perhaps the world's most famous closed-heel swimming fin design.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Cressi-Typhoon Rondine Swimfins were announced on the back page of the July 1957 issue of the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) journal Triton:
    Triton_July1957_d.jpg
    The timing came too late for the 1956 edition of Skinner's handbook for skin divers, which served as the Typhoon catalogue of the mid-fities, but the model duly appeared in the 1966 version.

    1LuigiFerraro_0.preview.jpg
    The orginal Rondine was designed by Luigi Ferraro (above) and manufactured by the diving equipment manufacturer Cressi in the Italian city of Genoa. Here are the US patent drawings:
    US2737668-0.png
    Two of the innovatory features, namely the open toes and inclined blades, are clearly visible. Here is the Rondine model in Cressi's 1953 catalogue:
    CATALOGO-CRESSI - 1953 - 25.jpg
    Note the outline of the swallow on the blade and foot pocket. "Rondine" is Italian for "swallow" and the story goes that the bird was used as a logo for this fin because of the memorable annual sight of flocks of swallows migrating over Genoa.

    And here is the version sold by Healthways, who were granted sole rights to market the fin in North America during the 1950s and 1960s:
    $(KGrHqF,!iEE5dKZNMKGBOg1BO2ReQ~~60_3.JPG

    Oceanways still manufactures a Cressi Rondine fin in this style for the modern American market:
    $_70a.JPG
    and you can see how these fins are manufactured at a moulding plant in California in the following video:


    As for the Typhoon version of the Cressi Rondine first announced in 1957, the following images provide a closer look:
    s-l1601a.jpg 390097568_3_1000x700_lasty-brevettata-vodnye-vidy-sporta.jpg s-l1601b.jpg The original Italian markings are all there, including the swallow outline, the Cressi "C" logo and the adjective "Brevettata", meaning "patented". E. T. Skinner & Co (Typhoon) added the Typhoon logo and the sizing. The fin appeared in the 1966 edition of the Typhoon catalogue, captioned thus: "Rondine. Worldwide known Italian design manufactured in England. Beach shoe type foot pocket with toe opening and inclined blade. Sizes 5-6, 6-8, 8-10, 10-11, 11-13."

    This version of the Typhoon Rondine fin was the model I purchased when I joined a university branch of the BSAC in 1966 and commenced my diving training as a recreational pursuit while I studied modern languages. These fins were both comfortable and powerful and I welcomed the way such a "beach shoe type fin" protected my entire foot from rocks and pebbles, having "made-do" up to then with adjustable open-heel fins that left my heels exposed. Of course, I also welcomed the fact that Cressi Rondines and their clones were such popular and fashionable accessories on the Mediterranean Riviera at this time! I took care to buy a pair a size above my normal shoe size to accommodate the extra bulk of my wetsuit booties, an arrangement that worked perfectly for the kind of cold-weather diving we get all the year round in the UK. Full-foot fins don't have to be worn barefoot!

    In my next posting I will review the 1970s version of the Typhoon Rondine.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    Logo.jpg
    During the 1970s, E. T. Skinner (Typhoon) adopted a new logo (above). The Cressi-Typhoon Rondine swimfin of the late 1950s and the 1960s was eventually replaced by a model known as the "Typhoon Swimfin" in the 1976 and 1979 editions of the Typhoon catalogue. If you want to read these 1970s catalogues for yourself, they are available online in full text format at https://tinyurl.com/yajf8kwr and https://tinyurl.com/y7ypkmss. By then, the company's factory had moved from London to an industrial estate in the North Yorkshire seaside resort and town of Redcar.

    Typhoon (Rondine successor) swimfin
    $(KGrHqV,!h8E-v!oN52bBP)o-3DJBw~~60_12.JPG
    $(KGrHqR,!lwFIVD0muE6BSLjY6VN+Q~~60_58.JPG
    $(KGrHqV,!o0FIt6QZ5GGBSLjZ3mi7w~~60_58.JPG

    These fins were embossed with the new Typhoon logo on the top of the foot pocket and on the base of the blade. The image of the swallow remained but in a more stylised and geometrical form paying tribute to the Italian provenance of the Italian design while signalling forward-looking confidence in innovation. Neither "Cressi" nor "Rondine" appeared anywhere on the fin and even the heel tread was changed to resemble to the pattern used on Italian Squal fins (below).
    501640416_4_1000x700_pletwy-plywackie-squal-40-41-sport-i-hobby.jpg

    The wording of the 1976 and 1979 descriptions of these fins reads as follows:

    1976 Typhoon catalogue entry:
    Caption_1976.jpg
    1979 Typhoon catalogue entry:
    Caption_1979.jpg
    So the new fins came with a wider fitting and the option of a giant size for wetsuit and drysuit wearers. The quality of the materials used were stressed and the new streamlined look was intended to give the product a more professional appearance befitting the company's flagship model of swimming fin.

    The next posting will focus on the two children's models in the Typhoon range of fins that replaced the Juniormaster fin in 1979.
     
  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    In the Typhoon catalogue of 1979, the Juniormaster children's full-foot fin was replaced by the Typhoon Junior Fin, which came in two versions.

    Typhoon Junior Fin (Non-Floating)

    s-l1603a.jpg s-l1603b.jpg $_66bc.jpg
    $_66d.JPG
    Note the Junior Fin's resemblance to the adult Typhoon fin. This is no coincidence. You may recall the following from an earlier contribution to this thread:

    "The Juniormaster was only discontinued in the late 1970s because of a change in children's fashion. The March 1976 issue of "Sports Trader" magazine explains:

    "Serious looking" fins for children"
    Typhoon have launched a range of Junior fins to complement their successful new adult fins. The new junior fins are similar in appearance to the senior fins with a foot pocket in black. This is to meet the demand of children who nowadays prefer to use more serious looking products. The fins are moulded in two parts with a soft stretchy rubber for the heel and a stiffer rubber for the blade. They are non-floating and come in six sizes from 8-9 (27-28 continental) to 4-5 (37-38 continental). They replace the old Typhoon Junior Master fins well known for many years. A range of masks and snorkels suitable for children complete the range.


    So Typhoon Juniormasters were eventually discontinued because they didn't look "serious" enough to young snorkellers who wanted their fins to bear a closer resemblance to adult versions.

    Note too that the Junior Fin also differed from its adult counterpart insofar as it lacked the outline of the swallow on the foot pocket and blade. Why this was unforthcoming we can only surmise, but the answer may lie in the fact that the production of the Typhoon Junior Fin was outsourced to Italy (Note "Made in Italy" marking on fourth picture above), where Cressi operated and may have objected to its famous bird logo being used by a rival diving equipment manufacturer in the country.

    The Typhoon Junior Fin entry in the 1979 catalogue read as follows:
    Nonfloating.jpg

    The same catalogue offered a floating version of the Typhoon Junior Fin in a different colour and in a more limited range of sizes.

    Typhoon Junior Fin (Floating)
    Junior_floating.png
    The entry for this fin read as a follows:
    Floating.jpg

    So much for Typhoon Junior fins of the late 1970s. In the next posting the subject will be an adjustable open-heel Typhoon fin that like Junior Fins first appeared in the 1979 catalogue and was manufactured in Italy.
     
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    This contribution will review the Typhoon Surfmaster M(ar)k II fin, which was first launched in the company's 1979 catalogue.

    Typhoon Surfmaster Mk II Fin
    s-l1601.jpg
    s-l1600a.jpg s-l16002c.jpg s-l16002d.jpg
    The Surfmaster Mk II's resemblance to the Scubapro Jetfin is unlikely to have been a coincidence, considering the proliferation of fins with vented blades around the time. I imagine that the choice of name was intended to please diehard fans of the original Typhoon Surfmaster open-heel fin:
    _57a-jpg.453517.jpg
    The "Fits all sizes" and "Made in Italy" markings of the Surfmaster Mk II might also have suggested less than total commitment to the new fin on the part of the Typhoon company, however. Perhaps there was a degree of experimentation when the new product was introduced.

    Here is the entry for the Surfmaster Mk II in the 1979 catalogue:
    SurfmasterMkII.jpg
    This projects a more positive image, particularly about the blend of rubber used to manufacture the fin. Perhaps this expertise with materials lay with the original Italian manufacturer.

    That's it for Typhoon fins from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. My next posting will appear in a few days' time and focus on the Typhoon range of diving masks over this period.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

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    E. T. Skinner & Co. (Typhoon) offered a range of diving masks during the 1950s and 1960s.

    1956 Typhoon catalogue
    Typhoon_56_3.jpg

    1966 Typhoon catalogue
    Typhoon_1966_3.jpg

    A comparison of the two catalogue mask pages shows that:
    * The company distinguished the masks it manufactured from the other manufacturers' masks it "carried" by using the brand name "Typhoon" for the former.
    * Each Typhoon-manufactured mask had the word "Star" in its name just as every Typhoon-manufactured fin had the word "Master" in its name.
    * The company manufactured five models of diving mask in 1956, but just three in 1966 (The 1966 Compensator mask was a French import)
    * Two diving mask models (Blue Star and Super Star) were available both in 1956 and in 1966.

    The Junior Star mask was replaced by the Cadet Star to accommodate the provisions of E. T. Skinner's British Patent GB932258A of 1963 entitled "Improved Mask for Use in Underwater Swimming and Diving", whose drawings are reproduced below:

    Cushioned-Face-Mask-Flange.jpg
    The patent focuses on the use of the "cushioned face mask flange" mentioned in the 1966 Cadet Star entry.

    And here is an image from that Eagle Annual for Boys underwater swimming article of 1957 illustrating three Typhoon diving masks: Junior Star (top) , Blue Star (right) and Silver Star (bottom) if we move in a clockwise direction.
    img346.jpg

    The next posting will concentrate on one of the models available both in 1956 and 1966, the Typhoon Blue Star diving mask.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018

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