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Basic gear from mid-twentieth-century France

Discussion in 'Vintage Equipment Diving' started by David Wilson, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Mike Lev

    Mike Lev Barracuda

    Hello Sam I think the island you mean is Terminal Island.The first Sea Dive masks had that address on them.They are very rare I have one.The island today is used as low security federal prision.I will be home in a few days.I think I have an old Hurricane catalog or brochure.I also have there cocking band speargun.I have an aluminum snorkel made by them also and mask.
  2. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    Dang Kids with college education !
    (a quote from my well educated father Sam Jr.)

    Mike you are so correct !
    It was Terminal Island !
    The modern California Treasure Island is located near San Francisco

    Thanks for being so eagle eyed

    Sam III
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    On to the next few diving masks in the Hurricane range.

    Hurricane Cadet mask
    The French caption reads: "“Cadet” mask. The contour of this mask is a result of thorough research and ensures a perfect seal. Your children need this mask."

    The mask was imported to England by E. T. Skinner (Typhoon) and appeared in the 1956 Typhoon catalogue with the caption "A juvenile diving mask in deluxe finish. Incorporates all features of the adult models. Fitted with plastic lens." The price back then was £1 6s 0d.

    Note the decorative tridents and the large flange sealing the mask to the face. The latter was also a feature of the Typhoon Super Star mask:
    The feather edge skirt and the metal rim both indicate that Hurricane was loath to skimp on quality when designing and marketing children's equipment.
    Compressor likes this.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Next in line is the Hurricane Ajax mask.

    Hurricane Ajax mask

    It was retailed in 1960 by the then sole distributor of Hurricane products within Italy, Aziende Riunite Minetto & Figlio, via Borromei, Milan:

    A better view of the mask can be found in these pictures of an actual mask:
    Note the heavy reinforcements typical of early post-war diving masks in general and Hurricane masks in particular.
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Third diving mask of the day is the Hurricane Argonaute.

    Hurricane Argonaute mask
    hurricane_argonaute-2.png hurricane_argonaute.png
    A rough translation of the Italian caption in the second and third images above: "D. 1122 ARGONAUTE. This dive mask comes with side windows to increase visibility.

    Thanks to the ad below, we can date the introduction of this mask to 1957:
    The French caption reads roughly as follows in English: "New for 1957. All round visibility with the new “ARGONAUTE” mask. Equipped with side windows, the “ARGONAUTE” guarantees a very wide field of vision. I love the comparison made between the mask and a car windscreen and passenger's window for those who could not see the benefit of the new design straight away. So much for the new technology. As for the mythology, "The Argonauts (who gave the name 'Argonaute' to this diving mask) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology, who in the years before the Trojan War, around 1300 BC, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, Argo, named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts" literally means 'Argo sailors'" (Wikipedia).

    The Hurricane Argonaute was exported as far as Canada if the evidence of this 1959 ad is to be believed:
    I don't suppose we'll ever know how successful South West Sports was in its search for jobbers, dealers and clubs willing to be supplied with Hurricane diving equipment.

    The Hurricane Argonaute may have inspired two later (circa 1960) diving masks also attempting to provide swimmers, as well as drivers, with 180° vision:

    Barakuda Stromboli
    Aqualung Professional
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    The final diving mask of the day only appeared in the 1947 Hurricane catalogue.

    Hurricane Optique mask
    The French caption translates roughly into English as "“Optique” mask. Special optical glasses can be fitted without tooling." This mask offering the possibility of corrective lenses to underwater swimmers is remarkable considering its availability as early as 1947. The model did not appear in later Hurricane catalogues, however.

    Here are two full pages from the Hurricane catalogue where the "Optique" appears:

    If you're curious about the other pages in this early Hurricane cataogue, follow this link: Chasse sous-marine vue par Dubout. Not only will you see every item of underwater swimming gear marketed by Hurricane but you will also be able to view the humorous illustrations of the great French cartoonist and graphic designer Albert Dubout, whose "Happy Holidays" greeting can be found below. It seems appropriate considering the date of this posting:

    If you want to find out more about Albert, read the Wikipedia article about him at Albert Dubout - Wikipedia.

    So that's your lot for today. I'll move on to Hurricane snorkels in a few days' time.
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    On to Hurricane breathing tubes. I thought I'd start with another Dubout cartoon (above), which illustrates what was called the "Plume" (Pen) in the 1947 Hurricane catalogue:
    The caption accompanying the illustration at the bottom right in the image above reads "Irremplissable en plongée", meaning that it won't fill up (with water) when submerged.

    In a later catalogue, the product name seems to have changed from "Plume" to "Meduse". "Meduse" is French for "Medusa", who was a monster from Greek mythology with snakes for hair:
    The caption from the later Hurricane catalogue translates roughly into English as follows: "H. 12 — “MÉDUSE” breathing tube. A rubber cap tops the aluminium barrel of the “Méduse” (Medusa) breathing tube, which is supplied without a valve or a float. It works in any position. The small rubber cap closes tightly when submerged. This unjammable device eliminates all danger of asphyxiation."

    The design of this snorkel bears a very close resemblance to a model marketed by E. T Skinner (Typhoon) in the UK and reviewed in another thread here:
    Ley Kenyon commented thus on this "schnorkel": "Typhoon. Straight tube with cap valve. I found it suited me well. Costs less than £1." So the J-shaped, aluminium alloy barrelled "T1" came with a "splash cap" to protect the rube opening when submerged. Here is an image from 1954 showing the "T1" in use underwater:
    The picture shows air being expelled from the top of the snorkel while the swimmer is under water. The "T1" was available for purchase during the 1950s and 1960s.
    Compressor likes this.
  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    In the 1947 Hurricane catalogue, "Plume" (Pen) was the product name of a J-shaped "respirateur" (breathing tube) with a rubber "splash cap". In a later catalogue the name applied to a new S-shaped snorkel.

    Hurricane Plume snorkel
    The caption can be rendered as "“PLUME” breathing tube. This very low-cost breathing tube is safe for children and beginners to use. Barrel made of aluminium or plastic."

    The Plume snorkel is pictured above with the top of the barrel left open to accommodate swimmers wishing to dispense with the valve normally attached to the supply end of an S-shaped tube.
    Compressor and John C. Ratliff like this.
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    For users of the Hurricane Plume model above and other S-shaped snorkels, a "ping-pong" ball valve was available.

    Hurricane ping-pong ball valve
    Caption in English: "Ping-pong ball valve. Compatible with double-bend breathing tubes. Prevents water from entering when submerged."

    Here are images of an actual Hurricane Plume snorkel:
    image1.jpg image2.jpg image3.jpg
    This ball valve may have inspired the Typhoon Model T2 double-bend breathing tube made in England. The latter was the first snorkel I ever owned:

    You may have noticed that the shape of the rubber "ball cages" on the Hurricane and the Typhoon models are different. The Hurricane cage resembles a sphere, while the Typhoon cage resembles a cylinder. The Hurricane sphere design had its imitators, e.g. Safari of Spain:
    ahsdjyrgf 006.jpg
    Compressor and John C. Ratliff like this.
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Hurricane manufactured a second snorkel valve called the Hurricane Automatic Valve.

    Hurricane Automatic Valve
    Caption in English: "Hurricane AUTOMATIC valve. Fits any CURVED breathing tube. The patented valve shuts off at the slightest contact with water. This valve closes when submerged and seals the air intake in all positions.

    This device puzzles me because I can't tell whether it is intended for a J-shaped or S-shaped snorkel. Perhaps, dear reader, you may be able to offer suggestions.

    Otherwise, that's enough for today. Next time I will review Hurricane brand combined snorkel masks. Stay tuned.

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