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Vintage snorkel-mask collecting


Vintage snorkeller
Jan 5, 2007
When it comes to hoarding old items of equipment, scuba divers tend to focus on regulators, while underwater hunters concentrate on spearguns. Having always opted for snorkelling if underwater activity beckons, my attention inevitably lies elsewhere whenever the collecting bug bites.

Historical snorkelling gear can be fun to collect. In the current thread I shall showcase some of the combined diving masks and breathing tubes I have in my possession. Manufactured in a wide range of countries, some of these snorkel-masks can be traced back as far as the 1950s, when they were designed to enable underwater swimmers to breathe while observing marine life on the seabed over extended periods from a position face down on the surface of the water without a mouthpiece in the oral cavity.

First up is the Greek-made Balco 558 snorkel-mask, which is now the world's only first-generation model still in production:

You will find it on sale new on a Cypriot online retail site at BALCO MASK 558, which is where I bought the one I own. As you can see, the lens is surrounded by a stainless-steel rim. The rubber skirt is relatively stiff. Adjustable with twin metal buckles, a softer-rubber split strap secures the mask to the head. Topped with plastic float valves, two breathing tubes emerge from either side of the mask. Fitted with a hinge mechanism, these shut-off valves are meant to close the air inlets when the tips of the snorkels submerge. Enclosing the mouth as well as the nose and eyes, this article provides full face coverage, offering both nasal and oral breathing.

Until relatively recent times, two Greek diving equipment manufacturers other than Balco sub produced such vintage-style snorkel-masks: Majorca sub and Florida sub. Majorca sub made the 107S model:


and Florida sub the Kastalia:


Both are single-snorkel masks fitted with ball-operated shut-off valves. They provide the option of nasal breathing while leaving the mouth free. Neither the Majorca 107S nor the Florida Kastalia is in my collection as they were unavailable for sale online. Now they appear to have been discontinued by their manufacturers.

I do not deploy my snorkel-masks in the water as my priority is conservation. A sneak preview of my collection can be had at:

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