RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

22 May 2007

Deep Sea Diving. Robert Henry Davis, 1935.



Robert Henry Davis.
DEEP DIVING AND SUBMARINE OPERATIONS: A MANUAL FOR DEEP SEA DIVERS AND COMPRESSED AIR WORKERS.
Saint Catherine Press, London 1935 (and later)


Current Selling Prices
$300-$750 / £150-£350


DIVING / SPORT
Much wanted and well regarded diving book. 'The bible for hard hat divers.' Diving is a well known area of collecting and like Golf and Mountaineering those who go in for it often start collecting the books. Handsome well illustrated tomes, much recondite info - including some fictional stories and dry wit and many 'diver's yarns.' As an exposition of the art of deep-sea diving it is second to none.

VALUE? Appeared latterly in 2 vols and appears to sell expensively whatever the edition. 1950s editions, some by Davis's own company Siebe Gorman of Gwent seem prominent. It turns up signed by Sir Robert which can add a few bob. No true firsts around and one surmises they would attract good money which some divers have about their neoprene suits. Look at the cars parked around diving sites, Astras they are not. For the diver on a budget a modern reprint can be found as a Buy it Now at ebay at $195 (it seems to be the publisher who is selling it.)

Sir Robert Henry Davis(1870–1965) gets a good entry at DNB - as they put it '...Davis devoted his life to the study of problems confronting those called on to work in unbreathable atmospheres.' The DNB, by the way, notes an edition of this book from 1920, which I must investigate; he is known to have revised it throughout his life.

During a lecture for the Royal Society of Arts, he provoked some anger by suggesting (possibly ironically) that convicted murderers awaiting execution should be given the option of participating in extreme decompression experiments. ‘We feel that if such criminals were given the choice between certain execution and a chance of surviving the scientist's experiment, very few would refuse to take the risk,’ he argued. ‘While expiating their crimes, they would be helping the progress of research, and some of them might even be the instruments of such far-reaching discoveries for the benefit of suffering humanity as to warrant their inclusion among the saints - in the scientific sense.' He died at his home 'San Toi' in Epsom age 95 and left £112,930, a tidy sum 40 years ago. He was the inventor of items such as
  • Davis False Lung in 1911
  • Davis Submersible Decompression Chamber (DSDC) in 1912
  • Davis Submarine Escape Apparatus (DSEA)


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