|CLASSIC DIVE BOOKS
PEARL and SPONGE DIVING
Please note: The books are listed for interest only, and not offered for sale.
PEARLING first then SPONGES BELOW.
DIVERS UNDER THE SEA
Subtitle: A History of the Mediterranean and Western Atlantic Sponge Trades With and Account of Early Deep Diving
Author: Torrence R Parker
Published by Sub-Sea Archives Palos Verdes Peninsula Califonia USA in 2013
Hard back with dust jacket and 247 printed pages
Dimensions: 28.5 cms tall x 22 cms wide
Review from the DJ: "In the 1940s, Torrence Parker first learnt to dive on a Greek sponge boat working out of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Now he has written a book about the sponge trade. Besides relating his personal experiences as a sponge diver, Parker also delves into the history of the sponge, one of earth’s first animals that lived under the sea as far back in time as 600 million years ago. Since the days of Aristotle naked divers began bringing up sponges from the Aegean seabed using a heavy stone to help them descend rapidly. When the Aegean Islands began to be depleted of the “golden fleece of the sea”, fleets of Greek spongers made open-sea voyages hundreds of miles across the Mediterranean in boats designed and built by them. Reaching the North African coast, they discovered the world’s largest sponge grounds. The sponge trade was revolutionised in 1863 with the introduction of compressed air diving. Tremendous wealth began to be made during the pioneering era of deep diving, but the death rate was staggering. More than 5,000 divers were killed, and thousands more paralyzed by the bends in less than 40 years. When the centre of the sponge trade shifted from the Aegean to the Gulf of Mexico, Tarpon Springs became the sponge capitalof the world, with tens of thousands of people taking part in the multimillion dollar industry. Parker interviews some of the survivors of Florida’s boom years in the sponge trade in Part II of the book. The oral histories of such ex-divers and spongers as Nick Pappas, Harry Klimis and John Maillis reveal the methods, techniques, work ethics and culture, passed down to them by their forebears who immigrated to America more than 100 years ago."
The book is extremely well presented, well bound and printed on quality paper. It is divided into two parts and in turn, each part is divided logically into chapters. Part I: Early Development of Sponge Diving, The Mediterranean, The western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and A Mass Migration to Tarpon Springs. Part II: Sponge Diving Gear, The Hookers, Sponge Diving During World War II, The Divers, The Packers, Remembering the Golden Years and An Oddysey to Investigate a 60 Year Old Mystery. There’s also four Appendix A to D : Tarpon Springs Exhibition Diving, People, Places and Sponging of Tarpon Springs, The Toth Sponge Helmets, and The Historical Diving Society. The book concludes with sections entitled Notes, Credits, General Index, People Index and various maps. It is extremely well illustrated with countless monochrome diagrams and photographs – the majority I’ve never seen before.
Exactly the same size as 20,000 Jobs Under the Sea, the book sits nicely on the bookshelf with this new book from Torrence Parker and I’m sure it will become just as collectable. There was an un-numbers re-print of his first book, maybe there will be with this one but as everything in life, nothing is certain. [pt]
I do believe, copies are still available from the HDS web site in the USA: http://www.hds.org/product-view/20000-divers-under-the-sea/
LUCK - A Story of Pearling Days.
Pearl Divers and Sea Rovers in Australian Seas.
Ion L. Idriess.
The Diving Girl's Island.Fosco Maraini.
THE ISLAND OF THE FISHERWOMEN. Fosco Maraini.
AGE OF SAIL: PEARL DIVERS, SEA CAPTAINS, AND SHIPBUILDERS PAST AND PRESENT.
Claudia Farkas Al Rashoud
Husain Mohammed Rafie Marafie, 1993.
Hardcover, dustjacket. No further details.
ODYSSEY OF A PEARL HUNTER
Joint Authors: Fred D Burdette and Percy J King
Published by: Herbert Jenkins Ltd, London in 1931
Green hard back boards with DJ, 320 printed pages
Illustrated with 16 monochrome photographs
Dimensions: 22 cms tall by 15 cms wide
The book divided into 21 chapters: “The Digger Joins a Pearling Fleet”, “Pearl Poaching in the Dutch Indies”, “The Cannibals’ Oven”, “Crocodile River”, “A Crocodile Rodeo”, “Bacchanal”, “The Deep Sea Death”, “Man Overboard”, “Fine Feathers and a Bloody Little War”, “Juramentada”, “Islands that Pass In the Night”, “The Sultan of Sulu at Home: A Royal Reception”, “From Manila to Iloilo, via Singapore”, “The Pirates of Panay”, “Pearlers’ Luck”, “Madre de Dios”, “Sea of Snakes”, “Sunken Treasure”, “Cleopatra of Cebu”, “Vale, Viking!” and “The Last Dive”
Details from the Foreward by Percy J King:
Like our Oddysey of an Orchid Hunter, this is a straight adventure story of real people, written as it was told to me by my friend Fred Burdett, in leisure hours betwixt whiles of hunting fur, fin and feather, gold and pearls. The Narrative covers a period extending from the world famous Kimberly Gold Rush to the summer of last year, when Fred celebrated his sixtieth birthday by swimming Crocodile River in the dark – and thereby brought our collaboration to an untimely end. The episodes sweep from the Australian bush and the pearl fisheries of the Indian Ocean coast, to the treacherous channels in the tide-race between the Pacific and China Sea. There you meet The Viking – a nom de guerre that veils the identity of a very gallant English gentleman who was also one of the toughest pearlers in the Far East; and the dour MacPhee- gold prospector, and swift avenger of a murdered digger; and many strange tribes of savages whom our hunter is on visiting terms. Twice he witnessed the ceremonial rape of momen selected by the tribal medicine man in paint and feathers, to mother an unborn race of black warriors. Once nosing around a Myall camp, he peeped light heartedly into a cooking pot – and found a slim young girl’s body roasting for a cannibal meal. The Oddysey is not for squeamish folk; but every link in the story is stamped with truth, from the hand-to-hand battle in Mary River Gorge until the supernal star shone down on Santa Cruz.
Some of the forward may be "unpolitically correct" these days but it is what it says. [pt]
A True Story of Thrilling Adventure Under the Sea. (Paperback, as shown).
Pearl Diver - Adventuring
Over and Under Southern Seas.
OF PEARLS - Broom's First 100 Years.
Published by author, Perth, WA, 1984. ISBN 0-646-19309-0
Softcover, 198 pages, mono and colour plates.
Broome, on the remote northern coast of Western Australia, is known for its pearling industry. Its past history weaves a rich tradition of several cultures including the indigenous Australians, Indonesians, Malays, Japanese and virtually anyone with a colourful background. But cyclones, the Pacific war, sharks and the dreaded bends have left many bones in the local graveyard, and more on the bottom of the sea. There was an appalling death rate among the early divers where ignorance of the hazards of deep and prolonged diving resulted in a painful death or at best, incapacitation, through what became known as decompression sickness. The industry survived; cultured pearls from Broome are now the best in the world. Hugh Edwards’ historical and contemporary insights into Broome make a fitting tribute to the resilient Australian town which is now fast becoming one of the finest tourist destinations in Australia. An excellent read for all divers. [ps]
In print, available from Oceans Enterprises. See also author's page.
Angus & Robrston, Sydney, london 1956.
Hardcover, dustjacket, 207 pages, mono prints, no index.
From the fly: The man who wrought this pearly revolution was Mikimoto, a one-time street peddler of noodles and sea foods who became one of Japan's richest and most beloved men. 'The Pearl King' is his story. Born on the south coast of Japan, Mikimoto was acutely aware of the depletion of the once rich pearl fisheries off the shores of his village. After twelve years of expensive and discouraging failures, he discovered a way of producing a cultured pearl which so resembled a natural pearl that only a special X-ray could detect the difference. He soon was able to offer his pearls at one-quarter of the current price - a Japanese habit of undercutting which we now know only too well but which then created a sensation in the pearl markets: soon Mikimoto pearl salons were opened across the world from Paris to Shanghai. But ‘The Pearl King' is not merely the story of the birth and growth of a bizarre commercial enterprise; it is' also the story of the simple little man who discovered the secret and built up the business. Until he was allmost ninety he entertained his factory workers with his juggling feats and conjuring magic: at ninety-four he was still hale and hearty, and still actively managing his business. [ps]
A Tale of Adventure in the Southern Seas.
Alexander MacDonald. Illustrated by Edward S. Hodgson.
Published 1908 by Blackie & Sons, Limited, London.
Hardcover, no dustjacket, printed boards showing title and author, and image of wrecked ship[ on shore; 364 pages, plus 16 pages of book advertisements, several mono plates, illustrations to the text. Preface - "I have based this story on some personal expereinces in the South Seas, and on some well-known incidents which occurred there, of which I happen to have some experience". The author goes on to mention a well known Australian shipwreck - "As for th advenjturers, I need only remind my readers of the gang of very modern pirates who stole the Highland Railway Company's steamer ferret. This vessel, as is well known, was engaged in several more or less nefarious practices before she was finally captured at Melbourne." The Ferret indeed was captured on a voyage from Englan to Marseilles, but never arrived; she was captured, as the India, after entering Port Phillip. There is nothing in this work of fiction that adds to our knowledge of the voyages of the Ferret, and indeed she seems never to hve entere the South Pacific, but no doubt the author took some inspiration from her piracy. A ripping good yarn eh wot! [ps]
WHITE DIVERS OF BROOME.
The True Story of a Fatal Experiment.
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd, 2001.Reprinted several times - below image in 2004 in smaller format.
Softcover, 301 pages, 26 mono plates.
This book could have won the Booker Prize if it were fiction, and not a true account of bureaucratic stupidity and racism. Brilliantly written, it is perhaps the most interesting, if not significant, book to be published on diving in Australia in the last ten years. In 1912, twelve British Royal Navy-trained divers were sent to the predominantly Asian town of Broome in Australia's remote north-west to master the art of pearl-shell diving. Such an arrangement, urged on by the Commonwealth Government deep in the grip of a White Australia policy, was not so much as to wrench away the industry from the industrious Japanese, Malays, Aborigines and others, but to prove the supremacy of the white race. Not only is this the true story of those who died to prove an unnecessary point but it gives a wonderful background to a still fascinating and myssterious town, of a tightly-packed Asian community opf opium dens, food stalls and brothels, "where pearl shell mattered more than human life". If you like true history with more than a touch of the dramatic, this is the book.
From the fly: In 1912 Broome was as much Asian as Australian. The town thrived on the hugely profitable, and extremely dangerous pearl-shell industry, using Asian labour that was cheap to hire and easy to replace. It was a frontier town, where racial tensions simmered uneasily between whites, Asians anq'Aborigines. In that year, twelve British Royal Nary-trained divers and their tenders were sent to Broome to take part in the White Experiment. Their task was to master the perilous art of pearl- shell diving and overcome the Asian stranglehold on the pearling industry, proving once and for all the supremacy of the white man over the coloured. Urging them on was a
Commonwealth Government deep in the grip of the White Australia Policy and anxious to rid the country of the last remaining Asian 'taint'. The White Divers of Broome tells the extraordinary, true story of this experiment and its fatal aftermath. Set against the backdrop
of Broome, it vividly conjures up a world in which lanes lined with noodle stalls and opium dens, and the slum dwellings of hawkers and prostitutes were more redolent of Asia than Australia; and where pearl shell mattered more than human life. [ps]
|What do you know about sponge diving books?
A viewer of this website is seeking the title of a book he knew as a youngster, about a group of kids - something like Enid Bylron's Famous Five or Secret Seven - who go to a Greek Island and sponge dive. It appears not to be one of Enid Blyon's books. Any ideas? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a suggestion.
Subtitle: The Real Story of Greek Sponge Diving.
Published by: Guardian Angel Press, UK in 2000. (Reprinted with revisions in 2001)
Illustrated card covers with 114 printed pages. Dimensions: 21 cms tall by 15 cms wide.
The book tells the story of the Greek sponge divers, their families and their way of life, customs, tradition and popular folklore particularly on the Dodecanese Islands. The stories are told to the author by the divers and their families themselves. It goes on to look at their new communities in America and Australia. The book is divided into 21 chapter and is very well illustrated with monochrome photographs. [pt]
- THE STORY OF STATHIS HATZIS
The Story of Stathis Hatzis - And the history of sponge - fishing free divers in Greece
Publisher: Kindle Edition, 2014
Print length: 188 pages
Stathis G. Hatzis was the head diver among Symi's and the Dodecanese's hundreds of free divers - sponge divers in the early 20th century. In 1913, he dived to a depth of 88 meters, for 4 minutes, in his attempt to locate and tie the anchor of the Italian battleship Regina Margherita which had been lost on the ocean floor.
The book is the biography of Stathis Hatzis and follows Stathi in his three day adventure to find and secure the lost anchor, making a total of 16 record free dives from 50 to 88 meters depth. Stathis Hatzis' unique accomplishment was representative of the incredible abilities of this humble sponge diver, as well as his generation's, the last free divers - sponge divers, diving with the kampanelopetra, who disappeared along with a unique in the world tradition, which had endured uninterrupted until then, since the depths of antiquity.
In the pages of this book, the adventures and legendary dives of Stathis Hatzis become the reason to chronicle the entire history of free diving in Greece, from its origins in ancient times to the late 20th century. Rare photos and documents reveal the achievements of an island population consisting of thousands of free divers and their families, who, with Symi and the Dodecanese as an epicentre, achieved greatness in the Aegean for centuries, thanks to the precious sponges gathered from the depths of the Mediterranean and traded in the markets of Europe and America. (Kindly advised by the author).
OF THE SPONGE FLEET
Henry Chapin and Peter Throckmorton.
Little, Brown & Co. Boston, Massachusetts 1964
Hardcover, dust Jacket; 8vo - over 7" - 9" tall ; 104pp, glossary of Greek words, illustrated throughout with authentic sketches.
- Common Commodities ands Industries.
E J Cresswell
Published by: Sir Isaac Pitman Ltd, London UK c1920. (Book not dated but signed by author 26th July 1922)
Hard cover no dust jacket; 126 printed pages. Dimensions: 18.5 cms tall by 12.5 cms wide.
This book was written by Ernest J Cresswell, a co-director of Cresswell Brothers, Sponge Importers in Holborn London, the other director was his brother, Alfred. The book not only shows different types of sponges but documents how sponges have been “harvested” through history starting with free divers using a heavy stone up to modern times with standard diving equipment and “the latest invention of the Ferenz Apparatus”. It also covers sponge diving around the world like the Mediterranean, Bahamas, Cuba, British Honduras, Florida.
Extremely well illustrated throughout with all different diving methods through history shown along with different types of sponges found.
This book is one of what was called the “Common Commodities and Industries” series. Other books in the series included tea, rubber, coal, iron founding, cotton spinning plus many more (over 60 are listed). Apparently, each book cost 3 shillings, which I guess was quite expensive in 1920? [pt]
Note: Cover image has been 'tweeked' to show lettering. It has a dark green cover with black type.
Charmian Clift and George Johnston.
First published 1956, Collins, London
Hardcover, no dust jacket my copy, 314 pages, no photographs.
The authors are no strangers to the Australian literary scene of the mid 20th century, having several books between them, and he a respected journlaist also. They claim the book to be fiction, based on the island of Kalymnos in Greece, where they lived for many years, but no doubt there is a measure of authenticity in their tales.
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