Nation's Attic 2024 Diving Into History

Original 1915 REPORT ON DEEP DIVING TESTS Signed By Stillson

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The Holy Grail of diving books! A legendary publication and one of the very, very, rarest. It comes from an estate of a recently deceased USN Captain who was a career navy Diving Officer. The Report by Gunner George D. Stillson, USN, on the USN deep water diving trials that brought standardization to USN diving equipment by laying the foundation for the USN Mark V diving helmet and associated equipment. Operating from the USS Walke, Stillson’s team used Morse and Schrader bolt and interrupted threat commercial helmets to various depths on air, culminating in Gunner’s Mate Drellishak’s dive to 274 feet. Combining the team’s diving experiences with written opinions submitted from experienced navy divers of the period, Stillson developed the requirements for what would become the USN Mark V. Pages168 – 215 are COPIES OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATED TO DIVING IN THE NAVY. These are from divers who Stillson wrote to for comment on improving equipment and diving in the Navy and are quite revealing. The fold out diagram for Helmet for Diving Apparatus (Prototype helmet that would develop into the USN Mark V) is at the end of this section which closes with the text, IMPROVED DIVING HELMET. The helmet shown in drawing meets all the requirements mentioned in paragraphs Nos. 53 to 61, inclusive. The helmet is made slightly larger, and the shape is changed to permit the use of the improved telephone. The shown Content pages detail the expanse of historical information contained in the book with references to Haldane, Hill, Hall-Rees and others. For these tests Stillson used diving helmets from Morse, Schrader, Siebe Gorman and Draeger, and records opinions on them, which include: the bolt helmets should be abandoned in favor of interrupted thread, adding a spit cock, using a hinged face plate, (all of which were incorporated in the Mark V) and more.

Appendix 1 has detailed dive reports including Drellishak’s 274 dive on air and there are several photos of the divers on the USS Walke during the tests.
Fold out diagrams include: Helmet for Diving Apparatus (Prototype helmet that would develop into the USN Mark V.), Air Control valve, Exhaust valve, Box for Diving Telephone Outfit, Proposed changes to Navy Standard Diving Dress, Candle Power of Diving Lantern, Hose couplings and Clamp, Weight Belt, Ladder for Diving Apparatus, Recompression Tank for Deep Sea Diving Experiments. B & W photos include. Diving Lantern, Draeger Submarine Escape Apparatus, Siebe Gorman submarine escape apparatus.

Condition. Book is in very good condition with minimal wear considering it is antiquarian and almost 110 years old. It is complete and tight. There is a brief inscription and a signature that appears to be George D. Stillson USN, on the fly sheet. This signature is different from Stillson’s signature from 1915 that is reproduced on some of the diagram pages. It is possible that the book was signed by Stillson much later in his career and that his signature had changed. The book is Ex-Navy Department Library with an NDL DUPLICATE stamp on the inside back cover, opposite three dates of 1942, 1943, 1945 in pencil by Book Due in pencil. There is a small piece at the top edge of this page missing where it looks like a paper clip was attached and removed. There is a very slight outline of a regular library card pocket being attached on the back inside cover. The title page is embossed from the Navy Department Library and has a small 1/ ½” tear near the spine. NDL is stamped at the top of page 13. LIBRARY Bureau of Construction and Repair Navy Department, Washington D.C. is stamped at top of page 41. There is clear tape on the edge of pages 102, 103/104, 105/06. This does not affect the content in any way and may have been caused by having to separate these pages if they were not cut properly when printed. The signature section of pages 241 – 252 is duplicate at the end of the book. Hardbound with gold embossed cover title and spine. 252 pages, with diagrams, b&w photos, and fold out diagrams.

The book sets the foundation for the 1916 USN Diving Manual that follows it the next year and introduces the USN Mark V helmet, which becomes the navy standard for over half a century. The detailed research by Stillson and his team presented here marks the coming of age of navy diving from assembles of different equipment from different manufactures to a military standard. A legendary publication. We have heard and read about his book for many years, but this is the only copy of the book we have ever seen, and we are honored to be able to present it.