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Brazilian Person dive helmet

  • Ref: c_2079
Brazilian Person dive helmet.
Il was used in the diamond extraction in the State of Gerais Mines made 1920-1930. It is in very good state of conservation, with all the original pieces and a beautiful patina, that registers their history and the age of the object.
These diving helmets are rare very looked for by collectors since few have made in Brazil, because the main activity of Person was to make boat propellers and not diving helmets.

Brazil, officially the Federal Republic of Brazil, is located in South America. It comprises the eastern half of the continent and groups of small islands in the Atlantic. Its current capital is Brasilia, and the federation contains 26 states and more than 5,500 municipalities, despite its more than 192 million people, what makes Brazil the fifth most populous country in the world. The country has a low population density index, because of its high concentration of people along the coast, leaving a large demographical empty inside, which is diversely populated with Indigenous, European, African and Asian.

Fig 1: Brazil map

São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco and Bahia are the most populated states, while Amapá is the state with the smaller population, today.

Its surface is 8.5 million km2, located between the tropics, being the fifth largest country in the world, with more than 7.491km of coastline.

It has a very diverse climate, the vast Amazon rainforest covers over 3.6 million km 2 of its territory, the altitude of its territory is very moderate, and its topography consists of three major watersheds, the Amazon (northern third of the country ) the Brazilian Massif (more than two thirds to the south) and the Guiana Shield in the northern part.

The abundance of rainfall, in the North region (Amazonas, Acre, Pará...), the Midwest (Mato Grosso, Goiás ...) and the Southeast (Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo) have led to the formation of 12 large watersheds, and its major rivers Amazonas, Parana, Sao Francisco, Paranaiba, Paraguay and Uruguay, with their numerous tributaries and streams.

In past, the slave trade was one of Brazil's resources, since the cattle were scarce. Its most important natural resources are mining diamonds, gold, gems, emeralds, iron, magnesium, nickel, phosphorus, silver, etc. The country produces over 70% of its oil needs, and the electricity is also produced by the exploration of the rivers' flows.

Fig 2: Diamonds

Fig 3: Rough agatas umbu

Most rivers are plateau, featuring waterfalls and cataracts. The Amazon River, one of the most extensive in the world, being from 4-5 km to 50 km, in width up, and a length of over 6,800 km, has a really slow speed (between 2-7 km / hour).

One of these mythical places, is the region of Minas Gerais, a state of one of the 27 federal units with over 17 million inhabitants (Minas Gerais is a state), located in the Southeast region of Brazil with more than 580,000 kms2, limited by the states of Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Mato Grosso, to the south. Its capital is Belo Horizonte, with more than 5 million people, ranking second in the federated state population. Its cultural value includes the town of Ouro Preto, built in the eighteenth century, and the first in Brazil to be declared by UNESCO in 1980, as a World Heritage Site. The pseudonym: Historic Town of Ouro Preto.

Many of the great historical events in Brazil, had their epicenter in this region, like the Revolution (1930) and the discovery of gold mines (1707-1710) that triggered in the war of the Emboabas; the proclamation of the federation, in 1889, and the military state intervention, in 1964.

Ouro Preto, Para de Minas, Diamantina, Rio Acima are the eldest colonial cities. On their territory are the main headwaters of Brazil, since they have no outlet to the sea.

Fig 4: "Garimpeiros"

Fig 5: Garimpeiros gold and diamond

The most important river in this region, Sao Francisco is born in Sierra Canastra, and divides into other rivers, like Rio Grande and Rio Paraná, until the Atlantico; with numerous waterfalls like Paredao in Guape.

The main Area of Minas Gerais was explored by the portuguese colonizers, in 1720, under the names of Minas Gerais dos Goitacazes and Minas Gerais do Ouro Preto, while they were looking for gold, diamonds, gemstones and other precious minerals.

Fig 6: "Garimpo" With fluvial diving helmet
Brazil got no lakes, but it has lagoons and ponds, formed when the flood's water got stuck between the sediment's barriers, left by the rivers when they return to their normal flow.

It is here in this land of alluvial sediments, formed by large mud and gravel sediments, where since the old times, Fernando de Orellana (1541), and then the portuguese, Pedro Teixeira (1638) created and developed the extraction of gold, silver and precious stones, like diamonds, emeralds, agates, which the native Indians had already discovered.

Fig 7: "Garimpeiros" Seekers of gold and diamonds

These rivers with little current, dark waters and shallow depth, in the plains flooded by the rains, form areas that are prone to landslides, due to its composition of gravel and sand, with little alluvium.

Fig 8: Some divers and a tool
The waters of the rivers, muddy, and unclear, were the place where, using the only possible technique, using touch of hands or feet, using a shovel, bucket, the samples of "cascalho" were taken, inside a burlap sack, hoping to find evidences of tourmaline, hematite, rutile, etc, which could confirm the approaching of a vein of gold or precious gems, to pass it on to the raft or banks, where was established the "wash zone". The extracted material was passed through a sieve or screen "Saruka", where it was washed with water, and the heavy material was retained in the bottom (such as gold prospectors in the old American West).

To facilitate section, a stick like a pencil was used, thus leaving the popular phrase "write the cascalho".

In India, the diamond are found mainly in areas of ancient sandstones and conglomerates, probably at the silurids and masses of the rivers. In Brazil, in the state of Minas Gerais, the robes are found in a rock consisting largely of quartz and mica, in the states of Bahia, Goias and Mato Grosso, they exist in alluvial deposits and in the rivers' sand.

Minas Gerais's diamonds are relatively small, with high quality, of blue, white and yellow-red colours. Mato Grosso's diamonds are very hard, with a greasy look, also called carbonated diamond.

The word diamond comes from the Greek word adamas ("invincible") that was surely applied to any rock hard as corundum, known by the Romans in the first century AD, but until then, of Indian origin. In South Africa the diamond is found in the sands of the rivers and at the crateriformes depressions of the soil, it is full in a land of yellowish brown surface, and bluish gray depth, constituted by eruptive rock particles, analogous to the serpentine.

Fig 10: "Die Woche"

Fig 9: A diver

In 1726, diamonds were discovered in Brazil, and in 1866 in South Africa, that is now the leading producer of these gems. Famous Diamonds: Some diamonds have become historical, especially for their size, the largest of all is the Cullinan, discovered in the Premier Mine in South Africa in 1905, and was offered to Edward VII, weighed 3,106 carats before being cut, and was transformed in 105 gems. The Star of Africa, with 530.2 carats, is the largest faceted diamond in the world, the Vargas diamond, found in Brazil in 1938, weighing 726.6 carats rough, the Jonker, The Lesotho (1967), the Great Mongol, the Baptiste Tavernier, and the Koh-i-noor are among the most known by quality and size.

Search and industrial exploitation of diamonds, gold and gems have led to the emergence of large desert areas, the automation with numerous large rafts and suction pumps with high flow, working day and night in the headwaters of the great rivers (Amazonas), have left some rivers fishless, diverting its course, and the digging of wells, with the removal of alluvian lands, havs caused the desertification of zones that used to be fertile. This is the heritage we got from the boundless desire of power and money.

Louis Charles Person (1873-1964)

Fig 11: Louis Charles Person

Fig 12: Passport
French, founder of the company "Officina Mechánica Charles Person". He was born on 08/08/1873 in Paris (France), emigrated to Brazil with his wife Mrs. Josephina Daumichen in 1896, establishing his residence in Sao Paulo.

In 1904 he founded the "Officina Mechánica Charles Person" in Calle Augusto de Queiroz No. 42, dedicating himself to the import and export of naval components and parts, specializing in the manufacture of propellers, rudders, hatches and accessories for the naval industry.

The first manufactured helmets (1) were for fluvial use, for shallow rivers ... that is to say for "garimpeiros", prospectors of gold, diamonds and precious stones in the numerous rivers of the Brazilian territory.

The helmets with 12 bolts (2), were manufactured later at the request of the Brazilian Navy for the sea, their number was very limited due to the emergence of autonomous diving with bottle, which left them quickly out of use.

He also manufactured air pumps, telephone centrals, lead ballasts, leather jackets and all the accessories that a diver needed at that time.

Fig 13: Workshop

Fig 14: First Factory "Officina Mechanica Charles Persón"

Fig 15: Exhibition Helmets and bombs

Fig 16: Business card

Produced two types of Helmets:

  • For rivers and shallow waters: Used for "garimpeiros" or helmet divers, seekers of gold, diamonds and precious stones
  • Maritime: for the sea, deep water 12 bolts.

This rig was composed of a copper helmet, fixed on a plate or perctoral, also made of copper. The helmet is attached to the chest by 12 screws/bolts. Between the helmet and breastplate, fastened with 12 screws/bolts, is the leather jacket that facilitates the formation of an air bubble inside the helmet and shoulders of the "garimpo" or diver. A rubber hose connects the helmet to the rotary pump, on the surface, usually on a raft, or on the shore. A lead weight of 25 kg is hung on the front and back of the helmet which ensures its negative buoyancy.

Fig 17: Brasilian Person dive helmet

Fig 18: Brasilian Person dive helmet

Fig 19: Helmet Brazilian Person 12b

The helmets were provided with a valve at the top for ventilation inside, (remove air) to avoid excessive concentration of CO2. Is also the air inlet or connection with the hose, others also had incorporated phones therein. (Fig 18)

The front window (front) is unscrewed as a standard helmet. Inside three conductors distributed on the incoming air side and center windows to prevent fogging.

The approx. weight is 14 kg to 15 kg. Four windows, a front one of 16 cm, the side ones with 11 cm, and a top one of 9 cm. They incorporate both the front and the back, two hooks for weights, in the front between the two locks of weights is the manufacturer's nameplate are not numbered and are unknown to date the number of SCUBA produced by Person. (Fig 17, 18)

The jacket (Fig.20) as mentioned above, is fixed by 12 screws/bolts from the helmet and breastplate, usually leather or waterproof fabric, short sleeves and over the waist is topped by a belt, comprising several turns of a rope topped by a simple knot rapid fast.

Fig 20: Person jacket

Fig 21: Rare ‘Person’ Diamond-divers Apparatus

Fig 22: Person air supply pump

Fig 23: Nameplate

Fig 24: Detail

Fig 25: Nameplate

Fig 26: Nameplate

Fig 27: Nameplate

The air pumps are very simple, single piston, without cooling and with two side flyers for hand operation. It was subsequently coupled pulleys to be driven by electric motors that are connected by a variable length hose to the top of the helmet, also have a nameplate (Fig 23).

Different labels correspond to different eras and generations diving suits, of the Person.

We believe that the oldest might be:

"Officina Mechananica, Charles Person, Rua Augusta Queriroz-9 to Sao Paolo.

The predominant use of the helmets, in 3m to 40m depths rivers, was for the finding of gems. We do not rule out various uses due to the large size of the Brazilian coast and its numerous rivers.

Person helmets with 12 bolts, as indicated above, were requested by the Brazilian Navy for use at sea, offering the following advantages:

Greater resistance, great visibility, expulsion valve - air adjustment, system of screwing to the suit with 12 bots or screws, telephone communication system, with a weight of 23,560 approx.

All this implied greater security and comfort in its use, despite its manufacture was very limited due to the apearinq of diving with bottles.

Because of the importance that Louis Charles Person and his company "Officina Mechanica Charles Person" took in the development of the diving suit at the end of the 19th century in Brazil, we pas to briefly detail the evolution of this family business till present time, servingit as a tribute to his memory and that of his descendants as pioneers of the underwater adventure with diving helmets!

Fig 28: Factory Georges Person en Guarulhos
In 1968, a few years after the death of Louis Charles Person (1964), the Company moved to the neighborhood of La Mooca, in Conselheiro Justino street No. 611 in front of his first-born Georges Person with the new name "Georges Person ind. E com ltda."

Georges Person (1894-1974) made his studies of Naval Engineering in France. As enthusiastic navigator, he had three boys, Horacio, Paulo Jacques and Rogeiro, all joined the family business.
Subsequently the youngest of them Rogerio with the title of Metallurgical Engineer opened his own company "Fabrica Nacional de Hélices" selling bronze component to the company of his father, becoming a great competitor, but this lasts little ... declaring bankruptcy in a short time.

After the death of his father in 1974, the company moved back to street 3 Gingle No. 1299 in the party Guarulhos s/p, being directed this time by Horacio and Paulo Jacques but they end up fighting for the inheritance of their mother Mrs. Cida Person, who gave preference to his son Paulo Jacques.

Horacio then opened the company "Hope" also to manufacture propellers, is later transformed into a shipyard reaching the bankruptcy in a short time.

Paulo Jacques Person (1933-2000) became at the head of the company until (1989), when his wife commits suicide by taking the revolver of a company guard.

Some time later the company returns to its activities in the street Don Pedro No. 212 in Guarulhos, ceded by Paulo Jacques Person to one of its oldest employees Orlando Guimarases who started as an apprentice and today is the director of the company "Person Helices Nauticas"

Fig 29: Georges Person marine propulsión equipment

Given the importance that Louis Charles Person and his company "Officina Mechanica Charles Person" had in the development of the diving helmet at the end of the 19th century in Brazil, we have briefly related the evolution of this family business till the present days as a tribute to its memory and of its descendants, as pioneers of the underwater adventure with helmet diving in Brazil so that the world and diving lovers do not forget it !!!

We especially appreciate the unselfish collaboration of Guillermo Taboada, who with his information has made possible the preparation of this article ... thanks.

I only buy pieces or change/sell the pieces published on my website with the tag "CHANGE - FOR SALE". If you have some things to offer or to change, we can speak about the price and in the case of change, we pay the price difference by cash. I’m a spanish collector of classic diving helmets, boots, knives, etc. Don't hesitance to contact us if you have some item to offer.