2023 - 2024 Seasons Greetings Davids Import


Last May I re-launched Davids Import here in France, the company I had run for 28 years in Holland where I had to close it down last December because of our emigration. It has now been registered under the same name here in France. Early next year, when we have a fixed internet connection I can continue listing goods for sale at the deepseaclassifieds website. Several helmets, air pumps and lots of regulators etc. are awaiting new owners but during the last months we have been very busy with the move to France and all paperwork that comes with it.


We are very happy in our new ‘own’ home, but we still have a lot to do before we can ‘really live’ here. The place we bought here dates from the 1930’s and there is a lot of work ahead to get everything updated to modern standards. At the moment, life here is very simple and pure which we enjoy a lot. Especially now that it is winter we wake up in a cold house. The first job is lighting the wood stove (Norwegian Jøtul) and then wait for it to warm up with a cup of coffee in hand. The wood stove is upstairs in the kitchen of the apartment, which is currently our warmest room. But when the sun is out we have a huge 20 by 3 meter window in the South facade downstairs in the former workshop.


Like last year we do not send any cards by (paper) mail only because we did not have time to prepare it all. We will continue doing this next year: who sent us a card by mail last year and / or this year will receive a card.


Diving: I have re-started helmet diving here in the South. Last year I was asked by the Barcelona Underwater Camera Museum if I could help them out on an event they had organized in Lloret de Mar, Spain. They needed a diver which was interesting enough for the underwater photographers who were attending the event. The Museum provided us with air tanks and a certified Navy Diver, I myself was tending. This was a great succes and last September we went there for a second time to be assisted by 2 other hard hat diving teams: Juan ‘Snorkel’ Torres from Llafranc was diving a Miller Dunn ‘Divinhood Style 3’ helmet and Thomas and Batist, grandsons of the French helmet diver Jacques Abdoun dived an ex Dutch Army Siebe Gorman equipment. (see chapter Spain on the index) And last week we were invited for the third time: in September 2024 the event will be organized here in France, more info will follow in the news chapter.


The helmet I dive with at these events is shown at this years Christmas Card (above), it is a 6 bolt Dutch Army Engineers ‘Pontonniers’ helmet which once belonged to the Army Engineers Unit I served with myself as a Pontonnier (1983-1984). Right after I left the military in 1984 I was lucky to hear about a military surplus auction (MOD Sale) where the old hard hat equipments were being sold. Together with a friend from my Amsterdam diving club I bought 3 large lots. We split up the lots, sold all we did not need ourselves and each of us kept 1 complete set + parts etc. My friend soon sold his set and was happy with the profit he made but I started diving with it which was my start with helmet diving. I dived it at nautical events to entertain the visitors and took it to sports diving clubs to offer their members an interesting experience. After having done this for a couple of years in Holland I moved to France in 1987 and continued this work there. I had a great time there but unfortunately I was attacked and wounded during a robbery (in Spain). I could not walk / work for some time, it was the end of the season and in order to get through winter I was forced to sell my equipment. I agreed with one of the diving clubs I was working with that they would buy the set, pay me some money right away and the rest would follow. But even after returning several times to collect the rest of the money they never paid me and neither wanted to give me back the equipment against the (little) money they had paid me. This club (based in Argeles sur Mer) changed owner since and the owner I had dealt with disappeared, I was told he moved to Spain.


Apart from some scuba diving at air plane wrecks in the IJselmeer (Holland) my active diving career ended there for some time until I heard about copper diving helmets being sold very cheap in Russia, this was shortly after the ‘wall’ had come down. I placed advertisements in Russian news papers asking for diving equipment and soon a fax came in from a man who told me he could supply me with anything I needed. He seemed to be quite reliable but being scared sending a lot over money into Russia, a few weeks later, after having arranged Visa etc. my wife and I we drove with our 1979 Volvo estate to Leningrad to meet with this man. He worked for the Russian Navy and due to his position there he had access to all suppliers of any equipment the navy needed and he was able to buy anything on his own account as well. The voyage to Leningrad and back was quite an adventure, especially because we did it in winter time (stuck on a ferry in the ice, roadblocks by military personel who had decided to demand toll if we wanted to continue our trip, guarded parking places for foreign cars, etc.). But we made it back to Holland all right with 4 brand new and complete standard diving equipments which appeared to be quite easy to sell. This was the start of Davids Import: I started importing diving helmets etc. from Russia. In Leningrad I could only get brand new equipment which was great for diving but collectors and antiques dealers preferred the older stuff. So I kept looking on and later I found several supliers in Ukraine who found me large quantities of older equipment, also rare early models, imported Medi and Dräger helmets, Hagenuks from WW 2 and many DESCO MK 5 helmets which had been shipped to Russia during the second world war. Also, I managed to buy a lot of Russian Diving Manuals, some very old and rare ones. With these and a dictionary I was able to get an idea of what type of helmet was used when and where, these were very interesting times with lots of traveling. Business was done mainly by phone, printed catalogs sent by mail, sometimes by fax but for each helmet I had to drive long distances, most of the time to Poland where at the time Russians and Ukrainians had easy access (before needing Visa etc.). My customers were also back then 'all over the world'. I estimate to have handled some 700 helmets these early years.


In 2017, when I was working on my book project at the archives of Drägerwerk in Lübeck when I got a call from a friend (professional diver) in Holland. He told me that he met a scrap dealer in Gouda, Holland who had a lot of Siebe Gorman equipment for sale. He gave me the phone number but since I was in Lübeck I didn't call right away. After a while, back in (then) Holland, I found back the note with the phone number and called it. The man appeared to be the son of a scrap dealer who had purchased the other lots of Dutch Army Siebe Gorman equipments at the MOD sale in 1984. His father had simply stored them away and ‘forgotten’ about them. The son had taken over the company since a long time and decided (in 2017) to retire and sell everything. Long story short: 33 years after the auction I bought the other lots (Siebe Gorman 6 bolt equipment): 2 trucks full of helmets, pumps, suits, etc. etc etc. I simply resold most of the things but for myself I selected and put aside1 complete set of equipment, just like in 1984. And with this equipment I dive again: in Spain and soon again in France. It feels like some kind of ‘renaissance’.


Best wishes for the new year!


David


Below: some older seasons greetings cards. The davidsimport email address nor the postal address in Holland on some of the cards do no longer exist,


2008_iB
2008_iB
2009-iB
2009-iB
2012-iB
2012-iB
2020-2021_iB
2020-2021_iB
2019-2020iB
2019-2020iB
HappyNewYear
HappyNewYear
2021-22iB
2021-22iB
2018-2019-iB
2018-2019-iB
2017-2018_iB
2017-2018_iB
2017-18iB
2017-18iB
2006-iB
2006-iB
2016-17__iB
2016-17__iB
2015-16_2g_iB
2015-16_2g_iB
2014-2015-iB
2014-2015-iB
2013-2014_iB
2013-2014_iB
2013_B_iB
2013_B_iB
2011-12iB
2011-12iB
2010-2011_iB
2010-2011_iB
2007-iB
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2004-2005iB
2004-2005iB

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