Describe your transition from a 40-year commercial diving career into the maritime literature. Was it a gradual, natural transition or a more sudden business venture?
At 66, I am still working as a saturation diver around the world but primarily in the North Sea. I hail from Melbourne, Australia but the UK has been my home since the 1970’s.
I have always had a love for history, and since starting in the oil industry over 40 years ago, an interest in diving history began and I then started collecting books, prints and artifacts on the subject. Over time the collection developed to a point where in 1990 I started selling duplicates from my collection, and since then it has developed into the business you see on the internet today.
When did you first begin collecting these types of prints and books, and what’s one of your first ones?
I started collecting in the 1970’s and now have prints dating from around the early 1700’s through to the 1950’s and books from the mid 1700’s to the present day. With the book collecting, I have primarily kept that to military, commercial and children’s.
One of the first illustrations I collected was of the Tay Bridge Disaster that happened in Dundee, Scotland, in December 1879 and printed in January 1880.
For books, it was a copy of Deep Diving and Submarine Operations by R. H. Davis of Siebe Gorman. The book was signed by the author to Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb, the famous WWII British diver who was awarded the George Medal for his daring exploits.
How do you feel your business serves the maritime industry as a whole?
From working in the industry and dealing in books and prints for many years, I have built up a network of contacts in both areas and a good reputation. When people associated with the underwater industry are looking for specific items either for reference, to collect or as gifts, I am their obvious contact.
An example of this: The authors of two important publications, The History of Oilfield Diving and Into the Lion’s Mouth have used me as their sole European distributor.
Within your print categories, what are some of your most popular types of items?
One of the most popular types are the romantic ones depicting old hard hat divers fighting sea monsters and finding wrecks or treasure.
Do you and your wife have specific roles or specialties concerning Sub Aqua History Prints, or are you both “jacks of all trades”?
Probably we are both “jacks of all trades”. I have the knowledge and contacts, but when I am away offshore, my wife takes over the helm dealing with all the orders so the business runs smoothly and we continue to give a first class service.
What’s one of the oldest books and prints that Sub Aqua has possessed in its inventory?
One of the oldest prints in stock at the moment is an original copper engraving of Halley’s diving bell dating from 1752. With regards to books, I have a copy of a miniature book about the Royal George shipwreck which sank in 1782. The covers are made from the wood of the ship which was salvaged in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s.
From your diving experience and dealing with commercial divers, would you say that many share an interest in collecting antiquities?
There are quite a few commercial divers who share an interest in collecting, and many would like to have an old standard diving hat sitting in their house. Divers’ collecting habits are quite diverse with some specialising in equipment, others in books on specific areas of diving, whilst some just want prints to hang on their walls.
– Kevin Casey, Co-owner of Sub Aqua History Prints
From its start in the nineties, Sub Aqua History Prints provides original, maritime prints and books dating over a 200-year time span.