The Old Gentleman of Raahe – Oldest Surviving Diving Suit in the World

The Old Gentleman of Raahe or “Wanha Herra” is an 18th-century cowskin diving suit. It’s propably the oldest surviving diving suit in the world.

See the oldest diving suit

The most popular artefact is the Old Gentleman which is considered the oldest diving suit in the world. It was donated to the museum by an experienced merchant and ship owner. The suit is made from calfskin and dates to the 18th century, but its place of origin is unknown. The suit was used for short underwater work, like inspecting the bottom of ships and localizing fish.

In 1988, a Raahe Museum employee made a copy of the Old Gentleman using the same materials and techniques used in the 18th century. When the suit was ready, it was immersed in water and it turned out to be perfectly waterproof. The original suit was borrowed several times to foreign exhibitions, but this practice stopped to avoid damage during transportation.

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