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Giant Grip Horseshoe Company

   

   The Giant Grip Manufacturing Company of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is not a well known name to today’s horseshoe pitchers. That is because it is now 50 years since the last Giant Grip shoe was forged out. The name Giant Grip is rather well known to antique shoe collectors however, for the shoes commonly found at flea markets and antique shops. Based on the fact that the shoes may be somewhat scarce, but certainly not rare, there must have been a good market and high production of Giant Grip shoes for these shoes to be showing up 50 years or more later.

   The Giant Grip Company was founded in 1863 by C. W. George Everhart and was one of the major producers of shoes and calks for horse ware. Giant Grip products and horseshoes were sold worldwide. As the automobile and farm tractors lessened the need for horses, Giant Grip got into the pitching shoe market. Just exactly when they produced their first pitching shoe is not known. The earliest advertising appeared as a mil-page ad in the March 1934 Horseshoe World. By that time they were producing three different models.

The first Giant Grip shoe was a bookless model named the Winner. If found in fair condition, the Winner is a beautiful antique shoe. The second model Giant Grip fashioned was a hooked or tournament shoe, simply called Official. As most big-time shoe manufacturers were always trying to capture more market share by advertising a new or improved model-hence the Giant Grip Champion.

The Thomas Registry of American Manufacturers first lists Giant Grip as a pitching shoe produced in 1938 although the company was listed in 1936 by the NHPA as a sanctioned shoe. Then World War II interrupted production of Giant Grip pitching shoes, as it did with all companies making horseshoes. The Giant Grip company converted their production lines to producing metal parachute parts and other war-time materials for the armed forces, receiving national recognition and honors for their efforts.

A few ads in 1939 and 1940 mentioned a Juvenile model. The model was never pictured and as far as anyone knew, no junior Giant Grip shoes were every found. That is until this year.
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Lee Wallace came up with a pair of 1 1/2 pound Giant Grip Juvenile shoes, the only ones known to be in collection. The shoes are the spitting image of the Giant Grip Official, just a bit smaller. It is a little to ask, but why Juvenile? Why didn’t they call the lighter shoes Junior model as all the other companies had? Anyhow, the hunt is surely on now to see if some more of the Juvenile shoe can be uncovered.

   One more collection oddity of Giant Grip line is old-fashioned wooden shoe boxes. Back in the 1920s and 1930s many producers would sell horseshoe pitching sets (4 shoes) lined side by side, with two stakes, all packaged in a wooden carry case. A few of the old Giant Grip boxes are in collections and certainly make special displays when the original shoes and stakes are all in tack.

   The Giant Grip shoe found its end of the line in 1949 as the company, family owned since 1863, was sold and the pitching shoe manufacturing was discontinued.


TRADER JOTTINGS


  • Lee Wallace, one of our most active collectors, sent in this note: As a representative of the Horseshoe Collectors–Traders group at Greenville, Ohio, I wish to thank all those who stopped by to visit, and especially those who brought shoes to show and for identification. Some brought in uncommon shoes just to let us know of their existence. We were most pleased to discover new shoes we have never heard of before. Pictures were taken of several models for our files. We gained more members also. Our main goal is still to stop the loss of collectible shoes to recycling or land fill dumps and to make folks aware of the collectible shoes they may have. Judging from the 1999 response at the World Tournament, we’re doing a credible job of reaching people. Many thanks to Cay Newhouse for his excellent display of shoes; also to Paul Stewart for providing us with the Ultimate, a non-sanctioned horseshoe, but a real attention getter.

  • Thank you to Bernard J. Mullady, Belleville, NJ, for donating a pair of Giant Grip Winner shoes to the NHPA collection. The shoes are 60 years old and in great condition, but few can view these shoes until the construction of the NHPA Hall of Fame museum is completed. Mail your cash donation to the NHPA today.
  • There are many shoe collectors in the NHPA that have not signed up for our Collectors and Traders roster. It is simple to do, it costs nothing to join, just send a letter to Bob Dunn, address on page three. By joining, you can receive considerable information that will enhance your collection and opportunity to communicate with other collectors.