National Standard Shoes


   One of the most well-known and historic early–day horseshoes is National Standard. National Standard certainly was one of the very first commercially manufactured pitching shoes and in the initial years of the sport, was the elite pitching shoe. For many young pitchers, National Standard was the first official shoe of their careers.    By most records, the National Standard Horseshoe Company of Akron, Ohio, began manufacturing pitching shoes as early as 1922. This is supported by a pictured ad found in a 1922 Horseshoe World found in a 1922 Horseshoe World magazine. Research for this writing indicates forerunner to the National Standard shoe, which was sold by William Weis, then president of the newly formed NHPA. The Weis shoe was advertised in 1920 as meeting all national standards. No doubt that is how the shoe came about to be named. There is a newspaper clipping and picture of Hughie Palmer (Ohio) in July 1919, picturing commercially manufactured shoes that resemble the National Standard shoe, so there is some evidence that National Standard can be traced back to 1919. Somehow Weis teamed up with former world champion George May also ofAkron. May applied for a patent on November 9, 1921 and that patent was granted April 24, 1923. National Standard is one of the few shoes that received patent protection. All the early-day National Standard ads boast of the George May designed pitching shoe. So there are the initial National Standard shoes that have a lone ’W’ on the underside of the toe/ which no doubt represents Weis/ some that state ’Pat. Applied For’ and some that display date of the patent approval/ some that note a 1924 manufacture date, all noted under the underside of the toe.

   These shoes were all manufactured in Akron, which was part of the logo forged in raised lettering on the toe. The National Standard Horseshoe Company is also a line of forged printing on the toe. The printing was of slightly raised lettering and fairly small print, so it took very little use and wear to make the printing illegible. National Standard shoes are still rather easy to identify even if the printing can't be read. In most cases the printing under the toe is legible and that is enough right there. Do clean new finds carefully and fully, as occasionally National Standard shoes are found the bear the date production or at least the date that the mold was made. Often the printing is faint but can be read and over zealous brushing and cleaning could reduce what print there may be to a point of illegibility.

   National Standard shoes were sold through the mail order catalogs of both Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Wards. Although Sears was the first catalog to sell horseshoes, National Standard did not appear in that catalog until 1928 and then for only for two years. Montgomery Wards sold National Standard shoe in 1925 through 1929. In 1927, production of the National Standard shoe moved to Canton, Ohio and American Forge & Machine Company became the new manufacturer. Those shoes still had the National Standard brand name, but Canton, Ohio and a capital A in a circle became part of the logo on the topside of the toe. The size of print was also greatly enlarged at this point, so the raised lettering is generally better preserved and remains more legible. The American Forge made shoes continued through 1934, when the shoe phased out due to the popularity of the many hooked shoes that were now on the market.

   There are folklore tales of feuding between George May of the National Standard Horseshoe Company and another of Ohio's world champions/ Fred Brust, founder of the Ohio Horseshoe Company. Certainly there must have been intense competition between the two Ohio based manufacturers. Horseshoe pitching was on the boom in growth and the market ripe for sales. The stories are that Brust somehow pirated May's idea and shoe draft for commercially manufacturing the pitching, but it is generally accepted that Ohio Horseshoe Company began production for national sales a full year prior to that of the National Standard shoe. But if National Standard emerged from the Weis shoe, then there is room for doubt of who actually was first.

   At first thought. National Standard shoe is a one-model shoe, but not so. While there is basically one design, the variations through the different logos, and stages and sites of manufacturing allow for several National Standard shoes to grace one's collection.

Trader Jottings

  • Another annual mailing has just been completed and sent out to the horseshoes collectors. This year's mailing included a letter reviewing some of the interesting finds of the past year, copies of several older rules brochures dated from 1924 to the late 1930’s, photocopies of some of the past year's rare or unusual finds, a quiz and some inventories of individual collections. The mailing is forwarded to those collectors that have registered and are on our roster. The roster of collectors ranges from coast to coast and now has 59 members. There are many collectors across the country that have not signed up yet. If you are new to the hobby, have an interest to start collecting horseshoe, or have been collecting for years, it doesn't matter, contact Bob Dunn, 6417 Georgia Ave No, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428, to be added to the roster of the Horseshoe Traders/Collectors.
  • On November 30th, my horseshoe collection was featured in an antique program on the national Home & Garden Network (HGTV). The filming was done last June, with four hours of filming edited down for a 3-minute viewing. This notice will reach you after the date of initial showing, but it will be replayed several times over the winter months. The program is called “Collectibles Treasures” and you should be able to contact your local cable company to confirm the times that program #1008 will be rerun.