The Misunderstood shoe


   The Steinbreder shoe is an old fashioned hookless shoe from the 1930's. There are occasional Steinbreder shoes found. While not abundant, after nearly 70 years the shoes are still showing up and cannot be classified as rare. Many collectors in making their first find of a Steinbreder shoe, refer to it as homemade or even primitive. Well, not so. That is the misunderstood part. There is no disputing that the shoe's characteristics are not quite what is normally found in a professionally forged pitching shoe.

   Not only was the Steinbreder shoe commercially produced and successful on the retail market, the shoe was patented. William J. Steinbreder (Pine Lawn, Missouri) applied for patent on August 14, 1930 and received approval on June 6, 1933. The shoe apparently was manufactured by Beehler Steel Products Company of St. Louis, Missouri as the patent was assigned to that corporation.

   What is a bit of a puzzle is why during a time when nearly all manufacturers and design initiatives were aimed at developing hooked model tournaments shoes, Steinbreder was designing a soon to be obsolete hookless shoe. No doubt the focus had been totally on a revised manner of producing a pitching shoe in a less expensive process and then hit the market for big sales and profits by offering a low-priced shoe. In the present day we refer to the inexpensive hardware store line of shoes as picnic shoes. The Steinbreder was the picnic shoe of the hookless shoes.

   The shoe was designed to be produced by taking a regular bar steel and bending the bar into the shape of a horseshoe and then placing the shoe in a jig to bend the tips of the points down into heel calks. The toe calk was a rectangle shape piece riveted into place. This is the only shoe which has a toe calk of all flat sides and square edges. However, the Steinbreder shoe is not the only shoe with bend-around heel calks. There are a couple of other shoes with that feature. One is the original model of the Leader shoe produced by Octigon prior to being acquired by St. Pien-e. The old Leader shoes had an extreme homemade look. Not only were the heel calks stamp pressed into shape, the toe calk was stamped also.

   Somehow the toe calk was formed by scooping out material from the blade and bending it down into place to form the toe calk. Whether primitive looking or not, the shoe had success in the market place, as nearly 70 years later the old model Leaders are still showing up.

   When you see your next Steinbreder shoe, notice there is a slight concave grove across the front of each heel calk. That's by design and is even included in the dialog of his patent. The grove was for the forefinger of the pitching hand. In those days, that was a common and accepted method of a pitching grip. His design even accommodated left-handed pitchers.

For the advanced collector, there are two versions of the Steinbreder shoe needed to achieve collection honor. There are the most common Steinbreders that are brandless but the patent number '1913009' is stamped on the topside of the right blade. And then there are a few Steinbreders showing up that state 'Patent Pending'. So here is a shoe that is not homemade, or blacksmith made, is not a primitive shoe. The shoe is one of the few that received patent approval and had some retail success otherwise we wouldn't be finding them today.

Trader Jottings

  •    This series has continued for five years already. Our roster of collectors and traders has gradually increased since the original list of 18 was typed up. The roster now has 60 collectors. There are still many collectors across the country that have not signed up or made contact with me even though I have made numerous requests over the past years. Recently it hit me, if Newsline is received by 25 of our membership that would explain that 75 of the collectors have never seen a Horseshoe Trader article or any of my invitations. Help out here. If you know of a collector, and they do not subscribe to Newsline and are not aware of our collector group, please put them in touch with me. Bob Dunn 6417 Georgia Ave No, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428