Collectors: Here's Your Chance to Expand Your Collection


    This is the first in a new series of The Horsehoe Trader. This series is designed to benefit the avid collectors of pitching shoes, encourage and assist those that wish to start a collection, be of interest to all who may not even be aware that there are antique shoes and help out those who would like to identify an old shoe that they have just been hanging on to. Hopefully this column can bring forward more rare or unusual shoes for our NHPA Hall of Fame archives. There certainly are antique shoes among us and there are many NHPA members always on the look-out for the artifacts of our sport.

The commercial-official pitching shoe probably started with the Ohio Horseshoe Company in 1921. Interest in our sport spread rapidly as the NHPA had just formed and many manufacturers got into the business. George May obtained a patent for his design in 1923 that became the National Standard shoe, not to be confused with the Standard provided by the St. Pierre Company.

Commercial pitching shoes were made by no less than 6 companies in the Chicago area and by the Diamond Horseshoe Company in Duluth. Both Sears and Montgomery Ward were selling horseshoe through their catalogs by 1924. All the shoes in this era were hookless and several were brandless. The first shoes to have hooks were the creation of Putt Mossman and first used in the 1927 World Tournament. Mossman also claimed a patent on his newly designed shoes that were nicknamed “cheaters”, but certainly revolutionized the design of pitching shoes for decades to follow.

    In the 1930s, more companies got involved and many produced both hookless and hooked versions. St. Pierre produced the Leader, hookless model and the T.J. Octigan hooked shoe. The Giant Grip company of OshKosh made the Winner (hookless) and the Giant Grip Official (with hooks). Diamond received a patent in 1931 for their first hooked shoe which became the Eagle Ringer. And there were more, much more.

    All shoe collectors are invited to send your name and address to me. A roster will be developed and provided back to each that register. Those who have shoes available for trade, provide a listing of what brand, model, type etc. you have to offer and what shoes you may be looking for in return. These lists will be presented in our “Horseshoe Trader” series and hopefully generate responses.

    Following is how the information can be provided and is my request for shoes:

WANTED-Giant Grip Winner (hookless), hookless Ohio, and Junior Giant Grip and Ohio shoes. Available for trade - Hookless Diamond Official (straight or curved toe calk), Eagle Ringer, Leader and one pair of Top Ringer.

    A bit more on the unusual–Art Moran, 4490 41st Street, Webster, MN 55088, found an old fashioned flat horseshoe box by the Phoenix Horseshoe Co. Inside the box is a label for pitching shoes with the address of Joliet, IL and Catasauqua, PA. He has never seen a Phoenix shoe but would like to fill the antique box with a set. If anyone knows about the shoes or, better yet, has a set, contact Art directly. He has a large inventory of shoes to make a fair trade.

    Art also is the proud owner of a 1939 Indian 4-cycle motorcycle originally owned by NHPA Hall of Famer Putt Mossman. Mossman used the cycle in his county fair exhibitions, where he shot clay pigeons while he was standing on the cycle seat as the cycle was in motion. Moran could also use a pair of Mossman shoes. Can anyone help him out? Below is a copy of the actual draft from Putt Mossman's application for patent. The patent was approved October 25, 1927. Note how the first hooks were certainly smaller than the models we are accustomed to today!