Diamond Tool & Horseshoe Company of Duluth,
Minnesota is a common name in the sport of horseshoe pitching and has been for several decades. Collectors are constantly coming across Diamond shoes, which is evidence that Diamond was a major manufacturer of pitching shoes, dating back as early as 1924.
The company was initially known as Diamond Calk and Horseshoe
Company and founded in 1908 by a Swedish immigrant-Otto Swanstrom.
Swanstrom, once a blacksmith apprentice, learned his trade working
in the lumber camps in the Duluth area.
The first Diamond model was the Official, a hookless shoe. Other
bookless models followed, the Blue Diamond, the rare Black Diamond
and Double Ringer. Yes, initially, the first Double Ringer was a hookless shoe. Fashioned after Putt Mossman's innovative patent, many new models of pitching shoes with small hooks appeared in the early
1930s. Swanstrom also designed a new model, the first shoe with full-sized hooks and lengthwise heel calks. A patent was awarded in March 1932. That design became the Eagle Ringer, a leading seller for four
decades. There are early-day and modern versions of Eagle Ringers,
the older, delights collectors.
The Diamond company was a major contributor to our sport through the manufacturing of pitching supplies and Otto Swanstrom , a major contributor as a promoter of the sport. He was instrumental in organizing the Duluth Horseshoe Pitching Association in 1925, and provided trophies and company manufactured pitching stakes to communities in outlining areas, encouraging new clubs and tournaments. Swanstrom served as state association president and was the driving force for the 1927 World Tournament being held in Duluth, Minnesota. He was later recognized by the NHPA for his involvement and generosity on a national basis.
The Super Ringer, a popular shoe of recreation pitchers yet today, dates back to 1940. This model, too, has an early-day version and a modern day style with smaller calks. Possibly
only the experienced collector can notice the difference.
The Diamond Double Ringer picnic shoe may be the largest selling single model of any brand. It was a line of nearly every catalog sales company and seen on shelves in nearly every hardware store across the country. Because of the overwhelming number of Double Ringers, they are not too popular to collectors, except the very first issue of the hooked version of Double Ringer, they are dated-1945. Those dated shoes are a prized find to any shoe collector.
There are Diamond Junior shoes also. The older bookless models are uncommon and are prized finds. The more recent junior shoes of the 60s and 70s have hooks and are 1-1/2 pounds. There were a limited number of one pound "Midget" shoes made in the 1960s. They are rare and none known to be in collection.
Before Diamond Tool & Horseshoe Company being bought-out and the eventual closure of the famed Duluth plant (1985), two versions of the Diamond Tournament model were produced but are collected as modern day shoes.
All Diamond shoes produced out of the Duluth plant are noted "Duluth." For a period of time, circa 1930, a plant was located in Toronto, Canada, and those shoes are marked Toronto. Just maybe some of our Canadian friends have some of those old hookless beauties to trade with those who have extra hookless Duluth made shoes!
Plans are being set to hold a Horseshoe Trader booth in
Ainsworth, at the 1998 World Tournament. Because of the
outdoor setting, large collection displays will not be on
hand, but considerable information will be available for all
collectors and anyone just interested to talk about old shoes.
Experienced collectors will be hosting each session to
accommodate anyone who has an old pair of shoes they
need identified or some information about. Any member
will be welcome to just stop by and ask questions. Of course,
all collectors are encouraged to bring trading shoes to swap
or to show for bragging rights. Also, those who have shoes to
donate to the NHPA archives, can bring them to the World
Tournament to personally hand to Earl Winston.