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A Bit About the Rare Ones

   

   Several articles in this series have profiled major horseshoe manufacturers and especially those that made multiple models of pitching shoes. There is the other end of the spectrum, which too is interesting-the smaller or short-lived companies that made just a single model-the rare ones.

   The first uncommon shoe that always comes to mind, is the Lucky Ringer. What a fabulous name for a horseshoe. none are known to be in collection, including our NHPA archives. In fact, I have never talked to anyone who has claimed to see one, let alone heard of the shoe. The shoe is authentic, for a 1922 Horseshoe World contained an advertisement by the Lucky Shoe Horseshoe Company of St. Louis, MO. There were only three known commercial manufacturers of pitching shoes in 1922-National Standard, Ohio and Lucky Ringers. In a 1972 MGSHPA Ringer Digest interview with Clint Lofgren, one of the founding members of the famed Minneapolis Horseshoe Club, he spoke of pitching Lucky Ringers as a youth. In fact, he pitched Lucky Ringers in winning the University of Minnesota horseshoe pitching championship in 1926. This, too, has been researched, and indeed, from 1924-1932, there were student horseshoe leagues on the U of M campus. It sure would be great if someone out there had a pair of these historic shoes and would let us know.

   Another rare shoe was designed and patented in 1933 by W.J. Steinbreder of St. Louis, MO. There are now three of these unique bookless shoes in collection, one being in our NHPA collection. This shoe is novel for being brandless and being one of only three shoes that displayed its patent number. The National Standard and Mossman being the other two. The Steinbreder shoe is also unique for the toe calk is not a shaped piece of the shoe, but is a separate piece riveted into place. Steinbreder was a bit slow on the draw, for his design and patent for a hookless shoe came two years after several big producers were selling the tournament or hooked-style shoe, making the market for a newly improved hookless shoe a bit obsolete. Sales probably were not good, which could explain why few Steinbreder shoes are now found.

   The Smith Stay-On is another patented shoe that has avoided the searchful eyes of serious shoe collectors. The patent by J.B. Smith ofLaGrande, Oregon, was granted April 17, 1934 and the shoe advertised as early as January of 1932 in the Western States Horseshoe Pitchers Journal. This shoe was one of the first to feature a full-sized hook and a large inverted ringer break. It is unknown if these shoes were ever on the market or actually used by pitchers. One thing is for sure, none are showing up in collections.

   Even though the Mossman has been mentioned a number of times before, this shoe must always be included when talking about rare ones. The Mossman shoe is more historic than rare, but nevertheless, is probably the most sought after shoe by collectors. About one in five collections boast a pair of Mossmans, and two pair are included in our NHPA collection. Putt Mossman, a former World Champion, received a patent in 1928 for his design of the first pitching shoe with hooks. The distinctive hooks were more of a button than a hook, but nevertheless began the most major of change in pitching shoe design. The Mossman was first available for sale at the 1927 World Tournament. One of the initial buyers was C.C. Davis, who went on to win that World championship with them.

   The Indiana Forge & Machine Company of Indiana Harbor, Indiana, produced pitching shoes in the early 1930s. At that time, the shoes were a hookless model with the brand name, rather logical, Indiana pitching shoes. A full-page ad appeared in the January 1931 issue of Horseshoe World. It is not known just how long this brand was manufactured, but about seven or eight years ago I noticed a pitcher using a pair of Indiana picnic shoes in a local tournament. He wouldn’t sell or trade them. I have not seen another Indiana shoe since, let alone a hookless model. This brand should not be so rare, but they certainly are elusive, as none are reported in the collection.

One shoe design that was advanced for its era, was the Isaacs Air-Flow. This air resistant shoe design by Wm. D. Frazier of Hamilton, Ohio, received a patent in May, 1937. The shoe was first advertised in Horseshoe World in 1935 by W.L. Isaacs. The truly aerodynamic style might have suggested that this shoe should have been a big seller, but that must not be the case, for no Isaacs Air-Flows are reported in collection.

   A real mystery still continues in the search .of the United Engineering Company of Louisville, Kentucky, which is listed in manufacturing directories from 1931 through 1938, as producer of pitching shoes. No shoe has turned up bearing this company’s name or any ad that makes any link to this manufacturer. Someday information will turn up, but in the meantime, anyone in the Louisville area with any knowledge of this shoe would certainly be helpful by providing that information.

   Other than a pair of C.C. Davis’ shoes in our NHPA collection, there are no others reported. C.C. Davis was one of several former World champions who got involved in shoe design and shoe production and promotion. The hook style shoe was first introduced in 1933, being produced in Kansas, MO.

   There are many shoes to be described as the rare ones, more than we ever imagine. One more has to be included inthis article and others can be covered in the next issue. The Warren shoe has been mentioned before, in fact, a 1924 ad was featured. Horseshoe pitchers living in the Warren, Ohio area were rather surprised, for they had no idea that their hometown had long ago produced a bookless pitching shoe. An energetic search took place for some of the old treasures or any related information. So far, no shoes or information has turned up and no Warren shoes are reported in collection.

TRADER JOTTINGS


  • There are many old shoes hanging around in strange places and old sheds. Some of these shoes may fit well in our NHPA collection or possibly could be made available to our antique shoe collectors. If you have some old shoes and wish to part with them, please get in touch. If you have some old shoes and can’t identify them, and wish to just ask some questions, feel free to get in touch.
  • There are other horseshoe items that would display well in our NHPA Hall of Fame archives: Old style horseshoe boxes show up now and then. The initial boxes were long and the shoes lay side by side with a pair of stakes also included. Early-day advertising brochures also are great collectibles. Generally these brochures were included with the sale of a pair or set of horseshoes. These little booklets contain a lot of helpful information in learning more about old shoes and usually are dated. Please get in touch if you can make a donation to our archives.

THE THRILL OF THE HUNT


by Bob Dunn

The other day while snooping through an antique shop, I found a pile of horseshoes-bought the whole darn lot. Of the bunch there was one I’d never seen, Couldn’t wait to get home to get it clean. This hookless shoe was not forged, it was not cast, It appeared to be homemade by a blacksmith past. This shoe was as unusual as I had ever found, The toe calk was riveted, the heels just bent around. But lo and behold, a stamped in patent number, A trip to the library would solve my wonder. It seems Steinbreder patented this shoe in ’33 And a number were produced out of St. Louis, Missouri. What was a great rare $6.00 surprise, Has now been added to my collection-a mighty fine prize.