The Queen City Forging Company of Cincinnati, Ohio has been producing Gordon horseshoes since 1932. The company originated in 1881 as a producer of carriage and buggy parts. The company has 26 employees and manufactures 2-4 runs of horseshoes annually. They also manufacture the Cordon "Spin-On" Standard shoe in medium, dead soft and hard temper; the Cordon Gold; and the Multi-Grip horseshoe, the newest edition to the Cordon line, is designed for flip and turn pitchers. All shoes are produced by hot forging with grinding, polishing match weighing, painting and packing done by hand.
In the late 1800s, Cincinnati was the center of the buggy and carriage industry west of the Allegheny Mountains. Sometime before 1880, James Williams and Oliver Walker started their business, Williams Walker & Co., to supply the carriage building industry with the hardware needed in the construction of horse-drawn vehicles.
During 1881, the business grew beyond the scope of the original proprietorship. In that year, Williams, Walker & Co. was replaced by a new corporation, the Queen City Business Co. The company's focus during the late 19th and 20th century was primarily carriage hardware with some attention given to custom drop forging.
The early 20th century saw the beginning of the automobile industry. At the outset, the "horseless" carriage was exactly that, and some companies in the carriage and buggy business built early models based on the vehicles they already produced. Queen City Forging was no exception. Around 1908, several vehicles were built, named the "Carrico," which mounted an internal combustion engine under the seat of a wagon. It was clear from the start, however, that the company did not have the abilities to continue in this endeavor.
As the automobile industry replaced the carriage industry, the company realized it had to enlarge the scope of its manufacturing. In 1931, John Cordon asked the Queen City
Forging Co. to produce a pitching horseshoe for him. John Gordon was a champion pitcher who had filed a patent for his design of a shoe and believed he could successfully market them. The company agreed to participate and began production of the Gordon "Spin-On" horseshoe. Following Gordon's lead, other champion pitchers have won tournaments with the Cordon horseshoe, including Ted Allen.
The 1933 ad copied from a Horseshoe World magazine (above), shows a young Ted Allen endorsing the new Gordon shoe. Note the small hooks of this model. The Gordon shoe did not develop full sized hooks until 1935. A reduced view of the actual patent by John Gordon is also presented.
While there was generally one model of Gordon shoes in any given year, the Gordon is a great line to challenge the collector. From 1931 (the first model) through 1936, the shoe was redesigned each year. There are many years that Gordons were dated, so a tremendous amount of display space can be dedicated to this one brand.
To learn more about Cordon horseshoes or the Queen City Forging Co., you can visit their website at www.qcforge.com. or use e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several members (non-collectors) have made inquiries about old shoes they have. Most have included photos of the shoe in question. In all cases so far, the shoes have been identified and a bit of additional information mailed back. Some of these shoes have been made available to our collectors as well as offers to the NHPA Hall of Fame collection. If you want information about an old shoe, write in! Shoes make a fair copy off a photocopy machine, just be careful placing the shoe on the glass.