A few years ago, a drastic fire destroyed much of the Ohio Horseshoe Company property and all of its history files and documentation. But this company, with such a vast history, will never lose its historic identity. The pictured ads that have been recovered from old Horseshoe World magazines, and other research can tell quite a story and recreate much of the history of the Ohio Horseshoe Company.
The Ohio Horseshoe Company Columbus, Ohio, was the first major commercial manufacturer of pitching style shoes. This is confirmed by the Thomas Directory of American Manufacturers and states the initial year of production as 1921. This matches the initial year as stated in early-day advertisements by Ohio in the Horseshoe World magazines during the 1920s and 1930s. The company was first located at 756 Parsons Ave., Columbus, Ohio.
In 1921, the state of Ohio was a horseshoe pitching hot-bed. The NHPA had just formed and was headquartered in Akron. There were world champion pitchers from Ohio as well as several contenders. One of the world champions was Fred Brust of Columbus. There is some folklore about a dispute between Brust and another world champion, George May of Akron. There seemed to be a question of how the Ohio shoe design came about and who designed it. Well, history has some documented facts on this matter. George May did draft a design for a pitching shoe. He even received a patent for that design. That patent went on to become the National Standard brand.
Fred Brust went on to be the founder and owner of the Ohio Horseshoe Company, Which is documented by an ad in the
1930 Horseshoe World.
This ad is the only known documentation that ties Burst to the Ohio Horseshoe Company.
The earliest pictured ad in my file was copied from a Horseshoe World dated 1927. There are no doubt earlier ads, but I have not found any yet. Small pictured ads were located in The Farmer magazines in 1923 and 1924, indicating the Ohio Horseshoe Company initially developed marketing ties to rural America.
Of course, the first Ohio shoes were hookless as were all other brands of that era. From the very start, Ohio shoes had some uniqueness from the many other manufacturers that closely followed into the new industry-Ohio shoes were dated. This is a factor that truly broadens the scope of collectibility for today's shoe collectors. It can be confirmed as early as 1927, that Ohio presented Junior shoes also. Not all companies of the day were manufacturing the smaller Junior pitching shoes.
According to a 1927 ad, the Ohio company had relocated to 866 Parson Ave. No change in their model design took place until late in 1930 when their first shoe with hooks appeared. The Ohio model definitely was a take-off of the
Mossman shoe, even if it was designed three years after the initial Mossman. In 1932, a new, improved model was designed with hooks more in style of today's tournament shoes. However, the hooks still were small by today's standards. Minor design adjustments occurred each year from 1931-1935. The 1934 model produced an Ohio with a double ringer breaker, an innovation that stood throughout all the decades, right to the present day.
By 1936, full-sized hooks were designed and from there on the shoe did not change much until 1969 and the arrival of the Ohio "PRO." That is, with a couple of exceptions. In 1937, a Jackson model was designed, named after the many time world champion, Frank Jackson. This is a little known model by Ohio and possibly was manufactured only for the single year. It is the only Ohio model that had a large inverted ringer breaker and hooks similar to today's
Diamond Double Ringers. This model surely would be a prize find for any collection.
Also in 1953, Ohio struck a deal with Fernando Isais to pitch their shoes. The design of the 1953 shoes were unchanged but marked Isais Model on the top side. That too was short lived and lasted for just one year, but leaves that extra special shoe for hunters to look for.
There is no record of how many thousands of pairs of Ohio shoes have been sold and pitched, but we know that Ohio has exited during eight decades. With the uniqueness of dating their shoes for the first five decades and the variety of early-day models, makes Ohio shoes a fascinating and specialty line for collectors. Because of the fabulous pictured ads in the Horseshoe World, we have a permanent record of the Ohio Horseshoe Company.
A file is being developed to document more information about the early-day shoes of our sport. At present, there are no ads prior to 1927 from Horseshoe World magazines. Surely there must be someone who has a Horseshoe World from the early 1920s and can photocopy an Ohio ad. In fact, the only ads in file from Horseshoe World, prior to 1927 are Lucky Ringer and National Standard from a 1922 issue. If you copy any ads, please note the date by the ad. I certainly would appreciate your effort.
There has been another new (old) find by one of our collectors-Cay Newhouse Jr. of Sterling Heights, MI, picked up an early-day bookless Saginaw Malleable shoe. Prior, we had no knowledge that such a brand ever existed.
Our Horseshoe Trader sessions at the World Tournament in Ainsworth, did not get started as planned and hoped for. Some arrangements for coverage fell short during the first week. Our apologies to those who brought in shoes or had questions, and there were no sessions held. When the sessions started, mainly due to the arrival and efforts of Lee Wallace (OR), they were fantastic. Several new collectors joined up. Efforts to successfully plan a schedule of Trader sessions at the 1999 W.T. will be attempted again.