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CATCHER'S MASK
DATING GUIDE

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Reference

1907 Reach Patent Elastic Head Strap
1907 Reach Ptent for Elstic head strap
Google Patents

1911 D & M Electric Weld Steel Wire Catcher's Mask
1911 D & M Electric Weld Mask
Draper & Maynard, 1911 Baseball Catalog

Vintage Catchers Mask Dating Guide 
1900-1909 CATCHER'S MASK DATING GUIDE
  Just like the Catchers masks of the 1800's Looped & Clipped steel wire is used to build the frame.  The bright steel & "Gun Metal" is being coated with black enamel. Elastic head bands and sunshades are introduced into the market. Forehead pads are starting to replace straps at the very end of the decade  
Visual Glossary
1890-1910's Catchers Mask with Neck protector   Parts of a Catchers Mask 1900-1909  1900's -1910's catchers mask with Sun-Shade 
1890-1910's Loop & Clip, Goggle Eye Catchers Mask with Neck Protector 1907-1910s Goggles "Spiderman" style catchers mask with elastic strap 1900's -1910's Catcher's Mask
with Sun-Shade

  The Dating of a catcher's mask could prove to be a difficult task. Construction styles and features could have been used for many years after they were introduced. For example the Catcher's Mask with the neck protector pictured above left was sold from about 1890 into the 1910's. There are only slight differences between some years. Imported Dogskin was used to house the padding when this masked first hit the market. Other material used for the padding might date the mask to a later date. This model was also sold with a sunshade, but was not available with this model before 1907. Masks with bright steel wires (below center left) were sold before the black enameled wire was offered in 1896, to cut down on glare, but the bright steel wire masks were still available afterwards.  
Catchers mask with Loop & Clip construction 1900-1920s Catchers Masks 1912 Wide Sight catchers Mask
Loop & Clip Construction "Goggle Eye" catchers mask L: Bright Steel loop & Clip Goggle Eye
R: Black Enamel Elec. Weld Wide Sight
"Wide Sight" eye space  starts replacing Goggle eyes in 1912
    These are the type of things to look for when dating a mask. Elastic head straps were not available until 1907. The construction methods are another tool for dating a mask. The loop & clip construction pictured above left, was used throughout the 1800's and 1900's. Starting in 1911 Electric weld was used to construct the masks (Above center, right) Electric weld masks cannot date before 1911 but the loop & clip method was still used into the early 1920's. If you have a Loop & clip mask with an elastic head strap it was made in 1907 or later. Full length face pads that wrap around across the forehead, like the padding on the mask center right, was patented in 1906 and starts to replace the simple side pads towards the end of the decade.

 Basically the main features with masks dated to the 1900-1909 manufacturing period are; Goggles or "Spiderman" eye space, Loop & Clip construction, elastic straps are used with the head strap in 1907 and after. You will find little change in design from the 1890s, just a larger variety.

 Because it is easier to date a mask to the era when a feature was available I have listed a timeline below. You might be able to use unique features on your mask that overlap other features to narrow down the date. I have also included catalog images so you can match styles and construction characteristics like a fingerprint.
 
Catchers Mask Timeline
  • 1877 Spalding introduces the first retail Catcher's mask
  • 1891 Spalding introduces a Patented Molded Leather "Sunshade"
  • 1907 Reach introduces Elastic Head Straps
  • 1911 D&M introduces Electric Welded steel wire construction
  • 1912 Reach introduces "Wide Sight" frame construction Spalding
  • 1914 Reach introduces "The Spitter" hole
1900-1909 Catchers Mask Catalog Samples & Patents
 
1901 Spalding Catchers Mask ad  1904 Reach Catchers Masks  1905 Victor 1909 Samson Catchers Masks  1908 Spalding Catchers Masks 
1901 Spalding's Athletic Library Guide 1904 Reach's Official 
Base Ball Guide
1905 Victor 1909 Samson Catcher's Masks 1908 Spalding's Official 
Base Ball Guide
       
1907 Spalding Catchers Mask 1907 Spalding Catchers Masks 1908 Reach Catcher's Masks 1908 Reach Catcher's Masks
1907 Spalding's Official 
Base Ball Guide
1907 Spalding's Official 
Base Ball Guide
1908 Reach's Official
Baseball Guide
1908 Reach's Official
Baseball Guide
       
1904 Catchers mask Patent  1904 Catchers Mask Patent  1908 Catchers Mask Patent  1909 Catchers Mask Patent  
1904 Catchers Mask Patent
Hands Free mask adjustment
1904 Catchers Mask Patent full length face pads 1908 Catchers Mask Patent  Adjustable Sun-Shade 1909 Catchers Mask Patent Construction Method
 
 
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