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CATCHER'S MASK
DATING GUIDE

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Reference

1921 James Johnstone Patent
One Piece Frame
1921 Catchers Mask Patent  
Google Patents

1922 Goldsmith light metal
one piece Catcher's Mask
1922 Goldsmith Catchers Mask Patent  
Google Patents

Vintage Catchers Mask Dating Guide 
1920-1929 CATCHER'S MASK DATING GUIDE
  The one piece constructed frame with the padding strapped to the frame makes an appearance but does not catch on fully until the 1940s. The electric weld Steel Wire still dominates the market and truss construction is becoming more popular. Open vision masks are quickly replacing the "Spiderman" masks. The modern style multi-thick wire, and one piece frame catchers masks begin their development  
Visual Glossary
1916 catchers mask develpments   Parts of a Catchers Mask   1920s Light Metal one piece 2 bar Catchers Mask 
1916 Mask developments - Spitter, Elec. Weld, truss & double wire 1916-1920s Electric Weld catchers mask with Diamond Spitter 1920s "Light Metal Composition
one piece frame Catchers Mask

  The Dating of a catcher's mask could prove to be a difficult task. Construction styles, models, or features could have been used for many years after they were introduced. In some cases you could positively date a mask to after a feature was first introduced but you might have to settle on dating it to a longer era of use. Generalized, such as the mask in the Visual Glossary above, that is dated approximately to 1916-1920's. It cannot be made before 1911 because it's has an electric weld frame, and it cannot be earlier than 1914 the year the Spitter was introduced. However these features along with the "full length face pads, and the truss style construction can still carry it over into and through the 1920's. Based on matching the framework to catalog ads I believe that the mask is closer to the late 1910's to the early 1920's rather than mid to late 1920's.  
"V" Style forehead Wire Construction 1924 light metal one piece catchers mask "U" Style Forehead wire construction
"V" Style Forehead 1924 Light Metal one piece frame Catchers Mask & Patent "U" Style Forehead
    These are the type of things to look for when dating a mask. The construction methods are a great tool for dating a mask. The loop & clip construction still lingers into the 1920s but the electric weld masks dominate. The development of a one piece "Light Metal" catchers masks begins in 1921 with an aluminum mask patented by Umpire James E Johnstone. (pictured below left column) Two other patents follow in 1922 (below left column) & 1924 (above center). The intention is to make the mask lighter, and reduce construction time and cost. Although this design continues to be developed into the 1970s the Wire mesh construction still remains to this day, the most popular.

 The "Wide Sight" and Truss constructed masks introduced around 1916 become more common and continue development throughout the 1920's thanks to the electric weld construction made available in 1911. Full length "Adjustable" face padding laced to the frame is now becoming the norm. Frames with extended wire ear protection are also becoming more common. The majority of 1920s Mask designs now have Spitters.

 Basically the main features with masks dated to the 1920-1929 manufacturing period are; Wide Sight, Electric weld frames and the use of full length padding. Like the decade before, chin padding becomes more common but "Molded" chin straps or pads ( a strip of leather) still dominate. The Truss constructed "V" shape above the eyes is most commonly used in 1920s mask construction. Some time around 1925 the "U" shape is used and becomes more common towards and into the 1930's. You will also notice more use of lacing to secure the face pads.

 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
  • 1911 D&M introduces Electric Welded steel wire construction.
  • 1912 Reach introduces "Wide Sight" frame construction.
  • 1914 Reach introduces "The Spitter" hole
  • 1914 The first use of chin padding that slowly replaces chin support straps.
  • 1916 Spalding starts to use Truss Support, and double wire construction.
  • 1921 Aluminum one piece frame is patented by umpire James E. Johnstone.
1920-1929 Catchers Mask Catalog Samples & Ads
 
1920 D&M 1922 Goldsmith Catchers Masks  1921 Reach Catchers Masks  1922 Spalding Catchers Mask  1924 Reach Catchers Masks 
1920 D&M 1922 Goldsmith
Catchers Masks
1921 Reach's Official
Base Ball Guide
1922 Spalding's Official
Base Ball Guide
1918 Simmon's
Catalog Advertising
1925 Rawlings and Reach Catchers Masks 1927 Reach Catchers Masks 1928 Ken-Wel, D&M, and Reach Catchers Masks  1928 Reach Catchers Masks
1925 Rawlings & Reach
Catchers Masks
1927 Reach
Catchers Masks
1928 Ken-Wel D&M Reach
Catchers Masks
1928 Reach
Catalog ads
 
 
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