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1907 Reach Patent
Elastic Head Strap
1907 Reach Ptent for Elstic head strap
Made with Loop & Clip Construction

1911 D & M Electric Weld Steel Wire Catcher's Mask
1911 D & M Electric Weld Mask

Google Eye AKA
"Spiderman" eye space
"V" Style forehead Wire Construction
"V" Style Forehead
Truss construction

"Wide Vision"
"U" Style Forehead
"U" Style Forehead wire construction
Truss Construction
with a Diamond Spitter 

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Baseball Collectibles
and Memorabilia
 KeyMan Collectibles  NEWSLETTER April 2016  
The Evolution of Features & Design used to Date a
 Steven KeyMan
Steven KeyMan
 Catchers Mask - By Steven KeyMan
Founder of Keymancollectibles.com, and a long time collector, Steven KeyMan has more than 30 years of experience in researching, and cataloging information on Baseball Memorabilia. First used for his own personal collection, and then by helping others find information on their collectibles, the website grew into the largest online resource for baseball memorabilia
 

   Ask Steven: Direct your questions or feedback, about Baseball Memorabilia to Steven KeyMan Steve@keymancollectibles.com You can also Send KeyMan pictures of your personal Memorabilia Display, and get your own Free  Collectors Showcase Room featured on the website..   
 
   Modeled after a fencing mask in 1876, Fred Thayer commissioned a local tinsmith to create the first catchers mask. Resembling a birdcage the mask worn by Thayer on April 12th, 1877, was the first to be used in a professional baseball game. Fred Thayer was granted a patent on the mask in 1878, and wouldFred Thayer catchers mask patent officially mark the evolution of catchers mask design.

The first retail catchers mask was made available by Spalding in 1877. In a 1880 advertisement, Spalding warns catchers not to trust their face to a cheaply made mask. "..liable to disfigure a player for life." Spalding's No.0 catchers mask was made with "Extra heavy wire, well padded with goathair and the padding faced with the best imported dogskin, (yes, Dogskin) which is Impervious to perspiration and retains it's pliability and softness." Three Grades were manufactured. Professional, Amature, and a Boys model.

Spalding's Trade-Marked Catcher's MaskThe Dating of a catcher's mask could prove to be a difficult task. Construction styles, materials, and features could have been used for many years after they were first introduced. Loop & clip construction was used throughout the 1880's and 1900's. Starting in 1911 electric weld construction was introduced but the loop & clip method was still used into the early 1920's. Features are not replaced over night, most are gradually phased out.
 
    There were many experiments with catcher's mask design in the early1904 patent Base Ball Catcher gear 1900's. Some did not catch on like this 1904 patented "baseball catcher" - You don't need a catcher's mitt or a mask with this nifty invention and you could probably use it to go crabbing after the game. !! The chest cage was designed for the ball to go through the gates in the front, and stopped by the springs in the back of the cage. The ball came out the bottom, and had a wire mesh extension to protect the catchers face.

 However, many innovative designs did catch on and are still being used today. In 1907 Reach introduced the elastic head straps. Before this time, all leather or and canvas was used. "The Spitter" hole was introduced in 1914, and shortly after the use of truss support & double wire construction. Umpire James E. Johnstone, patented a one piece aluminum frame in 1921, and another in 1924. The intention was to make the mask lighter, and reduce construction time and cost. The one piece cast (magnesium) frames did not start to catch on until the 1940s, and became more common in the 1950s.  
 
  1924 Light Metal one piece frame Catchers Mask & Patent   
    Early masks were designed with a "molded" chin rest that consisted of a simple piece of leather. It was not until about 1914 when chin pads filled with horse hair hit the market. By the 1920's full length "Adjustable" face padding laced to the frame is now becoming the norm. Previous to the use of lacing, One piece Magnisium frame lace paddingwire was used to secure the pads to the frame. Padding laced to the frame, will carry over into the 1950's until manufactures start to use snap on pads.

The 1940's carry on with the mask designs from the 1930's with double and triple carbon steel wire, truss construction frames, but made broader. Both the heavy wire, and one piece cast frames, feature two eye bars for "Open" or "Clear Vision." A single bar going across the face, and the other at the forehead. The "Google Eye" AKA "Spiderman" eye space was left behind in the 1920's, although they do occasionally show up in the market until 1942, mostly used with "Boy's models"
 
     
  Catchers Mask Features & Designs Visual Glossary  
 
Parts of a Catchers Mask Parts of a Catchers Mask 1950's visual Glossary
Circa 1890-1910s
Goggle Eye or "Spiderman" style catchers mask
1916-1920s Electric Weld catchers mask with Diamond Spitter 1950's One Piece Cast Magnesium catchers mask with Snap-On Padding
 
     
  For more information visit the Vintage Catchers Mask Dating Guide. This guide features a timeline and a decade by decade guide for dating your vintage catchers mask. The guide includes catalog images so you can match styles and construction characteristics like a fingerprint.  
     
  KEYMAN COLLECTIBLES RELATED RESOURCES  
   
 
  Vintage Catcher's Mask Dating Guide  
     
  KeyMan Collectibles Collectors Corner - Keep up with the latest collecting news, announcements, and articles of interest on the webs best resource for baseball memorabilia.  
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  KeyMan Collectibles Baseball Memorabilia Facebook Group - Post Questions and comments relating to Baseball Collectibles and Memorabilia. Interact with other collectors or show off your collection.  
  KeyMan Collectibles Network54 Forum - A great option for those that "Don't do facebook"  Post Questions and comments relating to Baseball Collectibles and Memorabilia  
 
 
 
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