In January we highlighted Grey Flannel's 1905 Princeton Football Jersey worn by All-American Norm Tooker. The auction listing claimed the jersey was the "earliest known collegiate item with positive player identification to ever hit the market." If that claim was correct, our August 2018 Artifact of the Month, a circa 1901 Chicago-style head harness, has now taken over that distinction.
Due to its limited production run (3 years) by a single manufacturer (A.G. Spalding), the Chicago-style head harness is one of the most difficult styles to acquire. In fact, we estimate that fewer than 10 examples survive today. Even more remarkable, this particular example bears two markings that identify its original owner, David Dale, halfback, quarterback, and tackle for the 1901-1902 University of Pennsylvania Quakers.
The head harness has been branded with "A.A.U.P.", the acronym for the Athletic Association of the University of Pennsylvania, on the right rear of the crown. In addition, the name "Dale" has been inscribed on the interior of the crown. David Dale's collegiate playing career with Penn's starting eleven was contemporaneous with the Chicago-style's period of manufacture (1901-1903).
Born on February 26, 1876 in Lamont, Pennsylvania, David Dale studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. As a 25 year old graduate student, Dale played halfback and quarterback for the Quakers in 1901, and tackle in 1902. Dale was listed at 5'-10" and 165 pounds in 1902 and was described as "cool, resourceful, and always in the game." Pegged as the projected captain of the 1903 team, Dale graduated instead at the end of the 1902-1903 school year and opened his own medical practice in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. He was married in 1906 and served as a Lieutenant Colonel in an evacuation hospital in France during World War I. He passed away at the age of 59 in 1935.
1901-1902 University of Pennsylvania Football
The University of Pennsylvania's 1901 campaign began with 7 consecutive victories. The conclusion of the season, however, was plagued by injuries and student discontent with the athletic association. The Quakers lost 5 of their final 8 games, including a devastating 23-6 loss to their bitter rival Cornell. The team finished with a disappointing 10-5 record and Hall of Fame coach George Woodruff resigned.
1902 University of Pennsylvania Quakers Football Team
Enlargement of David Dale
The cartoon below depicts Dale's brilliant run during Penn's 12-11 victory over rival Cornell on November 27, 1902, his final collegiate game. Dale is shown wearing what appears to be an improved head harness. We therefore speculate that the Chicago-style head harness was worn by Dale during the 1901 season.
Boston Sunday Globe, November 2, 1902
San Antonio Daily Light, December 18, 1904
Philadelphia Inquirer, November 28, 1902
University of Pennsylvania Archives
PENN FOOTBALL: ORIGINS TO 1901
In 1902, Woodruff was replaced by Dr. Carl Williams, who instituted a new coaching system that would lead to UPenn's undefeated and unscored upon national championship season in 1904. 1902 was a rebuilding year for Williams and the Quakers who posted a 9-4 final record, including the thrilling victory over Cornell during the season finale, 12-11.
The head harness is an adult large in size and is complete with all of its original straps intact. An additional piece of elastic strap was added to the chinstrap to provide a tighter fit. The leather remains flexible and supple, with minor spalling and moderate soiling of the exterior leather. The front forehead straps and the rear neck strap show signs of period size adjustments to fit a slightly smaller head. For a more complete condition assessment, please visit this example's Helmet Registry page.