Over the past 8 years, three pre-1910 football head harnesses with a distinct star-shaped ear holes have made their way to the vintage football equipment market. Our July 2016 Artifact of the Month is one of these examples, circa 1905 mint condition 8-spoke head harness that has been in our collection since 2009. This signature ear pattern should have made it easy to identify the manufacturer and model of the helmets. However, to our knowledge, none of these examples had an identifying maker's mark, and, no catalog image showing this ear pattern has surfaced....until now!
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Full Stall & Dean Evolution Chart
c. 1900 Stall & Dean Improved Head Harness
sold by AntiqueFootball
On July 6, I had the opportunity to research the Stall & Dean company records at the Archives of the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The archives included a comprehensive collection of Stall & Dean catalogs, dating from 1905 through 1973. Stall & Dean was an American sporting goods company founded in 1898 in Stockton, Massachusetts by W.T. Stall and C.H. Dean.
The earliest Fall & Winter catalog in the collection was from 1905, and the star-shaped ear hole was present on two of the head harnesses sold by Stall & Dean that year. The catalog allowed us to confirm that the head harness is a Stall & Dean No. 41 "Open Helmet," which sold for $1.00 in 1905.
By 1908, Stall & Dean had abandoned their signature ear hole design, opting instead for a more basic, small round hole. Our research of the Stall & Dean collection at the Smithsonian Archives enabled us to create a new head harness evolution chart to add to our growing body of research on the evolution of the football helmet.
c. 1905 Stall & Dean No. 41
Stall & Dean head harness advertisement, 1905 Fall & Winter Catalogue
1905 Stall & Dean
8-Spoke Head Harness
Two other pre-1910 Stall & Dean head harnesses have come to market over the past 8 years, a circa 1900 improved head harness, and a 1905 No. 42 raincap.
1905 Stall & Dean No. 42
sold on EBay in 2011
Other Pre-1910 Stall & Dean Examples