June 2015
The Wright & Ditson Sporting Goods Company was founded by George Wright and Henry Ditson in 1871. The Boston Massachusetts based company was known for manufacturing tennis, baseball, and golf equipment. In addition to being a partner in the company, George Wright continued to play professional baseball until 1882 for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, Boston Red Stockings, Boston Red Caps and the Providence Grays. In 1892, Wright & Ditson was acquired by A.G. Spalding & Brothers, and George Wright would go on to serve as a member of the board of directors for Spalding until the 1930's. Perhaps in a effort to mask Spalding's monopoly on the sporting goods market, Wright & Ditson continued to manufacture and sell its own line of sporting goods under the Wright & Ditson name until 1918 when it merged with another Spalding acquisition, the Victor Sporting Goods Company, to form Victor, Wright, and Ditson.
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1915 - 1918 Wright & Ditson Harvard Flattop Head Harness
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The 1915-1918 Wright & Ditson Harvard Style Flattop Head Harness pictured below was purchased on EBay on May 16th. The leather head harness remains in excellent condition both inside and out. The leather has lost some of its original flexibility but exhibits no signs of cracking or brittleness. The harness retains its "Wright & Ditson" embossing above the right ear and its original chinstrap.
About the Harvard Head Harness Style
Around 1915, A.G. Spalding, Wright & Ditson, and Reach each began manufacturing leather flattop top head harnesses commonly referred to as the "Harvard-style." The style was apparently supplied to and made popular by the Harvard Crimson. While this term did not appear in catalogs until the mid-1920's, each of the manufacturers named this style of head harness as either the No. H or the No. 1-H as early as 1915-1916, with the H presumably referring to Harvard. The Harvard was a lightweight all-leather harness constructed out of three pieces of leather, one for either side of the helmet and a third to form the top. By the mid-1920's, "Improved Harvard Head Harnesses" were offered by Spalding and others. The improved model added two pieces of reinforcing leather across the top front to back and side to side. It is possible that the earlier style experienced failure where the crown met the sides and the improvement was meant to reinforce the seam. By 1925, Harvard head harnesses were abandoned by most manufacturers in favor of more modern suspension style head harnesses. The Harvard head harness is listed as No. 6 in my:
Top 10 Rarest Football Head Harness Styles 1894-1925
Spalding No. H, 1915 catalog
Spalding No. H, 1923 catalog
Reach No. 1-H, 1916 catalog
After the 1918 merger with Victor Sporting Goods Company, Victor, Wright & Ditson manufactured a Harvard-style head harness of similar design to the Wright & Ditson 1915 model. The Victor model had an extended rear flap to protect the base of the neck.
Victor, Wright & Ditson Trademark
Circa 1918 Wright & Ditson Harvard Head Harness
Circa 1918 Wright & Ditson Harvard Head Harness
Circa 1915 Wright & Ditson Harvard Head Harness
Circa 1915 Wright & Ditson Harvard Head Harness
Circa 1915 Wright & Ditson Harvard Head Harness
Circa 1915 Wright & Ditson Harvard Head Harness
Other Harvard-Style Examples
An example of a circa 1923 Improved Harvard Head Harness (unknown manufacturer) sold on EBay in June 2011 for $750.
Circa 1915 Alex Taylor & Co. Harvard Head Harness, Mears.
Stall & Dean Harvard, 1923 catalog
Circa 1920 Ken-Wel Harvard Head Harness
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AntiqueFootball Artifact of the Month