October 2015
Harry Mason's
c.1900 Spalding No. 60
Double Crown Head Harness

Our October 2015 Artifact of the Month is a circa 1900-1902 Spalding No. 60 Double Crown Head Harness. This example was owned by Harry Mason, the journeyman professional football player who played in the 1902 World Series of Football in Madison Square Garden, and is currently housed in the archives at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Last month we speculated that Harry likely wore this head harness while playing for the "World Champion" Syracuse Athletic Association in the 1902 World Series.

The No. 60 shows significant game wear, along with cracking and checking of the leather. Both of the ear flaps have been separated from the helmet, which is not uncommon on improved head harnesses. One of the ear flaps remains in the possession of the Hall of Fame.
The No. 60 Double Crown Head Harness was introduced by Spalding in 1900, in response to the increased frequency of high impact collisions in turn-of-the-century football. The helmet consisted of an outer and inner shell designed to work together to provide an internal shock absorber. Unfortunately for the No. 60, players frequently used these and other improved head harnesses as battering rams, resulting in the Intercollegiate Athletic Association's ban on sole leather helmets in 1903. The Double Crown Head Harness is considered a variation of the Improved Head Harness, which is listed as #5 in our:
About the Spalding No. 60 Double Crown Head Harness
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G. L. Pierce, Inventor
On July 9, 1901, George Pierce submitted a patent application for a "Head Harness for Football Players." Pierce, a prolific sports equipment inventor, is credited with dozens of patents, nearly all of which he assigned to A.G. Spalding at the time of issuance. Pierce's description of his invention was as follows:

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Top 10 Rarest Football Head Harness Styles 1894-1925
The object of this invention is to provide an improved head-harness or head-protector for foot-ball players which may be worn without discomfort and shall effectually protect the head and the ears against injury by blows or otherwise. In accordance with the invention the cover for the head comprises two shells of different depth which are secured together at or near their edges, the outer shell being of relatively hard and tough material and separated, except at its edges, from the inner shell, which may be of relatively softer material and adapted to fit upon the head of the wearer.

Other No. 60 Examples
On July 9, 1901, George Pierce submitted a patent application for a "Head Harness for Football Players." Pierce, a prolific sports equipment inventor, is credited with dozens of patents, nearly all of which he assigned to A.G. Spalding at the time of issuance. Pierce's description of his invention was as follows:

Patent Illustration, G.L. Pierce, July 9, 1901

No. 60 Ad, Spalding Official Football Guide for 1902

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Spalding No. 60, Legendary Auctions, 2008
Spalding No. 60, Legendary Auctions, 2008
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AntiqueFootball Artifact of the Month
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