The Pro Football Hall of Fame's
c.1895 Spalding No. 25 Ear Protector
Perched on top of Harry Mason's uniform in the Pro Football Hall of Fame rests the only known example of the Spalding No. 25 Ear Protector, the very first football head harness to appear in a sporting goods catalog. The head harness and Morrill nose mask were donated to the Hall by Harry Mason's son, Julian, along with the uniform in the early 1980's. Manufactured by A.G. Spalding & Bros. between 1895 and 1896, the No. 25 easily ranks as #1 in our:
Jason Aikens, Collections Curator for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, graciously accepted my request to visit the Hall and photograph the No. 25 on August 31, 2015. Not only did Jason open the display case for the photos, he removed the harness and allowed me to take the photos below for AntiqueFootball. While the harness does not possess a Spalding logo, the Mason example is an exact match to the 1896 Spalding catalog image.
Upon examination, it is obvious that the No. 25 was solely designed for the protection of the ears. The leather straps across the crown of the head provided no padding or protection for the head; their only purpose being to hold the ear pads in place. Based upon the catalog image, Mason's right ear pad is original to the harness and the left was replaced at some point in time. The No. 25 appears to have originally had a red cloth chin strap that was replaced with an elastic strap. Further, Mason sewed his Morrill No. 1 Nose Protector to the head harness's forehead strap to make a unique combination ear and nose protection harness.
Spalding No. 25 Ad, Spalding Official Football Guide for 1896
Harry Mason's uniform, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, OH