How old is your oldest racquet?

Discussion in 'Classic Racquet Talk' started by Virginia, Nov 28, 2009.

  1. Virginia

    Virginia Hall of Fame

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    As the title says. :)

    I'm so excited because I've just found out (for certain) that my Wright & Ditson "The Hub" is definitely pre 1900. It's somewhere between 1895 and 1899 incl.

    I'll post a photo later, but it has the old squarish head and cross hatching on the handle. It is a Ladies model, measuring 4 1/2" around the grip and weighing 12oz. In very good condition, except for the strings, five of which are broken, but not missing, and the buttcap, which has lost whatever used to be written on it. The handwritten gold Wright & Ditson logo is intact and not faded.

    I've love to hear about everyone else's old treasures! :)
     
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  2. ilikephobo

    ilikephobo Semi-Pro

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    older then i am. i have a Pro Staff St Vincent and im 15. im not too sure the exact "age" of it tho
     
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  3. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    A wood Davis racquet from the late 60s.

    -SF
     
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  4. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    My oldest are probably my 2 Birmal racquets from the 1920's. Made in the UK of Aluminium (yes, it is spelt like that:)), with metal strings and was one of the first racquets to have leather grips apparently!
     
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  5. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    Jimbo, those birmals are really nice old metals, probably the oldest manufactured metals, predating the daytons by a decade. I have a couple wood rackets from the late 1880s
     
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  6. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, the Birmals are great. I've seen one of yours and it's different from the 2 I have, they are really quite rare it seems!

    I thought I had a new, unused metal Dayton, but I can't find it, which is really annoying:evil:

    I was speaking to someone about these recently, and they were seemingly made after the 30's at some point with plastic buttcaps, rather than the original painted ones from the 30's. Do you know more about when the plastic buttcapped Daytons were made please?
     
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  7. Mdubb23

    Mdubb23 Hall of Fame

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    Ahhhh...probably my original Maxply Fort.
     
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  8. yuth

    yuth Rookie

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    For me " DOnnay Borg pro wood" it 's such a great looking racquet.:)
     
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  9. schu47

    schu47 Rookie

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    This is probably my oldest. Diagonal stringing was popular in old wood racquets from about 1870-1890, according to Kuebler's Book of Tennis Rackets, so this may be from then. Or not. There doesn't seem to be any way to really tell on this one. "Grady's Bicycle Store" is the only thing written anywhere on the frame.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    ^^^ Way cool!

    Where did you come across it?

    J
     
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  11. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Here is my Birmal, which is the oldest racquet I have, from I think about 1925:)

    [​IMG]

    Someone told me that these had the first leather grips on tennis racquets, does anyone know if this is true?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009
    #11
  12. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    This is the plastic buttcap on one of my metal Daytons, that I was on about:)

    [​IMG]

    I'd like to know what year these were introduced, if Joe or anyone else knows?

    And I've looked for my New metal Dayton that I thought I had, but it is nowhere to be seen:(

    Has anyone else imagined that they have a racquet in their collection, but it then turned out that they must have dreamt it or something?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009
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  13. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    I believe the new model daytons with plastic butt caps were made 2..3 decades later like the 50s or 60s.
     
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  14. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    Many of the rackets circa 1940 were strung diagonally like the TA Davis models. Yours like like it maybe a TAD from that era.
     
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  15. pshulam

    pshulam Hall of Fame

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    If I exclude my two wood rackets, the earliest one is Slazenger Panther Pro made in 1987 (or so).
     
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  16. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Joe:)

    I was guessing 50's for these. It's strange that there is seemingly no record of when these were made, and that these were made 20-30 years after the original versions!
     
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  17. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Anyone else have any idea when leather grips first appeared on tennis racquets?
     
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  18. ericsson

    ericsson Hall of Fame

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    Very good question Jimbo! my oldest first generation Donnay's had some kind of leather grips on so it must be somewhere between 1930 and 1940...
    I will dig in to this a little more...
     
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  19. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Cheers:)

    I read somewhere that these Birmals from the 1920's had the first ever leather grips, but I really don't know about this, but would definitely like to know!
     
    #19
  20. ericsson

    ericsson Hall of Fame

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    Perhaps but it was not common, untill 1930 it was mostly bare handle or they put something on top (white tape?) preventing from blisters i guess.
    Take a look here at some pics:

    Suzanne Lenglen and Bill Tilden in 1920 (bare handles)
    [​IMG]


    Bunny Austin (English Davis Cup) in 1930 (bare handles with cover)
    [​IMG]

    Don Budge in 1936 (bare handle but the article said: Note the bare handle; everyone else was using leather grips by now.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2009
    #20
  21. racquetfreak

    racquetfreak Semi-Pro

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    i have some pre-20th century Slazengers rackets; a couple Demons and a Doherty
     
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  22. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Everyone has their demons:twisted:
     
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  23. schap02

    schap02 Semi-Pro

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    I picked up a "Harry C. Lee" Varsity Woddy on the Bay, not sure on age
     
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  24. vwfye

    vwfye Semi-Pro

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    wow... my earliest stick is a 1930s 'adventure'. but it isn't as cool as most of these!
     
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  25. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    this is my oldest racquet.
    wright & ditson big bill tilden championship racquet
    [​IMG]
     
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  26. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    So it does look like the very first leather grips were sometime in the 1920's!

    And I've just been reading about Bill Tilden, and frankly I'm quite shocked:shock:
     
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  27. dataseviltwin

    dataseviltwin Rookie

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    early 1900's...

    Have several Wright & Ditson's (no telling - some have copyright/patent as early as 1905 - Kuebler's book puts them as early as that as well...), and 2 Dayton's (steel - strung w/what appears to be piano wire). Several open throat models from the 20's and 30's as well...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    They're really neat - workmanship on some of them is amazing :)
     
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  28. Virginia

    Virginia Hall of Fame

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    If any of your W & D's have three little dots and then three lines of tiny, indescipherable text, it's pre 1900, as that was when those lines were replaced with a U S A with the U and A coming togather in an X.
     
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  29. Bent

    Bent Semi-Pro

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    I have a Handicap (it's the name, really)

    With thick gut 14g, I think.

    From about 1935.

    And I play with it once every year, when I meet less demanding team mates ;-)

    It says 12 oz. on it.

    Extremely flexible....

    I guess the strings are 40-50 yrs. old, but it plays rather solid.

    If you miss hit, which happens rather often, you get a feeling it might crack.
     
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  30. Hannah19

    Hannah19 Professional

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    Can anyone shed a light to this, I have an old racket, basically all white, with a No 1 stamp in the throat section and on the handle it says: " Leslie Coates" in gold letters.

    Looks like a pre war racket but the name Leslie Coates seems a mystery.
     
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  31. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    This name is familiar somehow, but can't find anything!
     
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  32. ATS

    ATS New User

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    Oldies

    http://picasaweb.google.com/rmoyers1958/DropBox?authkey=Gv1sRgCI2Hvfum9sGvBA#

    Here is link to some of my oldies. Some of my Wright Ditsons are way back there. Easiest to read is 1922 but others I think are older. I have an Eastern Special A with the odd shape, has to be back there too, anyone help on that one.

    Also included some pics of my TADS that are very nice, and some Bancrofts. I will post more as I dig them out. thanks
     
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  33. retrowagen

    retrowagen Hall of Fame

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    I just found a Wilson "Onwentsia" at a thrift store. I recalled from a 1984 World Tennis editorial (danged photographic memory) that it was the same model used by Bud Collins as he began in the sport. It's circa late 1930's, I think. Don't know much else about it; appears to be from a lesser model line but has lovely sky blue and white graphics with gold lettering outlined in black. Classy.
     
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  34. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    ^^^^^^Photo please:)
     
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  35. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Here is one of my Demons!

    A Slazengers Demon:)

    [​IMG]
     
    #35
  36. dthomas

    dthomas Rookie

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    I have a slazenger challenge one. This was the first racquet I remember using in high school in the 1970's. I plan to use it on the grass courts this summer.
    Borg used this racquet in his match against Roger Taylor at Wimbledon.
     
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  37. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Yes, Roger Taylor was busy in the 70's what with the tennis and playing drums with Queen:)
     
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  38. michael_1265

    michael_1265 Professional

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    I'll wake this thread up. I have two wood-handled racquets with no name. Joe estimated their vintage to be 1925
    [​IMG]
     
    #38
  39. Hannah19

    Hannah19 Professional

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    I've got a fair Slazenger Doherty from around 1920.
    No leather grip, just grooves in the wooden handle.
    7/10 condition, 2.50 euro from a thrift store.
     
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  40. rodracquet

    rodracquet Rookie

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    Randy Crow has undertaken considerable research into the Dayton Company which closed in 1995 still making the old style wood handled steel frame racquets almost as a cottage industry towards the end.

    To date these racquets his suggestion is:
    1. If the butt cap has “Dayton Ohio” printed on it, it was made between 1923 and 1934.
    2. If the racquet has a logo of three stylized racquets on the throat, it was made after 1974.
    3. If the plastic butt cap says “Arcanum O” and the throat doesn’t have the three-racquet logo, it dates from 1934-1974.

    On the subject of Birmal, they certainly were an early adopter of the leather grips which were offered in conjunction with their cord grip model. Please see an earlier metal racquet circa 1887 on our website www.tennishistory.com.au again courtesy Randy Crow. Even has a string tension adjustment system which must be surely one of the earliest racquets with this feature.
     
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  41. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    The below link shows some of the oldest (1885) tennis, baseball, and golf equipment manufactured by Spalding, one of the first major sporting manufuctures in the US.

    http://www.woodtennis.com/equipment/
     
    #41
  42. mctennis

    mctennis Hall of Fame

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    I live in Dayton and remembering seeing some metal racquets the parks and rec division used for their summer tennis programs. I wonder how old those racquets were?
     
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  43. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    Not sure about the ones you saw; but, I have some bare-handled models, presumably from the '30s-'40s and I recall seeing some offered in catalogs in the mid-'70s. It would be interesting to learn of the stringing method used with the steel strings ;) .
     
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  44. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    I would also like to know the stringing method ?

    Must be very painful ... Im thinking pliers and thick leather gloves. Cant imagine weaving that piano wire string. Wonder how long the string job would take ? Nice that there is probably very little tension loss and the strings may outlast the racket and those dayton rackets were made to be almost indestructable.
     
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  45. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    Back in the mid-'80s, I tried to restring a metal racket(not sure if it was a Dayton) using a non-stranded(as in mono'filament') metal wire. Mains were easy...tie-offs, not so much ;) . Crosses were just dumb! This was on a two-point Ektelon...applied tension only to straighten the strings! Weaving the crosses became darned near impossible past the mid-way point. Never tried another metal string job...unless you count Gamma Edge ten years later(and THAT was bad enough!).
     
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  46. Sanglier

    Sanglier Rookie

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    I picked up four bare-handle racquets over the years. The W&D on the far right is a recent Goodwill find. It's not tennis, but a racquet is a racquet :)

    [​IMG]


    Only the Dayton is recognizable to me (thanks to the Internet). The one on the far left is probably the oldest of the bunch, but it has no markings left to help me research its identity.

    The second racquet from the right is an odd one. It is made of a VERY light wood (not laminated, as far as I can tell) and strung with a thin gauge gut (only marginally thicker than the one on the badminton racquet). The frame is crudely hand-painted in gaudy shades of yellow, red and blue, and they even went to the trouble of using a red-dyed string for the cross. I have absolutely no clue where and when this racquet was made, and have some suspicion that it's not even intended for normal tennis play. Perhaps it's a kiddie racquet? It is feather light, but not noticeably smaller than a standard frame; I have trouble visualizing any significant advantage it would confer to a small child. This is the only vintage frame in my stash that I would not dare to hit an actual ball with. If it is in fact a production tennis racquet, I suspect the vast majority of its peers never lived past their first dozen ball contacts on the court.

    [​IMG]


    The W&D "Premier" Goodwill find below is the first bare-handle badminton racquet I've come across. Presumably these racquets evolved in parallel with their big brothers and gained their grip wrap in the '30s? The "Shut-tite" press is fashioned out of walnut(!) - a beautifully crafted piece in and of itself, typical of all things made during the wood and steel era. There is a "badminton rackets not guaranteed" decal on the shaft, so I may have to resist the urge to take some swings at a shuttlecock with this thing...

    [​IMG]
     
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  47. frinton

    frinton Semi-Pro

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    #47
  48. rodracquet

    rodracquet Rookie

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    Spalding Metalite

    This is a great find. In Kuebler's book it mentions Spalding had an aluminium racquet in 1920 as quoted from an ad in Suzanne Lenglen book Lawn tennis for girls. Certainly this racquet is likely to be the 1931 METALITE which had the DURALUMINIUM HEAD & wood grip
     
    #48
  49. rodracquet

    rodracquet Rookie

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    Felftham UK

    This is my earliest racquet I think early 1890's. It was made in the UK by Feltham of London. It has a slight warp but at least the strings are pretty much intact. I would like to buy a lob sided racquet at some point but will need to be lucky to find at the right price.

    [​IMG]
     
    #49
  50. frinton

    frinton Semi-Pro

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    Thanks for the info. You could be right, 'cause I think that the racquet in the pic below could be the same

    [​IMG]

    ....it looks very much the same!
    by the way, more cool pics here:

    http://blogs.denverpost.com/captured/2011/06/24/the-game-a-look-back-at-wimbledon/4507/
     
    #50

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