Celebrating 10 million patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will issue the 10 millionth utility patent on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. This is a historic milestone for the agency and for inventors in the United States. Use the hashtag #10MillionPatents to join the celebration.

Today’s post comes from Danielle Sklarew, an intern in the National Archives History Office. It’s the first of two patent posts we’re sharing today to mark this historic occasion. 

Within the holdings of the National Archives are some some super interesting and sometimes crazy patents! While these patents range from doll designs to flying machines, the National Archives also holds many sports gear patents. Here are six interesting athletic equipment patents:

1. W. Dean’s Hockey Stick Design

Dean’s wooden hockey stick design from 1900 definitely resembles the sticks that hockey players still use on the ice. However, about 50 years after the patent was created, athletes strayed away from the straight stick design in the patent and started using curved sticks to improve their passing and shots—and they still use them today!

Patent drawing for W. Dean’s Hockey Stick, 6/18/1901. (National Archives Identifier 5928299)


2. J. E. Bennett’s Baseball Catcher Uniform

While this catcher’s uniform looks nothing like what baseball catchers wear today, Bennett’s patent shows how protected—and literally caged-in—he wanted catchers to be from those speedy fastballs.

Patent drawing of equipment for a “Base Ball Catcher,” 3/22/1904. (National Archives Identifier 1593222)


3. C. Maling’s Tennis Racket

Do you think Serena Williams would use this racket? Maling’s tennis racket design from 1892 looks a bit more like a badminton racket than a modern-day tennis racket due to its long handle.

Patent drawing for C. Malings’ Tennis Racket, 4/12/1892. (National Archives Identifier 6104274)


4. E. Kempshall’s Golf Ball

This 1902 patent shows the intricacies of a multi-layered golf ball. Over time, golf ball technology has transformed, and now balls usually have a synthetic rubber core. However, the dimples on the outside of the ball have remained to the present day.

Patent drawing for E. Kempshall’s Golf Ball, 4/1/1902. (National Archives Identifier 7369161)


5. G. H. Rawlings’ Baseball Glove

This padded baseball glove closely resembles gloves that batters still use when they step up to home plate. Rawlings, who created the patent, started a sporting equipment company in the 1880s, and with evolved equipment, remains one of the leaders in the baseball sports gear industry today.

Patent drawing for a “Base Ball Glove,” 9/8/1885. (National Archives Identifier 1593221)


6. A. Schmel’s Football Pads

Football has always been a game of big hits and hard tackles, even in the early 1900s. Schmel’s patent shows shoulder pads created for football players in order to handle the physicality of the sport.

Patent drawing for A. Schemel’s Jacket for Football Players, 11/27/1906. (National Archives Identifier 6104280)


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