SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
9000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Social Shorpy

Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Syndicate content

Join our mailing list (enter email):

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Original Baseball: 1925

Original Baseball: 1925

October 8, 1925. "Patent Office. Original baseball patented 1883 by S.D. Castle." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Seamless Baseball

Had the seamless ball been accepted, the game would never have progressed to where it is today. Those seams provide the hurlers with the ability to change the aerodynamics of the pitched ball.

Base Ball

This "base ball" was intended for the same mass consumer use as a golf ball -- durable enough to be used over and over without the stuffing flying out of it.

Interestingly, it looks like the stuffing is flying out of it.

Mr. Castle's Baseball

Here's a link to Samuel D. Castle's original patent for this baseball. Castle did not "invent" the baseball, per se, but rather a seamless version of it. Castle, of Bridgeport Ct, held over a dozen patents, most relating to machinery for treating and stretching leather and furs. Curiously, his patent for the baseball does not consist of any leather. Instead, the lack of seams is achieved by repeated dipping in gutta percha (a natural latex) which builds up a durable leather-like surface.

Which leads to the obvious question

What did they play baseball with before 1883?

Roy Hobbs

Could this be the ball Roy Hobbs (aka Robert Redford) knocked the cover off for the Knights in the movie 'The Natural'?


Would love to see that ball appraised on Antiques Roadshow....

My Baseball

Holy cow!!! That looks like the baseball my buddies and I used way back in the fourth grade.


Pretty fancy penmanship ... like the Palmer Method on steroids.

Karl Fenning

The man in the photo is Karl Fenning. The following ran as a caption for a similar photo from the Harris & Ewing studio. Fenning, a Washington native, is buried in the Congressional Cemetery: his obituary (PDF).

The original baseball, patented in 1883 by Samuel D. Castle, was found in the patent office yesterday among those patents which are to be sold or laid aside. It is being exhibited by Assistant Commissioner of Patents Fenning.

Washington Post, Oct 8, 1925

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2019 Shorpy Inc.