American speed skates


Fig.1: American speed skates, around 1885
Classic American speed skates look like these. It is interesting to compare them with the Dutch and Swedish speed skates with wooden platforms of the same period. The similarities are striking. The shown skates came from the factories of Union Hardware Co., Torrington, Connecticut, where metal supplies for home, garden, kitchen and crafts were made. At the end of the 19th century the production of ice skates was an important activity. In the runner blades the model name is stamped as The Donoghue Racing Skate (detail 1d). Joseph Donoghue was America's most famous speed skater of the 19th century. It might be that he had a say in the design of this model. The skates have been beautifully detailed with brass inlays at the most vulnerable places (details 1a and 1b) and anti slip nails (detail 1b). Remarkable is the not supported tail piece and the huge heel screw. The runner blades are 3 mm thick which at that time already was relatively much for speed skates.

Manufacturer: Union Hardware Co., Torrington (Conn.), USA
Mark: Union Hardware Co., The Donoghue Racing Skate, Torrington Conn. (detail 1d)
Technical data: total length: 45 cm; height over ice: 4,5 cm; platforms: 38 cm long. 6 cm wide; runner blades: 22 mm tall, 3 mm thick; weight: 490 g


Fig
.2: American speed skates, around 1885

As with the skates in figure 1 we here see a not supported tail piece. It looks as if too short platforms have been mounted. Like the others they have been beautifully finished  (details 2a and 2b).
 
Manufacturer: Peck & Snyder, New York (NY), USA.
Mark: Peck & Snyder Racer No. 4 R (detail 2c)
Technical data: total length: 45.5 cm; height over ice: 3.8 cm; platforms: 36.5 cm lang. 5.7 cm wide; runner blades: 24 mm tall, 3 mm thick; weight: 500 g


Underneath two pairs of ice skates of unknown makers are shown. Both have the same characteristics as the skates in figures 1 and 2. The pair in figure 3 is larger than the pair in figure 4 and yet approximately 10% lighter due to the use of a different kind of wood. The blades of both pairs differ from the ones in figure 1 and 2 in that they are almost completely supported by the platforms. All skates show huge heel screws and brass inlays (details 3a, 3b, 4a and 4b) which are characteristic for all skates with an Anglo-Saxon background.

Fig.3: American speed skates, around 1900

Manufacturer: unknown; mark: none
Technical data: total length: 45 cm; height over ice: 4.5 cm; platforms: 44 cm long. 6 cm wide; runner blades: 23 mm tall, 2 mm thick; weight: 440 g


Fig.4: American speed skates, around 1900

Manufacturer: unknown; mark: none
technical data: total length: 40 cm; height over ice: 3.5 cm; platforms: 37 cm long. 6 cm wide; runner blades: 16 mm tall, 5 mm thick; weight: 495 g


 
Around 1900 a tendency of reducing weight by drilling holes in the runner blades emerged. Underneath two examples are shown. Figure 5 shows a pair of classic American speed skates and figure 6 a derivate of them. When we compare the weight of both pairs it seems that the designer has chosen a wrong kind of wood for the platforms of the skates in figure 6.

Fig.5: American speed skates, around 1890

Manufacturer: unknown; mark: none
Technical data: total length: 41.5 cm; height over ice: 4.5 cm; platforms: 39.5 cm long. 6.5 cm wide; runner blades: 22 mm tall, 3 mm thick; weight: 435 g


Fig.6: American speed skates, around 1890

Manufacturer unknown; mark: none
technical data: total length: 38 cm; height over ice: 4.5 cm; platforms: 31 cm long. 7 cm wide; runner blades: 22 mm tall, 5 mm thick; weight: 460 g

 








 


detail 1a


detail 1b


detail 1c


detail 1d


detail 2a


detail 2b


detail 2c


 


detail 3a


detail 3b


detail 4a


detail 4b















 


detail 6a


detail 6b
 

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