Lost Advertisements— “The Baseball Curver”

11 Jul

Less than twenty years after the introduction of the curveball entrepreneurs found a way to separate people who wanted to throw a curveball from their money.

In 1888 ads began to appear in newspapers from Joseph H. Burns of Cleveland:

“Can you throw a baseball?  If so, fifteen minutes practice with the Baseball Curver will enable you to pitch all the Curves as well as any Professional pitcher.  Sent postpaid on receipt of 75 cents”

1888 Baseball Curver advertisment

1888 Baseball Curver advertisement

Burns applied for a patent which was awarded in December of 1890; several newspapers ran a wire service story about the patent:

“The ‘delivery of a baseball so that the batsman shall be deceived into ‘striking out’ has been made the subject of much study by expert pitchers, and a device is here illustrated for giving the ball the ‘curve’ which is especially effective.  It consists of an elastic strap having a thumb-loop at one end and connected at its opposite end to a segment of a sphere, the latter being shaped to receive a section of the ball.”

Burns' patented "Curver"

Burns’ patented “Curver”

Burns’ invention was not the last “Curver.”

In 1907 advertisements appeared for a “New Idea,” “Baseball Curver,” offered by the Curver Co., of Omaha  which called theirs the:

“Greatest invention in baseball since the discovery of the curve.  It is so small the batsman cannot see it and they all wonder where those awful curves come from.  It imparts a rapid whirling motion to the ball thus causing a wide curve.  Fits either hand and does not interfere with catching or throwing.”

The “New Idea” Curver was a bargain compared to the version introduced two decades earlier.  It was 25 cents and came with “a large 64-page book of ‘Out Door Sports’ containing the 1907 rules for baseball.”  Three Curvers and three and three books were 50 cents.

The "New Idea," 1907

The “New Idea,” 1907

A patent for this version of the “Baseball Curver” was awarded in 1909 to Wilbur Ward Winquest of Nebraska.

Wilbur Winquest's patented "Curver"

Wilbur Winquest’s patented “Curver”

In 1912 another “Baseball Curver,’ the creation of another Nebraska inventor, Ralph Wilson Jones, was featured in the pages of “Scientific American:”

“Mr. Jones provides means in this case readily attachable to the hand for causing a ball to curve when thrown from the hand.  A vacuum cup is held in position by a band made of a size to fit a finger, but is preferably made of a size to fit two or more fingers so that the cup may be shifted or adjusted  nicely to any point for giving a great or small curve, or various kinds of curves.”

Ralph Jones' "Curver" as featured in "Scientific American"

Ralph Jones’ “Curver” as featured in “Scientific American”

Jones was also awarded a patent the same year.  It is unclear whether he ever marketed his invention.

Another “Baseball Curver” was advertised in newspapers in 1913—it is unknown whether it is Jones’ invention, or a different version—by M. Crofton of New York, as a premium for selling, at 25 cents each, “8 of my Beautiful Premium Pictures.”  Children would receive the “Curver” as well as a “Baseball Suit—Or a Player’s Outfit,” after returning the two dollars earned from the sale of the pictures.

1913 "Baseball Curver" advertisement

1913 “Baseball Curver” advertisement

One final advertisement appeared in many papers in 1917; the ARDEA novelty company of Stamford, Connecticut offered said their version “Fits the hand, cannot be seen.”  The 1917 “Curver” was sold for 10 cents, or thee for 25 cents.

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1917 Baseball Curver

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