Old Cowtown Museum continues to add items to its collection every year. The latest additions to our collection are wooden roller skates.
Roller skating was very popular in the 1870s and 1880s in the United States. The industry really began with James Plimpton of New York developing the first four-wheeled roller skate, patented in 1863. More companies opened by the 1870s, and roller skating exploded across the country.
The museum has added two roller skate pairs to its collection. The first was manufactured by Selchow and Righter. The second comes from the Samuel Winslow Skate Company.
Selchow and Righter was a 19th- and 20th-century game manufacturer out of New York. The company is best known for producing
Scrabble. Their catalogues included toys, games, puzzles, and roller skates. Notice the advertisement below:
Our new wooden roller skates were made by Selchow and Righter. The skates were patented in 1880. The size 8 skates have no rocking action, making it much more difficult to turn. Notice that the wheels are placed together in the front and back, leaving no room between on the axles. These skates would originally have had leather straps at the front and back to latch them to the skater's shoes; notice they are missing.
1880s Selchow and Righter roller skates
Samuel Winslow was originally contracted to manufacture Plimpton Skates, the first manufacturer of roller skates. By the 1870s, Winslow began manufacturing his own roller skates and was then sued by Plimpton for patent infringement. The two settled and Winslow continued making skates as the Samuel Winslow Skate Company. During the 1880s, over 1,000,000 pairs of skates were used in over 3,000 rinks. (Evolution of the Roller Skate: 1820- Present, Scott Wilhite)
The Vineyard model of wooden roller skates was originally patented in 1880. This particular pair of skates is the Vineyard C model, patented March 14, 1882. The size 7.5 skates have wooden plates and wooden wheels. "Vineyard 7.5 C" is imprinted under the toe. The skates have leather straps and metal heel plates. This is the third model of Vineyard available, with each having slightly different trucks. This has a single action truck, since double action was not invented until the 20th century. Vineyard was the most popular skate of the 1880s.
1880s Vineyard model C roller skates