By 1901, an additional 10 air holes were added to the nose of the No. 1 Morrill’s Nose Mask, which featured modified embossing MORRILL’S PATENT NOSE MASK on the forehead rest and PAT’D SEPT. 29 1891 on the inside of the nose. The youth’s size No. 1B was approximately 1” shorter than the No. 1 and featured six air holes in the nose and three in the mouthpiece. The No. 1 Nose Mask continued to appear in sporting goods catalogs until 1923 during which time the advertised price dropped from $1.50 in 1901 to $0.50 in 1920.
Morrill's Improved Nose Mask
Player Photo, 1908
Morrill's Improved Nose Mask No. 1, circa 1901-1923
By the turn-of-the-century, football players were larger and collisions more violent. As head harnesses evolved from ear muffs held together with straps to the first true helmets, nose masks evolved in response to the game’s escalation of violence. Between 1897 and 1898, Victor Sporting Goods Co. began manufacturing nose masks variants that are known today in the hobby as “batwings,” owing to the shape of the “extra protecting pieces for the cheekbones.” The purpose of the extended wings was to distribute the force of impact to the cheekbones and chin. Embossed with “VICTOR SPECIAL, VICTOR SPORTING GOODS CO. MADE UNDER MORRILL PATENT, PATENTED SEPT 29, 1891,” batwings have been assumed to have been first manufactured in 1891. However, this date refers to the Cumnock patent date. The batwing first appeared in catalogs and team photos between 1897-1898 and continued to be manufactured by Victor into the mid-1920’s.
Victor Special - 'Batwing' Nose Guard
Victor’s No. 535 Ideal Face Protector featured six air holes, three located in the nose shell and three located through the mouthpiece. In 1900, the Ideal Face Protector sold for $2.50. In 1920, the No. 535 was referred to as the special Victor style No. NG100, which retailed for $1.40.
No. 535 Ideal Face Protector
Victor No. 535 “Ideal Face Protector”
No. 535B Face and Nose Protector
Similar to shape of the No 535, but has longer chin piece and no forehead rest. This mask is more intended for the end's use, having band around neck instead of head, it may be dropped away by simply relaxing pressure of the teeth, when it will hang until required for use again. Victor quality throughout.
No. 535B…………..Postage 15c………….Each $1.50
Close-up of Embossing on Victor No. 535 “Ideal Face Protector”
Victor No. 535, McClung Catalog, c. 1900
The second batwing variant, Victor’s No. 535B Face and Nose Protector eliminated the forehead strap and replaced it with a neck strap secured to the bottom of the mask. Without the need for the forehead strap, Victor eliminated the t-shaped portion of the mask that extended to the center of the forehead called the “forehead rest.” As a result, the Face and Nose Protector was held in place solely by the mouthpiece and hung like a pendant around the neck when not in use. The 1900 Victor Sports Catalog describes the 535B as follows:
Victor No. 535B Nose Mask, Photo courtesy of Antiquesportsshop.com
C.M. McClung Hardware Catalog, Circa 1900
The third batwing variant listed in the 1900 Victor catalog was the No. 535A Face and Ear Guard. The 535A was the same mask as the No. 535 except that the forehead rest and elastic strap were replaced with a wide head band designed to protect the ears. The 1900 Victor Sports Catalog described the 535A as follows: as follows:
No. 535A Face and Ear Guard
Victor No. 535A Nose Mask, Legendary Auctions, August 2008
Postcard showing players wearing Morrill No. 1 and Victor 535 & 535B nose guards, 1909, photo courtesy of Antiqueathlete.com
This guard has the face mask No. 535 in combination with a broad head band of heavy worsted which entirely covers and protects the ears and also offers considerable protection to the knit. Band can be knit in college colors.
No. 535A….….. .Postage 20c……….Each $2.25.
The History of the Football Nose Mask
March 10, 2015
Football's Most Unusual Protective Device