Bon-Tober and McKinnon gloves

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Bon-Tober and McKinnon gloves

Postby mikesglove » October 12th, 2011, 4:24 pm

Sometimes all it takes is one key item to provide a window into otherwise obscure historical connection. The item in question is a simple baseball glove box circa 1928 that illuminates the elusive history and intertwining of two sporting goods companies. The Glove box is printed with the Bon-Tober and McKinnon glove brands and most glove collectors have some passing recognition. The Parent company, McKinnon Dash Co. that is also printed Is out of left field but is the key bit of information to solve this little historical puzzle.Image
Lachlan McKinnon founded McKinnon Dash Co. in 1878 and engaged in the business of manufacturing dashboards for horse drawn buggies and carriages. The Plant was located in Buffalo NY. and their innovative adjustable dashboards were metal frameworks covered by stretched leather. These dashboards provide protection from the horses kicking up mud and dust into the passenger area. McKinnon Dash also manufactured other products such as bicycles, canvas goods and welded chains.

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The glove maker Meyer Tober immigrated from Russia and was a co-founder of Bon-Tober Sporting Goods in 1912. They manufactured baseball gloves and balls of a high quality from their factory in Hartford CT. In 1927, McKinnon Dash Co. purchased Bon Tober Sporting Goods. The glove box referenced earlier is valuable as a documentation of this transitional period when the McKinnon and Bon Tober brands were listed together. A posting on the net54 forum discussed a youth baseball also with both McKinnon and Bon Tober stamped. There is an earlier posting some years ago regarding the name "Tober" appearing alone. Meyer Tober left and founded another company, Tober Baseball Manufacturing Co. after the McKinnon buyout. Tober moved a few times from Hartford to Manchester and finally to Rockville, CT. and manufactured baseballs for little league, minor and semi-pro teams.

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A very nice 1920's buckle web catchers mitt with an interesting wrist reinforcement. Great cloth patch.
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A very well made 1" web glove circa 1915-22. Nice brass Bon Tober logo button
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McKinnon Dash began producing the "McKinnon" brand after 1930 in Buffalo. I am of the opinion that the Bon Tober brand ceased at that point but I could be wrong. The first McKinnon catalog in 1931 lists the manufacturer as McKinnon Products Co.and a 1933 catalog lists it as McKinnon Leather Products Co., which lasted into the 1960's.

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A 1933 catalog featuring baseball equipment
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A trade publication, Chain Store Age, carried an ad from McKinnon stating: "We have a complete line of leather sporting goods items that are especially manufactured for chain stores. We specialize in certain numbers for chain stores exclusively. Write for folder and price list". Most McKinnon gloves are of medium to low quality, reflecting this marketing strategy.
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here is boxed version of the "Boys League" mitt above recently on ebay
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I found a couple of pretty decent examples however. Below is a nice 1940's "Jack Redmond" model
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A stylish 1940's base mitt.
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Last edited by mikesglove on November 17th, 2011, 1:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bon-Tober and McKinnon gloves

Postby ebbets55 » October 12th, 2011, 9:30 pm

Outstanding research as usual Mike. This is invaluable information. I do have one question though, "Who the hell has the glove for my box?"

JD
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Re: Bon-Tober and McKinnon gloves

Postby mikesglove » November 6th, 2013, 9:28 pm

here's a nice unused McKinnon mitt from the 1930-40's. Obviously made for the youth market with a combination of leather and an oil cloth/vinyl construction. Great color combination and eye catching.

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Re: Bon-Tober and McKinnon gloves

Postby vintagebrett » December 7th, 2014, 7:37 am

I picked up this document a few months ago but was slow in getting it up here - it's letterhead from the Tober Brothers in Springfield, MA before they made the move to Hartford, CT and changed the name to Bon Tober. It's dated 1911 so it was pretty shortly after this that they moved down the road to Hartford. I've not seen any baseballs with this stamping so it's something to look out for - based on the letterhead I don't believe they were making gloves or other equipment yet.
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Re: Bon-Tober and McKinnon gloves

Postby vormyogi » December 8th, 2014, 8:18 am

What are "indoor balls"? Basketballs?
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Re: Bon-Tober and McKinnon gloves

Postby ebbets55 » December 8th, 2014, 1:45 pm

They are just a hair smaller and usually have a canvas type cover, not horsehide. I have a couple of Worth Indoor Baseballs. I picture the scene in A League of Their Own where Marla Hooch is taking BP in a gymnasium. You gotta take your cuts in the wintertime I guess.

Also, I saw a bunch of these Worth Indoor Baseballs in an antique store as part of a carnie kewpie doll ball toss display. I couldn't buy them without buying all those feathery, fluffy, zombie-looking kewpie dolls though.

JD
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Re: Bon-Tober and McKinnon gloves

Postby vintagebrett » February 2nd, 2017, 7:30 pm

I did a presentation on the history of baseball gloves for our town's historical society and one of the gentleman that attended sent me some further information on the Bon Tober company. They were located at 17 Goodman Place in Hartford - funny enough, this is a very short distance from where the new ballpark they built is. He also discovered this letter that discusses the sale to McKinnon
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