'Tique Talk ~ About Antique Collecting ~ by Marianne Dow

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Photos by Marianne Dow

Collecting: Antique Ice Skates ~ Curly Blades, Unusual Designs

Doll Skates -- These tiny skates came in a box with a litho picture of a couple skating.

Swan skates, usually made with high curly prow, others made with etched-metal swan head at blade prow, hundreds of dollars to $5000. 
[Image source: VirtualIceSkatesMuseum.com ]

Strap-on ice skates with metal ankle supports, combined with structured boots, and you get the modern boot skate we all know.

Bone skates are mostly found in museums and date back 1500 to 1700 years ago.

I was an ice skater for many years, and that's where Jeff and I met. And yet as an antique collector/dealer, I never thought about collecting antique ice skates. Of course, I have never run across the likes of the skates shown -- some so primitive, and some so intricately fashioned.

View a wonderful collection of antique ice skates, with lots of history and info at the VirtualIceSkatesMuseum.com

The Maine Antique Digest had an  article about ANTIQUE ICE SKATES written by Ann Bates (viewable by subscribers only).

Excerpts from the article:
"...how far back in history the ice skate goes? Fifteen to seventeen hundred years ago, animal bones were strapped to fur-wrapped feet, the method used by hunters to transport themselves over ice and snow..."

"...European influence on skates extended into the early 1800's. Some of the blades had elaborate "turn-overs" in the front (prow) that were ornamental but served a useful purpose as well by helping the blade glide over very rough ice, especially when racing. These interesting skates had blades with holes along their length to create a lighter skate. ..."

" In 1848 E.V. Bushnell, an American mechanic, made an all-metal skate, forging the blade and the foot plate together. ... More than 200 different skate inventions flooded the United States patent office. " 
" During this era the most commonly purchased skates cost around $7 a pair. Both Barney and Berry and Union Hardware antique ice skates are still available in antiques shops, on eBay, and in many other places. B & B was in business until 1919 when the firm was purchased by Winchester Repeating Arms Company of New Haven, Connecticut. At the height of its operation Barney and Berry produced 600,000 pairs of skates annually and employed 250 workers. This explains why there are still many B & B skates on today's market; they sell for $25 to $50. Some rarer skate models, which cost several hundred dollars today, were gold-plated and engraved with the owner's name. Antique children's ice skates are rare and usually more expensive. "

Join the Antique Ice Skate Club www.antiqueiceskateclub.com/.

Watch ebay completed listings for antique ice skates prices.

See the huge archive of vintage art and photos of ice skaters and skates on pinterest.

Vist the World Figure Skating Museum website.

Antique Ice Skates for the Collector by Russell Herner

Here's a 2001 book about antique skates, with a price guide. Available on Amazon (link).


Here is a concise history of skating, from the first bone skates to the early 1900s, and a guide to antique ice skates for collectors and historians alike. It will enable the reader to identify the various skate types, styles, designs, approximate ages, countries of origin, and rarity. More than 250 photographs, lavishly illustrated artwork, and original patent designs present skates from countries such as Holland, England, Germany, and America. A chapter on skaters lanterns is also included. A general price guide will aid in evaluating a collection. This book will pique the interests of collectors and dealers in several fields, including antique ice skates, lanterns, miniatures, and tools.

It begins with an overview; the next four chapters cover ice skates from Holland, England, Germany and America. Then four additional chapters on American Patents, Children's Ice Skates, Ice Skate Accessories & Memorabilia and finally, Skaters Lanterns. There are three more brief chapters on Collectors & Their Collections, a general price guide and a conclusion. The book features glossy pages with hundreds of beautiful large color photographs, several etchings & illustrations, with just the right amount of informative written content, showcasing an extensive antique ice skate collection.

Ms. Dow Antiques Blog 'Tique Talk is published by msdowantiques.com

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