Dear Dr. Del Rye,
I always enjoy Helmet Hut information and have a question for you. In high school, we wore a brand of helmet I have never seen elsewhere and never heard of. I even went onto the internet but could not find information and I hope you can help. Our team wore an Ivory Helmet for two of the years I played, of the three and they seemed to be an odd shape as best as I can remember. We were and still are a small school so I don’t know if these were handed down from some big school. Have you heard of this before? Thank you and keep up the good work.
Thank you very much for the question and all of us at HELMET HUT are glad that you enjoy the information we bring to our readers. I noted that your address is located in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In the early 1960’s the Ivory System, INC. maintained their primary office and plant in Peabody, MA and their main manufacturing facility in Salem, MA. They were a well-known reconditioner of football helmets, garnering business from many East Coast high schools and some universities. With their many contacts, they decided to manufacture and sell their own brand of helmet and I suspect that this was the “Ivory Helmet” brand that you wore in high school as most of their market was in the New England region. Copying the more popular designs of the day, they offered a number of different helmet designs.
Ivory Systems HRS Model helmet, top two photos, HMS model similar to MacGregor’s bottom photo
They pushed their one-piece shell HRS six-point suspension model that was very similar in appearance to the Riddell TK helmets. The HMS model also featured what Ivory System touted as their exclusive suspension materials that “has three times the strength of other suspensions” and “…will not stretch out of shape and size because it is impervious to moisture” but the outer appearance was very much a knock-off of the MacGregor line of “Cushionlite” model helmets.
The MacGregor helmet in action on defense
Without photos or actually viewing the helmet you wore, I suspect that this short-lived foray into retail helmet sales by Ivory Systems provided the high school helmet you wore, a rare model indeed. I’m sure this helmet still provides wonderful memories for you.
Once again, thank you for your interesting question.
Dr. Del Rye
Dear Dr. Del Rye,
I know that there were many different companies making football helmets and equipment in “the old days” but a friend who is a collector has two leather helmets from a company named Draper. Did you hear of this before? I appreciate your time, thank you.
William Anberg, Ohio
We may want to rename this specific column “Dr. Del Rye’s New England Area Responses.” I answered another question that made reference to the Ivory System, INC. company that was located in Massachusetts. The Draper-Maynard Company was a venerated manufacturer of sporting goods and athletic equipment located in Plymouth, New Hampshire. They were a highly regarded and active company for many years and a number of their historical items and collectibles are on display at Plymouth State University.
The company dates back to 1881 when Jason Draper and John Maynard partnered up to produce buckskin gloves and then became one of the first to manufacture baseball gloves. They were perhaps best known for this for many decades and some of their gloves are highly prized by collectors. They are even credited with being the first baseball glove manufacturer to produce gloves for specific positions such as the first baseman’s mitt. In short, in the land of baseball history mavens, Draper-Maynard is an icon. Using their company logo of “Nick, the Lucky Dog” they achieved a wide-ranging customer and fan base and Mr. Jason Draper was in fact elected as the first President of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. Mr. Draper passed away in 1913 but the company remained strong. By the 1930’s Draper-Maynard had expanded their operation to include the manufacturer and direct sales of uniforms and football equipment, including leather helmets. In 1937 John Maynard died and the company was sold to the Cincinnati based P. Goldsmith Sons Company who continued to produce and sell under the Draper-Maynard label through 1962. Goldsmith Sons was purchased by and became part of the MacGregor Sporting Goods Company at that time, ending the sales of any Draper-Maynard products. Interestingly, as far back as 1902, the D&M Company of Tokyo, Japan secured rights to import and sell Draper-Maynard products and they still produce their own line of protective athletic equipment bearing the Draper-Maynard brand name in Japan. Lesser known helmet manufacturers such as Draper-Maynard and Nokona for example, made wonderful, quality products that have very much been forgotten over the decades. Your friend has a terrific and valued item from the past.
All the best to you and thank you,
Dr. Del Rye
Hello Dr. Del Rye,
I am a fan mainly of the local high school team but like old time football equipment and photos. Our high school has a hawk on the side, a pretty common decal I think. At the high school game last week two players did not have the hawk on the helmets and I was surprised that they would play without these. How often does this type of thing happen, I am just curious, thank you.
In response to your question, I would state with confidence that in this modern era of football, at the professional level where the NFL demands homogeneity in uniforms and sponsors pay a lot of money to insure that their brand name is prominent, this never occurs. Every player is outfitted as the league dictates, outfitted to wear the same attire, and heavily fined if they don’t. On the college level, again where sponsorship is dominant even for lower level teams, players enter the field of play dressed alike. At the high school level it can differ. Especially at smaller and/or less well financed schools, a player may receive a hand-me-down helmet that is lacking one of the essential design elements that the others have.
Note that number 65 in foreground does not have helmet striping
In some cases, a player will need a special order helmet due to a very large head size or other special physical requirement and because the manufacturer is different from that of the rest of the squad, or perhaps because it arrives after the delivery date of the team’s yearly supply of helmets, it differs slightly in color shade, decal, or striping.
Not a lighting effect, some of these players display gold helmets, some do not
This is less commonly seen now relative to past decades as schools usually order their equipment from one supplier within specific time constraints set by budget availability. We appreciate your question Jim, thank you.
Dr. Del Rye