Sometimes I don’t know how I manage to run across the forgotten and obscure bits of sportswear history, but I’m glad I do. In this case, it was an item I had no idea even existed – an ankle support. But HippieSewingMama had it for sale on ebay, and I somehow located it, and now it’s a part of my collection.
For all athletic purposes, though I suspect that even large ladies would not have been using this to help out in a football game.
The support is actually a soft brace, sturdy enough to actually help someone suffering from wobbly ankles. It’s made from a strong cotton, and is padded.
Henry James Collis of Taunton, Massachusetts made his first ankle brace in 1906, but the original design was rejected by the patent office as a very similar brace predated his. He was eventually able to get his patent (note that my box reads “Design Protected”) and over the next few years he continued to patent improvements to the original design.
My ankle support does not have the vertical lines shown as numbers 14 and 15 in the drawing. These were pockets for “removable stiffening strips” and I imagine many of them were actually removed as the idea seems a bit uncomfortable to me.
The view from the front.
I’m not sure how long Collis made his ankle supports, but here they are in a 1935 Lowe & Campbell Athletic Goods catalog. According to this ad, the removable stiffening strips were reeds. Like I said earlier, uncomfortable!
I have found out very little about Henry James Collis. He was born in Great Britain in 1873, and died in Massachusetts in 1960. He held patents not only for ankle supports, but also wrist supports, padded skate straps, an improved watch fob strap, and billfolds. A search on ebay turned up several canvas items with a H.J. Collis label, including a fishing creel, a game bag, and a holder for fishing flies. In other words, Collis was a manufacturer of canvas sporting accessories.