Treasures from Our West
Winchester roller skates
Gun makers pioneered the technology that eventually placed so many inexpensive machine-made goods in the hands of consumers. Indeed, along with pistols and rifles, arms manufacturers such as Remington, Stevens, and Winchester also used their equipment for the production of tools and general hardware offerings.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company put its name on everything from garden tools to washing machines, promoting those products as being “as good as the gun.” During this time, Winchester manufactured a host of goods such as safety razors and blades, screwdrivers, saws, flashlights, scissors, fishing reels—and even roller skates like the ones pictured here.
It was Dr. James L. Plimpton of Medfield, Massachusetts, who is credited with inventing the roller skate in 1863. Three years later, Everett H. Barney, of Springfield, Massachusetts, patented a metal clamp to fasten the skater’s shoes to the metal roller skates. In 1920, the company was purchased by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
By 1929, Winchester had all but halted its production of these general consumer goods and tools due to their unprofitability. Because of the relatively short production period, these items—including the skates—are highly-prized collectibles.