American Target Balls

While the majority of the balls shown on the following pages are from your editor's collection, most of the photos are courtesy of Jim Hagenbuch of Glass Works Auctions and Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions.

American Target Ball 001 American Target Ball 002 American Target Ball 020
1. Medium yellow amber, very rare, with three sizes of embossed circles around entire ball, often referred to as the "nickle-dime-quarter" ball. 2. Medium yellow amber with a series of horizontal lines on the side and "dots" on front and back. Sometimes called the "stars and bars" ball. 3. Aqua with a series of horizontal lines on the side and "dots" on front and back. Sometimes called the stars and bars" ball. Aqua is rare.
American Target Ball 004 American Target Ball 005 American Target Ball 006
4. Amber, embossed on this side, "Bot Of Jas. Bown & Son, 136 Wood St., Pittsg. Pa." 5. Same ball as 4, but other side embossed: "Manufacturers and Dealers In Fire Arms" 6. Cobalt blue, embossed in center band, "Bogardus' Glass Ball Patd. Apl 10, 1877"
American Target Ball 007 American Target Ball 008 American Target Ball 009
7. Medium yellow amber, blown in a 5-piece mold. (A 3-piece mold is standard.) 8. Medium cobalt blue, blown in a three-part mold. 9. Medium apricot puce, diamond pattern with blank center band and a ground lip.
American Target Ball 010 American Target Ball 011 American Target Ball 012
10. Amber, six horizontal bands. 11. Cobalt blue, six horizontal bands. 12. Yellow olive, "Ira Paine's Filled Ball Pat. Oct. 23, 1877" embossed around center. Paine balls could be purchased empty or filled with feathers.
American Target Ball 013 American Target Ball 014 American Target Ball 015
13. "Bogardus' Glass Ball Patd Apr 10 1877" around center band, often called the "Hobnail Bogardus". 14. Clear glass with a faint olive tint, blown in a two piece mold. While not particularly valuable, this is a very uncommon ball. 15. Yellow amber, blown in a three piece mold.
American Target Ball 016 American Target Ball 017 American Target Ball 018
16. Called a pitch ball, this hollow ball is embossed on the base with "SEPT 19 1879 (?) MARCH 9 1880" in a circle around "CTB PAT (—) CO." on three horizontal lines. 17. Detail: This is a standard sized ball, assumed to have been made by the Composition Target Ball Co. of Greenville, Pa. This is a relatively uncommon ball. 18. Deep emerald green, "Bogardus' Glass Ball Patd. Aprl 10, 1877" around center band. This is the variant with the number "8" in a diamond above the letter "A" in April. Other numbers are also found in that diamond.
American Target Ball 019 American Target Ball 003 American Target Ball 021
19. Yellow amber, "Ira Paine's Filled Ball Pat. Oct. 23, 1877" embossed around center. 20. This is an extremely rare purple ball (similar to 23/24 below), a one-of-a-kind which sold from the Alex Kerr collection in 2007 (and resold in 2010), until a second example surfaced in 2012. This J.H. Johnston ball from Pittsburgh was offered by American Bottle Auctions, and is embossed with 26 words. 21. Yellow with amber and olive tone, "Bogardus' Glass Ball Patd. Apr 10, 1877" around center band. This is the variant with the number backward "6" in a diamond above the letter "T" in Pat..
American Target Ball 022 American Target Ball 023 American Target Ball 024
22. Amethyst color, three piece mold with circle around base. 23. Embossed on the front in five lines is: "FROM / J.H. JOHNSTON / GREAT WESTERN GUN WORKS / 169 SMITHFIELD ST. / PITTSBURGH, PA." 24. Embossed on the back, in six lines, is: "RIFLES SHOTGUNS / REVOLVERS AMMUNITIONS / FISHING TACKLE / CHOKE BORING REPAIRING / & C. / WRITE FOR PRICE LIST." This rare ball comes in several colors.
American Target Ball 025 American Target Ball 026 American Target Ball 027
25. Embossed "C.G. PURDY'S BULLS (EY)E," with flat sides. (The "EY" part of the mold has been filled in. "PAT'T APP'D FOR" is embossed in a circle, on the base. This is a very unusual and very exciting ball. This ball sold for $8,000 in October, 2008. 26. The shape, the embossing, the company name and brand name all add up to a very unique piece. So far, only two examples are known (to me). Alex Kerr had one. The Purdy ball and its trap are not to be confused with the Purdey gun company of London, England. 27. The Bogardus name is synonymous with target balls; in fact, some English collectors refer to all glass balls as "Bogardus balls" as some people refer to all preserving jars as "Mason jars."
American Target Ball 028 American Target Ball 029 American Target Ball 030
28. "C. BOGARDUS' GLASS BALL PATd APR *10th 1877" is embossed in a circle on the base only! The pattern isn't the usual quilting with a center rib, but instead is quilted with 1/8-inch diamonds all over except the 1 1/4-inch clear area on the base, where the embossing is located. (*Date may also read without the "th".) 29. A side view of ball No. 28. The "C" here is short for "Capt." Very rare, and it also is found in green. 30. The balls patented by Capt. Adam H. Bogardus were very popular in the late 1800s, and likely were made by many glasshouses both in the U.S. and in England. Among the reasons to collect Bogardus balls is the wide array of colors these balls come in.
American Target Ball 031 American Target Ball 032 American Target Ball 033
31. This is the very rare "Shooting Gallery" ball. It is embossed "FROM BOGARDUS & CO. SHOOTING GALLERY 158 SOUTH CLARK ST. CHICAGO" in a 2-inch circle on the base. The rest of the three-piece-mold ball is quilted. Around the mouth, in a circle, is "BOGARDUS GLASS BALL PAT'd APR 10 77." 32. Same as #31. This is an extremely desirable ball for several reasons: It has eye appeal; the quilted pattern is different; base-embossed balls are unusual; it has an address; it has the Bogardus name; it says SHOOTING GALLERY; and it's from Chicago, a hub of serious glass collectors. 33. "Liddle & Kaeding Agents" is embossed in a circle on one side of this very rare ball likely made by the San Francisco Glass Works. There are two known examples: In 1977, these two balls were discovered while workers were digging in Marysville, Calif., during downtown redevelopment. Liddle & Keading were San Francisco gun merchants, located at 418 and/or 538 Washington St. Another version of this ball comes in amber.
American Target Ball 034 American Target Ball 035 American Target Ball 036
34. This extremely rare ball is embossed "Sure Break / Patent / Apl'd For." Also shown in picture #35. 35. The unusual ball has three series of concave panels around the ball. There are at least two different molds; the ball with sharper corners perhaps is the rarer version.

So far, it has been found only in amber.
36. Embossed "PATD SEPT 25th 1877" in a circle about a half-inch down from the neck. The patent calls for the ball to be rolled in sand, but this example wasn't. It is found in a variety of colors, and is a very desirable ball.
American Target Ball 037 American Target Ball 038 American Target Ball 039
37. Ira Paine's balls also come in a variety of colors, and with some variation to the embossing. Paine patented perhaps the first ball trap, a rubber-band device not unlike a slingshot. 38. Ira Paine died Sept. 10, 1889, in Paris, where he was performing at the Follies Bergeres. "One evening after leaving the theater, being overheated, he drank a few glasses of cold beer in rapid succession. He was attacked with strangulated hernia, and the most heroic measures taken by his physicians were of no avail, and he expired in great agony after an illness of 48 hours," reported a period newspaper. 39. I know nothing about this ball, marked "SAGOR" on the center band, except that in 35 years, it is the only one I've ever heard of. But rarity doesn't always translate to desirability, since no one knows what "Sagor" means. In fact, it may not be an American-made ball.
American Target Ball 040 American Target Ball 041 American Target Ball 042
40. A very rare hobnail-pattern target ball; embossed on a small lower panel is: "Patent Applied For." 41. This ball is totally quilted except for a circle about 11/2 inches wide on the base. In that circle, in a circle, is embossed "From F.G. Hopkins, St. Jo. Mo." In small letters, in a small, tight circle around the neck is embossed: "Bogardus Glass Ball Patd Apr 10 (obliterated)". 42. The bottom of ball No. 41. In small letters, in a small, tight circle around the neck is embossed: "Bogardus Glass Ball Patd Apr 10 (obliterated)." This is a very rare ball.
American Target Ball 043 American Target Ball 044 American Target Ball 045
43. This ball is embossed "C NEWMAN". In 1876, Carlton Newman was the co-founder of the San Francisco Glass Works. A relatively rare ball. 44. This is an extremely uncommon color for a target ball. It likely is a cousin to the ball often found in amber or topaz, and they almost always have a ground mouth —that's very rare in target balls 45. Target balls occasionally are offered by unknowing dealers as Christmas ornaments, and in fact were used as such. This ball has, in gold paint, "Millie Lines, 1892," and has a metal spring inserted into it.
American Target Ball 046 American Target Ball 047 American Target Ball 048
46. Is this ball a target ball? It has a horizontal rib pattern similar to others, but is just a hair smaller than known balls, and is in clear; most early balls were amber or blue. 47. The Bogardus name is very popular with collectors, who also appreciate the wide spectrum of mold designs and colors available. 48. Is this ball a target ball? It is the right size, has a quilted pattern similar to other balls, but is clear, has an odd neck, and the only one known so far in my 35 years of collecting.