Jul
26
2007
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Lawn tennis balls

Lawn tennis balls 1922
Diameter 8,2 cm
Weight 58 g

Having originally relied on imports of rubber cores from Germany, Britains tennis ball makers emerged from the Great War in patriotic mood. “Buy Ayres and you buy British’ was one slogan, while Slazenger, established from Silesia, stamped on their goods, ‘Made Entirely in England’.
Joing them in this highly lucrative market were Gray’s, Wisden, Spalding, Sykes and tyre makers Dunlop, from their huge Fort Dunlop works in Birmingham in 1918.
Slazenger had entered the business in 1885. But their biggest coup came in 1902 when they ouste Ares as suppliyers to Wimbledon. It later emerged that Slazenger were donating the balls for free, a revelation that forced the club secretary to resign. But he soon bounced back, as managing director of Slazenger, and the company has retained the Wimbledon contract ever since.
These unused balls from 1922 were among the last made in Melton covers still stiched by hand. Thereafter, as shown at the Ayres factory in 1925, covers were glued, thereby creating the familliar seam pattern that endures today.
Also dating from that era is the measurment of ‘bound’. As established in 1924, when dropped from 100 inches onto a rigid surface a ball should bounce no less than 53 inches and no more than 58. Currently some 360 milion tennis balls a year are produced to that standard, just one of many standards in international sport that can be truly said to have been ‘Made Entirely in England’.