The first racquets for the "new and improved game of lawn tennis" were borrowed from the ancient game of court tennis. They fell out of fashion quickly however as the popularity of lawn tennis attracted new manufacturing. Bigger heads took the place of smaller hitting surfaces in the early "boxed sets" and soon the rash of racquets available on the market started looking pretty much alike as the new century approached. These lopsided and smaller headed rackets are prized by collectors today, many of them fetching thousands of dollars at auction.
The great growth of the sport was taking place now, but the variety of racquet styles on the market were few. A standard "convex throat" look had evolved and for the collector of these near 100 year old frames, quality becomes the quest. Certain company logos are more desirable than standard issue. Racquets found in bags or covers guarantee collectability, when you can find them. Intact stringing and the completeness of the decals along with a lightly used patina mark out a prize in the back of an antique shop.
1917 - 1930
The golden era of tennis introduced recognizable international stars and major tournaments were being attended by more and more of them. Racquet design consequently needed to follow in this inventive era. Open throats, laminated and metal frames, even metal strings made the scene. Travel between the US and the UK was getting more common place and the shared manufacturing techniques, as they were, helped push racquet making to a more exacting science.
1930 - 1945
The era of budding professionalism bred photo decal racquets and leather grips over the previously bare wooden handle. Progress was on the move, enameled colors, wind resistant profiles, lighter and more durable was the goal. The manufacturers competed to sell frames by how they looked and felt rather than by simply offering a single utilitarian style that everybody was familiar with. Tennis was truly on the verge of being a major international sport.