The Driftway Collection Racquet Gallery
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". Soon the rash of racquets available on the market all started to look alike as the new century approached. Those earlier lopsided (tilt-top) and the smaller headed rackets are prized by collectors today, many of them fetching thousands of dollars at auction.
1900 - 1917
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 had evolved and for the collector of these over 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 prized find in the back room of an antique shop.
1917 - 1930
The golden era of tennis introduced recognizable international stars, and the major tournaments were being attended by more and more of them. Racquet design consequently was 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 introduced "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 with the same old style from the past that everybody was familiar with. Tennis was truly on the verge of becoming a huge international sport.