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Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland
Kansas City
Schmelzer’s was founded by John F Schmelzer, a German gunsmith from Oldenburg, who emigrated to Hartford, CT, in 1844 and worked in Colt’s Armoury. He moved to Leavenworth, KS, in 1857 shortly after the birth of his son Charles Joseph Schmelzer in 1856.

From the age of 16 Charles worked in the West as a traveller for his father’s firm selling guns and ammunition from a wagon until moving to Kansas where the business became J F Schmelzer & Sons in 1887 on John’s retirement. Charles incorporated the business as J F Schmelzer & Sons Arms Company in 1896, the other son being Hermann Schmelzer. It became the Schmelzer Arms Company in 1906 and The Schmelzer Company in 1920.

The company expanded to also sell fishing tackle, fireworks, cutlery, toys, tennis and athletic equipment, cameras and, later golfing equipment from a store first on Main Street, Kansas City, then on Delaware Street, and later at 1214-1218 Grand Avenue giving them 45,000 sq ft of retail space, the largest sporting goods seller in the West. Charles Schmelzer told the Kansas City Star in a 1921 interview about his passion for golf which he ‘plays every time he has the opportunity’. The company also sponsored the “All Nations Baseball Team” when baseball was segregated containing black players, Cubans and a Japanese team member playing on the so-called barnstorming circuit. The draft in 1918, and the prohibition of using their Pullman train carriage for non-war use, broke up the team but Schmelzer’s continued as an equipment supplier to the Kansas City Monarchs in the 1920s.

They advertised their connection with the Monarchs in 1928 but sometime between then and 1931 in the Great Depression the company went out of business.

They filed a patent (US no. 213,670) in May 1925 for golf balls but I do not know what the innovation was. In addition to selling clubs and balls they ran a golf school staffed by Jamie Watson and Ernie Ford. In 1921 they published a small book, Little Lessons in Golf written by Watson.

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