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A Real Racket

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Question: These wooden Pancho Gonzales-endorsed rackets would be great for a summer display. Were they made for badminton or tennis? Are rackets like these collectible?

Answer: The Western Sporting Goods Company in Chicago used the J.C. Higgins brand name on baseballs and baseball gloves, which were sold in Sears catalogs. By 1910, the J.C. Higgins trademark was extended to cover footballs and basketballs and, later, tennis equipment. The thickness of the shaft and the Pancho Gonzales facsimile autograph on the throat reveal that these are tennis rackets. Richard "Pancho" Gonzales (1928-1995) was a champion American tennis player. Winner of 17 major singles titles, Gonzales was the No. 1-ranked tennis player in the world from 1952 to 1960, according to the Tennis Hall of Fame. The Gonzales endorsement dates these rackets from the 1950s to 1960s. Gonzales also endorsed Spalding rackets. Wooden rackets from this era sell for $15 to $30 each, when in good condition.

-- By Tom Hoepf, associate editor of Auction Central News

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