Vintage hunters are always on the lookout for a rare find, which is exactly what happened when my friend Derek scored a pair of vintage mens waterproof boots by Ball Band. These were originally made in Mishawaka Indiana around the 1950s the details and history of these boots are what make it interesting. And after examining the logo stamped on the back I had to do some digging.
I found some history about a Woollen mill in Mishawaka Indiana as well as original newspaper ads that were selling on Ebay featuring various products from when they started. The production started in 1837 on blankets and felt boots. And in 1886 they expanded and established the building as the Mishawaka Woollen Mills Mfg. Co. This put the town on the map and in the History books. Because before the Mill there was no town.
The first boots were made with a black band upper and later they added a red ball stamped on the back. The red ball was later registered and became the official trademark of the company. In 1889 production increased when they added lumberman’s long socks along with Ball Band rubber shoes in 1898. By 1917 – 1918 they were making light rubbers and leather work shoes before producing a popular canvas sport shoe line as well.
These particular boots were workwear and hunting boots made for wet and muddy conditions. And with advancements in rubber production their focus broadened to also supply the auto industry, when Mishawaka developed an improved auto mat in 1933. With further additions to the line: Mishawaka cushions, rubber upholstery and mattresses. This also required that they expand operations to occupy two entirely new buildings. It was the center of the town.
The rubber they obtained to make these mens waterproof boots were from the rubber trees in South America, Asia, Africa. And Rubber orchards of Cey lon, Sumatra and Malayan states. Ball Band boots were sold by roughly 200 salesmen and by about 60,000 retailers and shippers in export trade. And the Ball Band Mill is still marked in the history books today with a monument celebrating it’s history in the town of Mishawaka.
Derek obviously has an eye for finding odd and interesting things. And these 1950s mens waterproof boots are certainly a score. Thanks for letting us feature them!