1900-1920|1900 - 1936
Gift of Stuart L. Goddard

1 lbs.

Wooden "Indian" clubs from Stuart L. Goddard. There are 2 pairs of clubs and one lone club. Though each club is inscribed with the same markings, they are inscribed in different ways. The marks are stamped on to one pair and engraved into the other. The lone club is also stamped. The blemishes on the surface also show that the clubs that were stamped were used more than the engraved ones.

(P. Rowland 6./2004) The "Indian" in the name of these clubs is perhaps misleading. Their historical origin is actually from India rather than Native America. Before being adopted as exercise tools in the 19th century, they were weapons of ancient origin called Gada clubs. Almost all Hindu Gods are depicted holding one or more Gada, and it was considered a sign of physical prowess and worldly power. The British Military stationed in India at the time adopted the clubs in their military exercises, which quickly became an international fitness craze. Sam D. Kehoe, a entrepreneur and fitness devotee, is credited as being the first person to bring the clubs to America in 1861, believing them to be the perfect exercise tool. Though the clubs do not bear a manufacturer's decal, they were most likely made by A.G. Spalding Inc., the other major manufacturer of Indian Clubs in the United States. This set of clubs has a flat base, allowing them to stand independently, which is characteristic of the American variety. Clubs like these were some of the first objects that mark the beginning of America's fitness craze, which was motivated by the links between being in good shape and being a good Christian. Using the clubs involved mostly swinging them with your arms fully extended and tossing them in the air. Their shape should be familiar to anyone who as watched a juggling act, and this was indeed another form of their use. Indian Clubs fell out of vogue in the late 1930's, but they are popular with collectors.

Used: exercise

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