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September 3, 2022

Walter Camp judge's ribbon

Finding anything once belonging to Walter Camp is practically impossible outside of Yale Archives.  Here is a wonderful judge's ribbon from the 1915 Penn Relay Race Carnival which personally belonged to Walter Camp.  University of Pennsylvania would customize these ribbons for each Relay judge.  This particular piece states along the edge "One To Whom College Athletics Owes A Great Debt".  There is no understating the profound influence Walter Camp had on 19th century sports, particularly football.  The "Father of American Football" played halfback for Yale from 1876-1882.  The line of scrimmage, use of downs and creation of the quarterback position were created by Mr. Camp.  

March 22, 2022

1896 Football Team Supplement

On November 23, 1896 the Daily Pennsylvanian, the University school newspaper, published a wonderful poster of the 1896 Varsity Football team.  This poster, or supplement, was 20 x 28 inches and composed of halt tone cuts of each varsity starting player.  The photos were taken by Gilbert & Bacon Photography Studios in Philadelphia two weeks prior.  These supplements were sold around campus for initially 10 cents each, then a few weeks later the price dropped to 5 cents.  They were marketed as the "Official Picture" of the 1896 football team.  Here are a few advertisements published in the Daily Pennsylvanian.


Given the size and fragile nature of this supplement, very few survived over the years.  We were very fortunate to acquire this pristine original example from a private collector.  

November 25, 2020

dr. george coates upenn bicycle awards

George Morrison Coates was born on March 24, 1874 in Germantown, PA to Joseph Hornor and Elizabeth Gardner (Potts).  He attended Haverford Preparatory School, where he was active in football, baseball and track.  After his graduation in 1890, he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania.  At UPenn, he was captain and manager of the 1894 Varsity track and bicycle teams.  He was a close personal friend/fraternity brother of fellow bicyclist and UPenn classmate, Winchester Osgood.  From 1893-95, the two of them went back-and-forth setting (and breaking) their own collegiate records for the one and two-mile bicycle races.  He also played on the 1894 class baseball and football squads.  George Coates received his bachelor degree from the College in 1894 and subsequent Medical Degree in 1897.

Winchester Osgood and George Coates (two right bicyclists), 1893

Dr. Coates had a distinguished 60-year medical career in the Philadelphia area as an ear, nose and throat physician.  He was emeritus professor of otolaryngology at his alma mater.  He received the first Award of Merit from the American Otological Society in 1949 and like honor from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology in 1946.  He was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and First World War, where he reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was U.S. Commanding Officer of Base Hospital 56 in Allerey, France.

In 1910, he married Mildred Aspinwall Hodge.  They had two children, Elizabeth Gardner and George Woolsey.  Dr. Coates passed away suddenly at his home near Philadelphia, PA on February 10, 1960.

George Coates, 1894

Below are several amazing UPenn track and bicycling awards with related ephemera, all which belonged to Dr. Coates.  A special thanks to the Coates family for sharing these wonderful artifacts with us.

1891 Bank Clerk's Athletic Association Gold Medal

1891 Spring 2 mile Bicycle medal

1892 Spring Games - 2 mile Bicycle Gold medal

Class 1894 vs Class 1895 on April 26, 1892 - Half Mile Run Gold medal

1893 Spring Games - 2 mile Bicycle Silver medal

1893 UPenn vs Cornell - 2 mile Bicycle Gold medal

April 28, 1894 Spring Games Athletic Program with LAW bicycle application.  The League of American Wheelman sanctioned all amateur bicycle races during this period to ensure the integrity of the sport.

1895 UPenn vs Cornell Championship Games Program with Dr. Coates 3rd-place medal for the 2 mile bicycle race. The 1894 contest between the two schools was postponed, hence the etching of the "5" on the medal.

Franklin Field, named after Benjamin Franklin, opened on April 20, 1895 for the first annual Penn Relay - the oldest and largest track & field competition in the United States.  This is the program from that historic event.  Several UPenn football players competed in various games that day- William Worth (1 mile walk), Win Osgood (2 mile bike), George Brooke (pole vault, shot put), Charles Wharton (shot put, hammer throw), Alden Knipe (shot put, hammer throw) and Wylie Woodruff (shot put, hammer throw).

Two bicycle trophies (1892-93) awarded to Dr. Coates

August 27, 2020

1894 Buchtel team Photo (with John Heisman)

During a three day period from September 5-7 in 1894, a tournament of football games was played at the annual Ohio State Fair and Industrial Exposition in Columbus.  “The crowd….was made up almost entirely of people who never saw a football contest before, and the great majority did not know which team was which,” the Columbus Dispatch reported the next day.  The opening act featured a relatively inexperienced local team, Ohio State University, versus the Akron Buchtel Zippers and their 24-year-old star quarterback/coach – John William Heisman.  Heisman was previously a substitute center and starting end for the 1889-91 University of Pennsylvania football teams.  He graduated from UPenn Law in 1892 before beginning a two year coaching stint at Buchtel College (now University of Akron).  Buchtel won this game against OSU 12-6; their lone opponent of the entire 1894 season.  They were supposedly awarded 15 new football outfits and 10 new footballs for their victory and highest score of the tournament, though contemporary reports vary slightly on the exact prize.  Regardless, it was one of the first victories in John Heisman’s illustrious 36 year Hall of Fame coaching career.  The annual award for the most outstanding NCAA football player is named today in his honor.

Below is an original photograph of the 1894 Buchtel College football team, with John Heisman sporting his University of Pennsylvania varsity sweater (far right).  Also featured is a signed first edition copy of John Heisman’s book, “Principles of Football”. 

July 12, 2020


Winchester Osgood was 'ushered into the mysteries' of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity in the Spring of 1889 while attending Cornell.  He was an active member of the Kappa Nu chapter (1889-92) and continued his involvement with the Beta chapter (1892-95) upon his transfer to the University of Pennsylvania.  After graduation, he was active with the Zeta chapter at Indiana University while coaching their football team (Fall 1895).  One of Win's most coveted possessions was his Phi Gamma Delta pin.  When he deployed to Cuba, he sent his fraternity pin to his father, Colonel Henry Osgood, for safekeeping.  Below is a statement from Colonel Osgood in 1901 when he came across another member of Phi Gamma Delta while serving in Cebu, Philippines:

"I am glad to meet you.  When my boy went to Cuba two years before the Spanish War he left in my care his Phi Gamma Delta pin, and since his death I have often worn it in hopes thereby of meeting some member of his fraternity.  He loved the fraternity dearly; and I am most happy to meet a member of it."

Below is Winchester Osgood's actual Phi Gamma Delta fraternity pin.  It was discovered fastened to his father's Royal Order of the Loyal Legion medal (Civil War society).  Below that is a couple photographs of Winchester Osgood from 1894 wearing this exact pin. 

November 9, 2019

1894 Univ of Penna Pendant

The 1894 University of Pennsylvania football team was arguably the Quakers at their finest, going 12-0 and outscoring their opponents 366 to 20.  Key victories were against Harvard, Cornell and Princeton.  After defeating Princeton 12-0 in Trenton, Princeton faculty mandated to "discontinue their contests with UPenn on account of the intense feeling of rivalry between the institutions, which would lead to undue roughness and engender more bitter feelings".  Princeton refused to play University of Pennsylvania for another 42 years!  UPenn tried to schedule a game with undefeated Yale for the 1894 Championship but Yale refused.  There were a record five players on the 1894 UPenn team which would later be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame - Charles Gelbert, George Brooke, Winchester Osgood, Charles Wharton and John Minds.

Below is a wonderful pendant of this 1894 championship team.  This vertical "T" style pin with catch is approximately 3 5/8 by 1 11/16 inches in diameter.  Constructed in nickeled brass with a clear celluloid of the Quaker team by Torsch & Lee, a 19th century silk badge company out of Baltimore MD.  

Big thanks to our friends at 'Football of Yore' for helping us track down this artifact.  They have a fantastic blog on 19th century football memorabilia from their impressive private collection.  Pay them a visit at

October 20, 2019

Richard Simmons

Richard H. Simmons was born July 5, 1869 in Penzance, England and was eighteen months old when he came to America. He attended the local schools of Shamokin PA and began work as a clerk in a drug store. In 1890 he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with his Medical Degree in 1893. During his Penna days he played left end for the varsity football team from 1891-93. After graduation he established a successful medical practice, was a Medical Officer in the US Army during WW1 and medical inspector with the Pennsylvania State Department. Dr. Simmons passed away on July 31, 1948.

Below are Dr. Simmons 1891 UPenn football skull cap and stockings.  The stockings unfortunately shrunk after being washed in 1969.  

Richard Simmons 1891 skull cap

Richard Simmons football stockings

Richard Simmons knit cap (circa 1892)

Big thank you to Ellen Campbell and the Simmons family for this wonderful contribution.  The above items will be featured in a future traveling exhibit by our friends at

Charles Gelbert's 1894 Championship Gold Ring

A signet gold ring by Simons & Brother Jeweler was crafted for each starting member of the Championship 1894 University of Pennsylvania football team.  A similar silver ring was given to the team substitutes.  The ring is engraved along the top with "UofP" and "1894" with a football in the center.  Along both sides are crescent moons.  Along the inner band is engraved "Charles S Gelbert, Left End".  If you look closely at the 1895 University of Pennsylvania football team photo you can see Dr. Gelbert wearing this exact ring on his left ring finger (see below).  This particular ring was subsequently resized for his son, which smoothed out a portion of the inner etching.


Charles Gelbert's 1896 Football Silver hairbrush

This silver hairbrush was awarded to each starting member of the 1896 University of Pennsylvania football team.  The 4 x 3.5 inch wooden hairbrush is covered along the top with silver plating.  A second gold plate is centered on the top, with red (UofP) and blue (1896) enamel over a raised football.  Engraved along the top is "CSGJr", representing the initials of Charles Saladin Gelbert Jr.  Along the bottom is engraved "Left Half Back", his primary position in 1896.  Charles Gelbert was a 3x All-American for the University of Pennsylvania from 1894-96, where he played guard, left end and half-back.  

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