Author Topic: Help wanted with family Pogo Stick tale  (Read 942 times)

Offline Candolim_Imp

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Help wanted with family Pogo Stick tale
« on: Tuesday 07 April 09 21:22 BST (UK) »
Perhaps a more peculiar thread.... My GG grandfather was a Danish sailor who settled in Liverpool after his marriage to a local girl in 1885. He was a steward and interpreter for the White Star Line, but became a docker in the last few years of his life (re-registered as an alien seaman in 1916 and died in 1920, so was presumably only on the docks after 1916).

My grandmother 1910 - 1999) was the eldest of his grandchildren, and his favourite. When she was about 8 or 9, her Danish grandfather gave her a wooden pogo stick.

We are certain that this pogo was one of the "spoiled" cargo from Germany to the US, destined for Gimble Brothers' Department Store. The wooden pogos warped in the damp ship during the passage and were "unusuable", so Gimble Brothers approached George Hansburg to come up with a better design. He patented his metal Pogo stick in 1919.... as far as I can make out, this was the first patent ever taken out on a design for a pogo stick.

Sailors and dockers have long had "arrangements" where a cargo was either falsly reported as spoiled... or slightly/partially damaged cargos reported as completely ruined... then the sailors/dockers share the undamaged cargo amongst themselves... usually selling it on cheaply. As the cargo was claimed to be spoiled, the owners would claim on insurance... so almost everyone was happy!!!

Owing to he timing of the pogo coming into my grandmother's posession, and the fact that her grandfather was well established in sailing/dock circles, we are certain this pogo was one of the "spoiled" cargo. She told us how they were the envy of the neighbourhood... as no-one else had ever seen one before.

I'm keen to find the information on the circumstances around the shipment and insurance claim. Many ships travelling from Germany to the USA would have stopped in Liverpool.... was the cargo unloaded here and taken directly home to his grand daughter?... or was the warping discovered in the USA, in which case my GG grandfather may have still been at sea (doing the trans-Atlantic runs), where he picked it up and brought it home... or maybe he was on the docks by then and got it from a sailor coming in from the USA.

I have found a photo of an original wooden pogo stick which matches a replica of the original 1918 design (pre-patent). The original in the picture is warped, and I believe it is also from the original "spoiled" shipment. (photos attached)



Hodge; Southport, Lancs
Pugh; Salop, Liverpool
Hulm; Bootle, Southport
Guildford; Liverpool
Clausen; Denmark, Liverpool
Yapp/Yopp; Salop
Marshall, Rimmer, Howard, Johnson, Jackson; Southport
Bury; Heref, Herts
Dady; Norfolk, Southport
Colebourne; Liverpool
Small; Barbados, Liverpool
Murray; West Indies, Liverpool
Williams; Africa, Liverpool
Jenner; Glos

Offline Candolim_Imp

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Re: Help wanted with family Pogo Stick tale
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 12 April 09 11:03 BST (UK) »
No-one able to ffer any advice on my Pogo stick search?

If it makes a difference... I mis-spelled the store's name... it was Gimbels department store, not Gimbles.
Hodge; Southport, Lancs
Pugh; Salop, Liverpool
Hulm; Bootle, Southport
Guildford; Liverpool
Clausen; Denmark, Liverpool
Yapp/Yopp; Salop
Marshall, Rimmer, Howard, Johnson, Jackson; Southport
Bury; Heref, Herts
Dady; Norfolk, Southport
Colebourne; Liverpool
Small; Barbados, Liverpool
Murray; West Indies, Liverpool
Williams; Africa, Liverpool
Jenner; Glos

Offline Pogo_Enthus

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Re: Help wanted with family Pogo Stick tale
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 01 May 21 23:04 BST (UK) »
First, I would like to thank you for posting your inquiry about the pogo stick.  I recently submitted research for a Harvard course.  There are many indications that Hansburg may not have been involved in the process to improve and patent the pogo stick back in 1919 or 1920 despite several reference materials in paper and online claiming his involvement. Most probably, this is the case of a story that has been accepted as truth merely because so many continue to perpetuate it without researching the facts.  Perhaps, Hansburg and his company may have even encouraged those stories to develop a closer tie between them and the pogo stick in the consumer's minds. It does appear, though, that the pogo stick inventors were Germans who improved the design in Germany in 1919 and patented it in 1920.  Other inventors in 1920 and 1921 then enhanced that new German design. 

As for the warped pogo sticks, if they existed at all, they would not have warped in the short distance from Germany to England, so any warping would have happened during the longer sea voyage.  I have not found conclusive evidence that Gimbels did, in fact, procure a shipment in 1919.  Other department stores did, but the earliest shipments to America were in 1920.  It is more probable that your Danish gg-grandfather may have found one in Germany if his travels took him there or even aboard a ship with a shipment from Germany to France or England directly since those nations were the first ones to enjoy pogo sticks after Germany's improved models appeared.  The warped look may have been due to the inferior quality of wood and the scarcity of materials, such as metals, in Germany during the post-WWI years, which led to German products of lesser quality.

Finally, I lament that you do not have a photo of your grandmother's actual pogo stick.  The model in the photograph which you included appears to be fashioned according to  modern "authentic replica" produced by a company whose owner was... Hansburg until he sold the company shortly before he passed away.  Having reviewed many patents for pogo sticks from the early 20th century, I have not yet found one submitted by Hansburg until the 1950s nor have I found any early pogo sticks with a dual stick frame such as the one in the photo.  That design appeared much later by the 1950s. Regardless, it would prove exciting to find any concrete evidence, such as photos or advertisements from the years prior to 1921, showing a dual stick frame.  I noticed that your post is from several years ago.  If you have obtained any further conclusive proof and would be inclined to share that information with me, I would be grateful for your kindness. Regardless, I appreciate learning your family's history as related to the pogo stick and again thank you.