Embossed Cross Insignia on base Target Ball

Provenance: Ex: Ralph Finch Collection, American Glass Gallery

Just about all target balls are identifiable by what is embossed on the ball. Advertising balls can have the patent date, the proprietor name, their business, address, and city. Some even list the glasshouse. This Johnston target ball pictured below is covered in typography and reads in uppercase letters, “From J. H. Johnston Great Western Gun Works – 169 Smithfield Street Pittsburgh, Pa. – Rifles Shotguns – Revolvers Ammunition – Fishing Tackle – Choke Boring Repairing & C. – Write For Price List.”

Many target balls simply have patterns embossed on the face and some have both patterns and embossed text. The reason most target balls are not smooth is that when struck by shot, there is more of a chance for a successful break if the shot is not deflected off a smooth surface.

Our subject 2-5/8″ diameter target ball is somewhat of a mystery in that there is no information embossed on the glass face. This makes it difficult to research. All we know is that it has a pronounced embossed cross or ‘X’ on the base. It could even be a ‘plus’ symbol. There are two crude, non-parallel stick lines flanking the cross mark. These three primitive marks occur within an embossed base mold circle. The entire ball was blown in a 3-piece mold and has a rough sheared mouth.

We see this look on other American target balls such as the Embossed Diamond Motif on Base Target Ball which is pictured below.

Support: Lot 622: Large, embossed cross insignia (on base), Target Ball, America, 1875 – 1900. Attractive light golden amber, large embossed cross, or “X” motif, on base, 3-piece mold, wide neck with rough sheared mouth, dia. 2 5/8”, perfect. Nice character and clarity to the glass. A very attractive target ball. – The Ralph Finch Collection of Target Balls, Traps and Shooting Ephemera, An Absentee Auction in Six Parts – 2017-2019, John Pastor and American Glass Gallery

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