Moreson’s Glass Ball

Provenance: Ex: Ralph Finch Collection, American Glass Gallery

This beautiful sapphire blue target ball is an enigma. Its origins have perplexed top target ball and shooting authorities in the United States and overseas.

The ball is embossed “MORESON’S GLASS BALL and PATD JUNE 15 1876” horizontally in a smooth bordered band centered on the ball. There is a quilted diamond pattern above and below the center band. Of special note, this is the earliest date yet found embossed on any target ball.

English collector John Hargreaves wrote, “Regarding the embossed copy, all letters and numbers are very sharp and clear, except the “6,” which looks as if it were drawn free-hand; it appears somewhat like a “5,” but it is not a “5.” The 6 is especially faint, but it does look more like an upside-down question mark, in that the top half of the loop is not complete.

The 2 5/8″ diameter glass ball was made from a 3-piece mold and has a rough sheared mouth. It is in perfect condition and considered extremely rare as it is one of only six known examples.

Despite extensive research, no information has ever been found on this ball. In the American Glass Gallery 6-part auction of the Finch Collection, the ball was noted as being Continental, or possibly America, circa, 1876 – 1890.

The June 15, 1876 patent date suggests a United States centennial piece plus it looks like an American ball. Contradicting this assertion is the handful of medium blue examples that exist were found in Europe. One example was found in France, another in Tuscany, Italy in a shooting estate, and another cobalt blue example reported in Belgium in 2009.

The last name spelling of Moreson is also rare. The ancestors of the Moreson family migrated to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The surname Moreson is for a stone-mason. The name was originally derived from the Old English or Old French word masson. A number of Moresons who left Europe for America use Mason or Morison as a last name. Some have suggested that the name may have been misspelled on the ball.

Reference: 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

Reference: Who’s on first? Portlock, Paine, Moreson? Getting to the bottom of the target ball barrel: Who gets the credit for being No. 1?On Target, Ralph Finch

Read: What are target balls? I’m glad you asked! By Ralph Finch, Bottles and Extras, January – February 2008

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