Last month, I found a very interesting old ice skate at an antique shop. The label is partly worn off, but was sufficient for me to identify it as a Buddy Snow Skate from Falcon, NY.
In my quest to learn more about this skate, I found its patent. This type of skate was invented in the early 1920s by John C. Miller and Robert H. Fayfield of Buffalo, NY. Their goal was to produce cheap, easy to make skates that worked well on snow. In the patent, they stress that the runner—a piece of sheet metal riveted to the bottom of the wood part—must be concave “to prevent side slipping of the skates when in use” and wide enough “to effect a firm contact with relatively soft snowy surfaces.” The runner on my skate is about 2.2 cm wide.
These skates were meant to be used by children on snowy ground. The footbed on mine is about 22.3 cm long, which is definitely child-sized. I wonder how well these skates actually worked. Today’s snow skates seem to work reasonably well.
The only depiction of this type of skate in a book that I’ve found so far is in Jean-Marie LeDuc’s Lace Up. LeDuc dates it to c. 1880 (p. 33), which seems pretty unlikely since it wasn’t patented until 1926.
Jean-Marie LeDuc, Sean Graham, and Julie Léger (2017). Lace up: A history of skates in Canada. Toronto: Heritage House.
John C. Miller and Robert H. Fayfield. Snow skate. US Patent 1,569,520, filed May 16, 1924, and issued January 12, 1926.