The Development of Skating
Part 2
In early days the Frisians used a special skate for racing purposes. This consisted of a longer blade, from 3/32in. to 1/8in. wide, with the inner edge sharpened about half a millimetre higher than the outer edge in order to give a greater purchase on the ice at the strike off. In Holland it was customary to sharpen the bottom of the blade very flat, whilst in other countries skate was the blade of the old wooden vogue, grooved, a custom, which is still in vogue.
In the middle of the nineteenth century the iron runner of the skate was lengthened so as to extend the whole length of the foot, for formerly it reached only to the middle of the heel; and instead of the customary spike, a screw three-quarters of an inch long was used for the heel. This was a great improvement on the method of fastening used up to that time. There is another kind of skate to be mentioned which was frequently used in those days. This was the Balancing, also called the Tournament skate, which had a symmetrically formed round blade at the toe and heel.
About the year 1850, a great improvement in the skate was made in Philadelphia, where skating at that time was more of an art than in any other part of the United States. The skill of the surgical instrument maker was called upon to produce a skate with both blade and foot-plate made out of the finest quality of steel. As much as fifty dollars has been known to be paid for a single pair of skates. These skates were fastened to the foot by means of straps. Sometimes the straps were interlaced from the toe to the instep, or else three broad straps were used, one at the toe, another at the bend of the foot, and a third at the instep. Later these straps were omitted. Jackson Haines in all probability took his skate model from the Philadelphia skate.
The Devolpment of Skating (Part 3). The Devolpment of Skating Index.