Object of the Month

July Object of the Month: An Odd Ball

half ball
The half cricket ball from the Montagu Odd & Co. shop which operated in Sutton and later Cheam

Cricket, a distinguished past-time, well established in England and around the world with millions of fans and followers. While the masses of enthusiasts for the sport regularly follow a range of fixtures, matches, clubs and teams, perhaps far fewer consider the intricate elements that make the sport what it is today. Our object of the month for July offers a glimpse into the world of cricket manufacturing from our very own London Borough of Sutton. It is a cricket half ball from Montagu Odd & Co.

Cricket balls are quite complex in their structure. The specific styles and techniques used to create them are varied and their merit debated. The half ball allows manufacturers to highlight the features of their particular product for potential customers.

Interior
The interior structure of the demonstration cricket ball

The half cricket ball here, inscribed with a weight of 5 ½ oz, (155.9g), offers a bisection of a ball that would likely have been used for matches played by men and boys over 13. Looking closely you can clearly see the inner core of cork wrapped in tightly wound string followed by alternating layers of cork and further filament before being covered with a four part outer-casing of leather which has been dyed red. The quality of the materials and the stitching used to manufacture the ball would be of great importance as an indicator of essential qualities such as shape retention, bounce, and durability.

backing
The dyed leather exterior with inscription and intricate stictching

This particular half ball was used as a demonstration item in Montagu Odd’s shop to demonstrate the structure and integrity of his handmade cricket equipment. While this object was used to illustrate the features of their cricket balls, the Odd shop was renowned for the production of superior quality handmade willow cricket bats. To learn more about the shop and see more tools of the trade visit our temporary exhibition now on at Cheam Library (Church Rd, Sutton SM3 8QH), available for free during regular opening hours.

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