Believe it or not, stength “machines” have a history that goes back even further than barbells and dumbbells. This “Quarter-Circle Strength Developer” was manufactured by Spalding in the late 1890’s. This was actually a fairly common style of machine and several different companies had their own version. It was an original design by Dudley Allen Sargent for the Hemenway Gymnasium.
Back in 1899, the hottest thing going was Eugen Sandow’s Grip Dumb-Bells which consisted of two dumbbell “halves” joined together by a series of springs.
While they were not the first piece of mail order strength equipment, Sandow’s Grip Dumb-Bells were very close — and they were certainly one of the most well-known.
As one followed the suggested workouts, they could build their forearm strength by keeping the two halves “crushed” together as they trained the rest of their body through various other movements.
Also, according to several of the advertisements, regular training with these dumbbells also improved not only strength but will power and concentration as well.
Sandow’s Grip Dumb-Bells came in a variety of styles and types — ranging from “Basic Black” to nickel-plated models with leather handles. There were also different resistance levels for “Gents” men, women, youths and children. This ad is from 1907.