A fine example of a flat top Lawn Tennis Racket by Mahboob of Sialkot (Punjab). The racket has good, original double stringing, 11 treblings to the top and none at the bottom. Not only is it unusual for its bulbous shaped handle with diamond shape criss-cross decoration but also its country and date of manufacture. It is marked in pen to the wedge ‘Mahboob of Sialkot’ and dated 1886. It is thought that sports goods manufacturing industry in India started in Sialkot, Punjab, because an Englishman broke his tennis racket and could not get a replacement. He had it repaired by a local man who did such a good job that an industry was born. Recorded history of the industry goes back to 1895 when the city started becoming famous for its tennis racquets. By 1903, cricket bats were being crafted from imported English willow and exported to different parts of South Asia and beyond. This racket pre dates the known history of racket manufacture in India by 9 years, suggesting that it could be the earliest known Indian made lawn tennis racket. Another theory would be that the racket was made in England for Mahboob but we think this is unlikely as a racket of this unusual design and quality would almost certainly have a manufactures name.
An application was filed in May 8th, 1882, for a handle design. It received a patented on June 13th in the same year. The patent was for a lawn tennis racket handle getting larger and smaller in diameter down the length of the handle. The inventor was Otway E. Woodhouse of 20 Upper Phillimore Gardens, Kensington, London, England. Taken from the book ‘Buch der Tennis Rackets’ by Siegfried Kuebler, as is the handle patent picture.