Thursday, November 1, 2012

On The Antiquity and use of Chained Rubberband bands for slingshot use

How old is the use of chain linked rubberband bands for slingshot use?


It is said historically that the first patented rubberbands were credited to an Englishman by the name of Thomas Perry in 1845, from here begins the trail of our humble rubberband. However, as much as we must understand the history of rubber itself which goes further back to Mesoamerica whence Colombus first encountered it's use by the ancestors. We must now return to their history within the use of slingshots.
Some say that art imitates life and because of this so much of what we know about history has been traced through an artistic hand. I learned of this from my years as a student of Anthropology and the branch of Archaeology so too can time lines be traced within the paintings left behind by an artist's paint brush, an expression of time. 
 Enter Karl Witkowski, An American artist: this artist gentleman existed between 1860 to 1910 and was influenced by an older artist of the time J.G. Brown (1831 - 1913) like his mentor Karl's art focused on life at that time he made many paintings of the shoe shine boys and paper boys. As many should know it's the paper boys who had the most access to our humble rubberband ( I will elaborate on this aspect soon enough).
Karl Witkowski made a painting titled  The little hunter (circa 1860-1910) which depicts a boy crouched on the side of the tree with a slingshot in hand shooting upwards no doubt the boy is hunting birds.  If you pay close attention to the detail of the boy's slingshot you will see he is using chained rubberband bands on the slingshot in the painting.
A close inspection of the bands on this boy's slingshot reveals the indicative knots of a chain linked rubberband slingshot band.
As can be seen here in this single chained rubberband band. A careful examination reveals the same knots in the boy's slingshot bands that can be seen in this complete chain for slingshot use. When I was a kid in the 1980s my main source for these rubberbands for chaining in slingshot use came from the asforementioned paperboy. 
 It appears that history does repeat itself, as the boys in the artist Karl Witkowski's timeline were paper boys then they too used these rubberbands to make their chain linked rubberband banded slingshots.
The next time someone asks you how old fashioned the use of chained bands are in the use of slingshots, you can deffinately tell them that the chains have been in use for more than 150 years. Of which the chained rubberbands are still used to this day in many a successful hunt with a slingshot.
I dedicate this post to the artist Karl Witkowski who made it possible for us to have an idea as to the antiquity of chained rubberbands in slingshot use and history. 
Happy hunting



  1. When I was a kid in the 1970s South Africa, the bicycle shop in the small town where I lived sold rubber specifically made for slingshots, in two different strengths. If you couldn't get hold of that, you could always cut strips from an old inner tube, which you could get for free at the local car repair shop.

    Some years ago, in a fit of nostalgia, I wanted to make a slingshot for a friend's boy. Only to find to my shock that cars no longer have inner tubes, and slingshot rubber is a thing of the past.

    If I ever want to make one, rubber bands it will have to be, and I'm not sure they'll ever work quite as well. But I'll look around on your fun blog to see what one can use, and perhaps how to chain them! :-)

    1. Thank you for posting, my Maternal grandfather told me he made his slingshots from car innertubes this was in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

      The rubber bands chained are as old in use as the old inner tube bands and very effective for small game, which I use regularly to fill the pot.

      Thanks for commenting