Ping-Pong Ball

At the end of the 19th century, when ping-pong was coming into its own, the ball was generally made of string, rubber, or sometimes even a used champagne cork. It wasn’t until 1901, that James Gibb, an Englishman, discovered celluloid balls in the United States and found them “perfect for the play of ping-pong.” The name of the sport is attributed to the sound the ball makes when it is hit back and forth on the table. The ball itself is 40 mm in diameter, hollow, and made from celluloid. This particular ball was used by the donor, Frank Roche, while a freshman at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1969. He and his roommate bought the ball to play ping-pong for recreation.
Currently not on view
Object Name
ball, ping pong
Date made
ca 1969
Toye, Robert
Roche, Francis D.
Roche, Francis D.
Windsor Star
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
overall: 1 1/2 in; x 3.81 cm
Place Made
United Kingdom: Great Britain
place made
United Kingdom
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Ping Pong
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Sport and Leisure
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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