Sunday, September 29, 2013

1937 Talon Lineup

I got a 1937 dated Talon order sheet the other day with their lineup of zipper designs. 

Some interesting bits from the form: 
As discussed in the previous post, the separable bottomed zipper was introduced by Hookless/Talon in 1930.  It has a folded metal stop-box to mesh the two ends, flanked by reinforcing grommets. From what I've seen and read, I had assumed that the deco/sunburst style stopbox replaced the grommet style. Jackets with the grommet style regularly go for way more than their "deco" zippered brothers. But then here I get this order form, and the two are shown side by side. So, a grommet zip does not assure an early 1930s date of manufacture.  
Style 101 (above):  "In Rainbow Colors: with Automatic lock.  For sweaters and lightweight coat type garments that come apart completely." You sometimes see this style zipper with a brown painted stop box on WWII flight jackets. I have a ski jacket made in this same timeframe that has a green zipper of this design- green tape, green painted teeth, stop box and pull.  

Style 102 (below): "With Automatic Lock.  For wind breakers, jackets, and coat-type garments that come apart completely at both ends."  

The order form includes a number of other zip styles available in that year. Below are the pull styles available.

From left: 
Style 111: In rainbow colors.  Specifically designed for skirt plackets.  Reinforced cross tape at bottom takes up excess strain when skirt is pulled down off the hips.
Style 112: In rainbow colors.  Specifically designed for dress plackets.  Seam guard at top guarantees a free smooth opening and closing.
Style 106: Spectra - Light Weight, non-metal.  Gives brilliant color contrast wherever used.
Style 107: With Automatic Lock - For all types of corsets and girdles
Style 108: In Rainbow Colors.  With Automatic Lock.  For lingerie, children's clothing and neck openings of dresses.

From Left:
Style 103: With Automatic Lock: For neck openings of lightweight dresses, blouses, etc.
Style 105: With Automatic Lock.  For heavy clothing, snow suits, luggage, etc.
Style 110: Pin Lock, for lightweight materials with small openings
Style 109: Pin Lock.  For heavy materials with small openings. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

1930 - The Separable Zipper

Schott NYC claims to have been the first company to put a zipper on a jacket in 1925.

The pictures used to illustrate this claim generally show early models of their asymmetrically zipped motorcycle jacket, later known as the "Perfecto" style (although they don't claim to have invented that style until 1928). The marketing implication is that every zipper fronted jacket which has come since is merely an imitation of their original innovation. Unfortunately, it's all marketing hype. There are two types of zipper, the separable ended zipper and the closed ended zipper. If their marketing "history" is referencing the separable type used as the main zipper on jackets, it did not exist until 1930. If they are referencing the fixed end type, it was used by other makers since the early 1920s, years before they claim to have been the first.

The original design of the zipper featured a fixed end, that is, the two sides of the zipper were permanently attached at the end. This is the type of zipper most typically found on the pockets of leather jackets.  Now this was fine for most early applications: luggage, money belts, corsets, shirt necks, etc., but it limited its usage on jackets to a pull-over or a step-in style.

Hookless fastener had worked on creating a separable bottomed zipper through the late 1920s, experimenting with a variety of designs from c. 1927-1930. Most had fiddly end arrangements, which were difficult to mesh and which were not very secure. A final, working version went into production in 1930.  Below is a copy of the Hookless patent, invented by Elliot O. Seaver. Jacket companies immediately adopted the new fastener, and it can be found ads and products from a variety of makers from that year. This early bent metal version of the stop-box  was produced from 1930 through until at least 1937. It was joined, and eventually replaced by the "deco sunburst" stop-box. More on that in another post.

One of these Hookless grommet zips in the flesh

It's fair to think that Schott may be referencing the non-separable end type zipper, the only type which was actually in production in 1925. Unfortunately, other companies had beat them to the punch by years.  Below is an offering of the "Jiffy Garment Company" of Saint Paul, MN from 1922, a step-in style which did up with the "Lightning Hookless Fastener".

Another early 1920s offering, produced by Guiterman Bros., also of St. Paul, MN can be found on the SunTrap blog. Hunting jackets were early adopters of zippers on their game pouches. This example bears one of the earliest Hookless Zipper I've seen. The last patent date on the slider is from November 1919, with other patents pending.  Going by other patent dates stamped on later Hookless sliders, this jacket dates from the early 1920s.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Introducing: the Cossack

Although the basic style (leather waistband, waist length cut, leather collar) had been around for several years at this point, around 1930-1931, advertisements were run "introducing" the name "Cossack jacket" to go with this style.  The precise definition of the name would get muddier as the 1930s progressed, with manufacturers using it to describe a number of different waist length styles. 

 This early ad describes the "cossack collar".  Traditionally, the term "Cossack Collar" describes a military style stand collar. When flipped up, this suit-style collar would give that look, and is likely the origin of the term for this style of jacket.  Just a few years later, still in the early 1930s, jackets advertised under the term "cossack" started featuring shirt style collars, mouton collars, fancy backs, lost the waistband and the term became more of a catch-all for waist length jackets.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Albert Richard Mackinaw Coats

My previous post on the history of Albert Richard focused mainly on their production of leather jackets. They were also well known for their production of mackinaw coats and of sheeplined coats.  

1937.  While the standard wool mackinaw made by Albert Richard cost $12.50, upgrading to the English-made, Canadian sold Hudson's Bay Point Blanket fabric raised the price to $22.50. The ads pushed their mackinaw coats as being "All American", despite the fabric and design, which are iconic Canadianana.  

Here is an example of a c. 1936/37 Albert Richard mackinaw in the multi-stripe Hudson's Bay Point Blanket material. It would have originally come with a belt, as pictured in the advertisements, but as is often the case with belted jackets, it went missing long ago.  The coat is unlined, and has the pattern on the sleeves oriented 180 degrees from the pattern of the body.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Werber Leather Coat Company, Beacon, NY

The Werber Leather Coat Company was founded by Max Werber and David Itkin. It was originally known as the Itkin-Werber Leather Coat Company, with headquarters at 23 University Place, New York City. Around 1921, the company moved to Poughkeepsie, NY, where a factory was opened a 19 Academy Street.  A second location in Poughkeepsie was opened in a former soap factory at Mill St. and North Perry.

19 Academy Street

In 1927, Werber expanded his operation, moving from Poughkeepsie, NY to Beacon, NY, where he converted a former silk mill at 578 Main Street. The Academy street location was retained, but the South Perry Street property was sold to the city of Poughkeepsie in 1927.  Labor proved scarce in Beacon, and in 1929, Werber considered a move back to his location in Poughkeepsie, where he planned on converting the former Christopher Columbus School to a leather factory (source). He was not able to purchase that property, and opened a small plant, employing 25 workers, in the former Hoag Knitting Mills building on Clinton Square.

In 1929, John Liebman (Lieberman?), later of Aero leather, was convicted of third degree assault after an altercation with David and Alexander Itkin and Abraham Friedman. After Itkin and Werber split, there was a long standing labor dispute. A bloody fight occurred after John Liebman successfully enticed some of Itkin's workers to join Werber. (source)

The 1930s proved a bad time for Werber. In 1931, a portion of the Beacon plant became home to the Strong-Best company, manufacturers of dress, work and sport trousers (source). By the mid 1930s, Werber operated solely on government contracts. A fire did $3,000 damages to the Beacon plant in October of 1933.  In May 1934, following a period of economic hardship, labor disputes, and an ongoing feud with Itkin, the Beacon plant was the victim of an act of arson, which supposedly destroyed $20,000 worth of stock. The fire had been set with gasoline, rags, cardboard, and matches tied with fuses into bundles.  In 1935, the Beacon factory went into foreclosure (source). A walkout and strike took place in 1935 in protest of excessive hours, and pay under NRA scale, and in order to get Max Werber to acknowledge the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Union. The ACWofA sent picketers from New York City.  15 girls from Vassar College joined the picket line. A $0.03 raise ended the strike.  The union was not acknowledged by management, and for a short period, Beacon gained the nickname "scab town".
1936 saw the sale of Werber properties to pay off debts.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Werber employees split from the company in 1937 to form Aero Leather Clothing Co., headquartered just down the road.
The battle with insurance companies over the 1934 arson finally ended in 1938, with the New York Supreme Court setting in favor of Werber. Questions remained as to whether the fire was a deliberate act of fraud, and whether the value of the destroyed goods had been purposely mis-represented to inflate the insurance claim.

 By 1942, the Beacon Plant had been sold, and was the location of the BeeBe corp hat mfgs.

Beacon Werber leather plant

Under the name "Werber Sportswear", the company re-located in 1941 to Newburgh, NY. They had either an office or a plant at 324 Water Street, and a plant at 64 Renwick St., Newburgh, New York. They continued producing jackets into the 1960s.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Albert Richard Leather Jackets

Fried-Ostermann was founded c.1902 as a glove manufacturer. They bought out their competitor, Price Gloves, and relocated production of that company's products to their original factory, located at 617-645 Reed Street, Milwaukee, WI. By 1915, the company had gained a partner, and was known as the Fried, Ostermann, Meyer Co, but that looks to only have lasted until 1917. As the company grew, they relocated to 1645 S. 2nd Street, Milwaukee, WI. 

1909 Ad for Fried-Osterman Co., shortly after acquiring Price Gloves.

Fried-Ostermann diversified out of gloves and into outerwear in the late 1920s with the formation of a new division of the company, called Albert Richard. The leather jackets, mackinaws, overcoats and sportswear produced by Albert Richard would soon come to eclipse the glove-making side of the company.

1932 Ad, courtesy Baron Kurtz Vintage. A really fascinating style, with a band collar, throat latch tab, buttoned cuffs, side buckled adjusters and patch pockets.  The separable bottom zipper revolutionized the jacket market around 1930, allowing for modern full zip fronts which allowed you to put them on "coat style".  In the 1920s, with closed end zippers the only option, pullover styles like this were the only way to use a zipper on a jacket. The convenience offered by the new separable type made this style a rarity by 1932. Please also take note of the wide variety of leather types and colors available.  

Pre-war advertising stressed health and sports, with endorsements from college football players. These ads also talk about bringing items of clothing which were previously thought of as workwear, like mackinaws and leather jackets, into the realm of ordinary streetwear, citing their comfort and durability. 

1936 Ad for a horsehide trimmed Laskinlamb jacket. This style is now referred to as a "Grizzly".

During WWII, the Albert Richard factory made A-2 (contract AC 23383),  M-422A (contract 1406A), M444A and M445A flight jackets under the name of their parent company, Fried-Ostermann.  They advertised leather jackets, overcoats and sportswear heavily during WWII,  giving their jackets model names like the "Spitfire" and the "Meteor". During the war, the company gave away wall-sized posters showing a range of american military airplanes.

1942 Advertisement

850 workers were employed by Albert r in 1946, with plans to hire another 400.  The company was one of the first to use fiberglass insulation in coats, a technology borrowed from b-29 bombers. (source) Sheepskin collared "storm coats" became a signature model after the war. 

1951 Advertisement

President of Fried-Ostermann, Richard Fried, sold their Albert Richard Division to the Drybak corporation of Binghampton, NY in late 1952. (source) Drybak, a maker of canvas hunting clothing was looking to diversify their line. In the deal, they got the licensing, branding, patterns, dealership network, but other than the Vice President and designer for Albert Richard, all of the employees and equipment stayed at the plant in Milwaukee. Fried-Osterman re-focused the attention of their plant on the production of gloves, and on producing leather jackets under house labels for mail order and department stores.

Starting in 1953, under Drybak's ownership, Albert Richard clothing was once again produced, this time under contract at a factory in New Jersey, which Drybak declined to name. (source) The plan at that time was to have production moved to New York by 1954. Labels were changed in this period to read "Albert Richard by Drybak".  In 1955, Drybak acquired the Martin Mfg. Co. in Martin, TN. They closed their Binghamton operations in that same year and relocated their hunting clothing manufacturing and their Albert Richard division to the Tennessee plant to take advantage of the lower labor costs in the south.  (source)

Albert Richard "Shetland" Model from 1951.  Satintan horsehide, Beavertex collar, alpaca lining.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Perry Sportswear - Newburgh, NY

Perry Sportswear was a division of the Royal Coat Company, which also had factories in Boston, MA, and Bangor, ME. They came to Newburgh in 1939, to a building located at the intersection of 3rd and Smith Streets. Their President was Isaac Friedman, Secretary Martin Langer, and Superintendent Eli Marcus. Beginning in 1941, Perry shifted 85% of production for the military - Perry was a notable manufacturer of A-2 flight jackets. (source) During the war, they employed 250 workers. Their NY factory was located at 54 Liberty, Newburgh, NY, and is pictured above. The factory originally housed the Cleveland Whitehill Co., makers of "Newburgh Never-Rip" overalls. It was later home to "Layman, Berkwits and Scott", makers of Mackinaws, suits and overcoats.  (source) Perry occupied the building in the 1940s. The building fell into disuse, and burned in 1981. Today the site is an empty lot.
Grand plans of postwar expansion were not to be. The Newburgh plant was sold in 1946 to a textile company called "Hand Prints". Perry Sportswear Inc. dissolved, taking their equipment from the building.  Workers in the plant were absorbed by the two other factories owned by the Royal Coat Company.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Aero Leather Clothing Company - Beacon, NY

The Aero Leather Clothing Company was founded c. 1937 by former Werber employees Abraham Wolkowitz and John Lieberman. They produced jackets at the former Paterson Overall Co. mill, located at 79 Ferry Street, Beacon, NY. Wolkowitz was born in Poland in 1900, and came over sometime before 1920. He was extremely active in Beacon's Jewish community- a window he donated to the BHA Sanctuary can be seen here. Into the 1940s, Wolkowitz roomed in a house at 56 Teller Ave, Beacon, NY with his younger brother, Ralph Wolkowitz (operator at Aero) and Abraham Kauffman (cutter at Aero) and his family. 

The Aero factory no longer stands, but here is the house where the owner and several employees lived.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Biplane G-1

I love a jacket with a story.
This 1950s USN G-1 flight jacket did the bulk of its service as a loaner jacket for a company doing bi-plane rides in upstate New York.  The lining had shredded and been repaired over the years, exposing the blue elastic that keeps the bi-swing back in check.  The inside was marked, somewhat enigmatically with the town, Poultney, Vermont.  The cuffs had been replaced, the waistband was falling apart, the zipper broken, and the mouton had matted and was starting to go bald.  In short, even for a job where most any jacket will do, it had had it. But every blemish represents hours of flight time on the backs of people chasing the dream and the romance of flight.

Photos (c) Michael G. Stewart Photographer and Vintage-Haberdashers