Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Mouton Collared "Storm Coat"

The "Storm Coat" took the basic form of the trench coat, usually made in gabardine, and combined it with the construction of the sheeplined mackinaw, adding a mouton collar and either a sheepskin or an alpaca lining for extra warmth. Generally these coats had extremely padded, squared off shoulders, contrasted with the heavy drape of the material.  The coat on the far right illustrates this exaggerated shoulder the best. These were popular in the mid 1940s-early 1950s. 
Left to right: McDorsey Yukon, Philcraft, Supreme, unlabeled women's model, Zero King

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Blizzard Cape

The Blizzard Cape was profiled in Life Magazine and Popular Mechanics in 1939 and 1940, although the Hookless zipper visible in the closeup points to a date of manufacture nearly a decade earlier.  It was a sheepskin dickey worn with thigh high sheepskin boots and a thigh length sheepskin parka for extreme cold weather applications.  I don't believe these went beyond the testing stage at Wright Field in Ohio and in field testing in Alaska. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

1920s Patrick Duluth Mackinaw

Here's a great 1920s example from the company who brought Mackinaw coats into the mainstream, back in the 1910s: http://www.ebay.com/itm/271349036566

For another similar mackinaw, be sure to go back and check out the Carter and Churchill I posted a couple of months back:  http://vintageleatherjackets.blogspot.com/2013/08/carter-churchill-co-lebanon-nh.html

This vintage coat was made in the late 1920s through early 1930s by the F.A. Patrick woolen mills of Duluth, Minnesota.  It is made of red and black point blanket material.  While nearly identical in weight, feel and point design to the point blankets made by the Hudson's Bay Company, the material in this coat was made in-house in one of Patrick's woolen mills.  Patrick was renowned for their high quality blankets and woolen fabric.  The coat has classic double breasted styling, with a button-on belt. As was typical on mackinaws of the 1910s-1930s, the coat is unlined, relying on the quality and weight of the wool for insulation.  Patrick did an excellent job with marketing- their coats were the official uniforms of the White Sox, the NY Giants, the Chicago Cubs, the Duluth Eskimos (Later the Washington Redskins) among others. This is the same model, though in a different point blanket color combination, as worn by the Eskimos in the late 1920s.

A bit about the company, from a history piece I wrote originally for "The Fedora Lounge"
: The F.A. Patrick Company, proprietors of the Patrick-Duluth Woolen Mills of Duluth, Minnesota were responsible for taking the Mackinaw coat out of lumber camps of western Canada and introducing them to students, workmen and athletes across the United States. Early on, the Patrick Company were jobbers, making dry goods, primarily for clients in the Northwest of the United States in Canada. In 1901, Patrick began buying fabric from a Scandinavian mackinaw cloth factory in Fosston, Minnesota. In 1906, seeing potential, Patrick bought that factory and began making their own Mackinaw cloth, eventually becoming one of its leading producers. The fabric and the coats made from it were popular with miners, fur trappers, lumberjacks and hunters.

In 1912, Patrick launched a new, refined mackinaw design. It was double breasted, belted and sported a collar described in the ads of the period as a "nansen" collar. Though the term also existed then, we now refer to this style as a shawl collar. The coat was 35" long and was available in 24 and 32 oz wool mackinaw cloth, in a wide variety of colors. Salesman Harry Harrington began to pitch the Patrick Mackinaw to clothiers in college towns. "It was not long after that that mackinaws became a fad with students generally, and as the college student invariably sets the styles for young men's clothing, it quickly spread over the whole country". The early mackinaw trend was marketed in a similar way to the current workwear trend, trading on the rugged associations of the workers for whom the garment was originally designed. The mackinaw fad boomed, and shortly, a number of other manufacturers sprung onto the scene, producing mackinaws of varying quality from a variety of cloths. Large quantities of Patrick mackinaws were sold through such high end stores as Brooks Brothers, Rogers Peet, Wannamaker, Abercrombie and Fitch, Brokaw Brothers, and A. Raymond.
It is around this 1912-1913 period where the name "Mackinaw" begins to be more associated with the short, double breasted, shawl collar style, and less with the mackinaw cloth material from which it was made. The fad lasted about a year and a half. Patrick could not keep up with the growing demand caused by the collegiate fad, and the inferior fabric quality of some competitors led to the downfall of this first-wave craze.

Seeing the end of the craze, Patrick-Duluth re-branded its mackinaw once again, refining its pattern and marketing it to farmers, children, hunters and outdoorsmen, workers, and sportsmen. Its durability, warmth, low price compared to comparable overcoats or sheeplined coats, made it an easy sell to these markets. Alongside sheeplined canvas coats, Patrick Mackinaws became the de-facto winter coat of railroad employees. To further expand the market, patterns were made for men and women, boys and girls. Patrick intensified their national advertising, placing ads in the Saturday Evening Post, Country Gentleman, Farm Journal, Woman's World, American Boy, Youth's Companion, Boy's Life, and many more. The name of the product was shortened from "Patrick-Duluth Woolen Mill Mackinaw" to simply "Patrick", in a bid to make their brand name the generic trade name on the market, thereby foiling the business of competitors. Their slogan "Bigger than Weather" was penned by Elbert Hubbard. Ads were illustrated by Peter Newell and Clare Briggs. In the years between 1911 and 1914, Patrick had quadrupled its production, expanding from their two story mill to a six story mill on Duluth habror, a garment factory in Duluth, and knitting and spinning mills in Mankato, MN.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Early Brooks Racing Shirt

I got this one last year.  With the late starting zipper, bi-swing shoulders, one piece back, single snap collar with an unbranded snap, and cuffs which zip open, the consensus seems to be that it's an early Brooks, with a lot of Buco in the design.  Later Brooks jackets generally had two-snap collars, a kidney panel on the back, as well as larger panels for the bi-swing.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Origins of Buco

Joseph Buegeleisen was born in New York on October 22, 1892, the son of Polish Russian immigrant Hyman D. Buegeleisen (b.1860) and Californian Susan Davis (b.1855).  In the early 1900s, Hyman Buegeleisen prospered selling books at 489 5th Agenue.

 Joseph grew up in comfort in a "well furnished" brownstone at 169 Decatur Street, Brooklyn, NY.  Tragedy struck Joseph at  in 1908 when Hyman's second wife, Fanny, committed suicide while the rest of the family was at Synagogue. (source)
Joseph's brother, Elias Buegeleisen (b.1878), left the family bookselling business in the mid 1910s and founded the company Strauss & Buegeleisen, which produced "Resistal" Aviator Goggles. These goggles were an early application of safety glass, made with a celluloid layer in between two layers of glass to prevent shattering- similar to modern car windshields.

 Joseph followed his brother, leaving behind selling books to become a "commercial traveler" for Resistal aviator goggles. Joseph moved to Detroit as a regional salesman for Resistal around 1930. His experience selling goggles to aviators, motorcyclists and motorists must have given Buegeleisen unique insight into the specialized needs of these groups.

Although later advertisements put the founding of the Joseph Buegeleisen company in 1933, city directories list Buegeleisen as a goggle salesman until 1935, and do not list the Joseph Buegeleisen company until 1937. It's likely that in these early years the company was still small, or that he kept his job with Resistal while setting up his own concern. But it would not stay that way for long.

In 1937, directories list the company as having locations at 642 Beaubien and 2615 Oakman, Detroit, Michigan.  By 1939, the company had relocated to the second floor of 1036 Beaubien.  By 1941, it had again relocated, to 316 E. Jefferson Ave,. Around 1948, they moved to 1302 E. Woodbridge Ave. The final move and expansion occurred c. 1952, to a new, large facility at 21220 W. Eight Mile Road, Detroit, where it remained.

Left: J-82: Steerhide with nickel dome bars throughout. Quilted lining and sleeves, action back, zip sleeves
Middle: J-24: Separate cowhide belt, action back, zippered map pocket (D-Pocket), breast pocket, slash pocket and change pocket.  Zipper sleeves, loop to hold jacket to trouser belt.
Right: J-27 Style King: Horsehide, with quilted lining. Also available as the J-15 "Style Queen" for women.

The simplification of "Buegeleisen Company", "Buco" was first used in 1940.

Known for their leather jackets, Buco was also the countries largest manufacturers and distributor of motorcycle accessories. In 1966, at the peak of their production (sales having quadrupled since 1962), Joseph Buegeleisen sold the company to the American Safety Equipment Corporation of New York, but stayed on, at least for a while, as a consultant.(source).  Production of jackets under American Safety's ownership of the company was outsourced to Japan, Spain and England. Former employees went on to start Brooks leather jackets, also based in Detroit.

Joseph Buegeleisen died on March 3, 1971 and is buried in the Beth El Memorial Park Cemetery in Livonia, MI

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hair-On and Deerskin

This one combines hair on cowhide with that other staple of western style leather jackets: deerskin. There were no makers tags on this jacket, but it's probably safe to say that it came out of one of the many leather shops in Wisconsin making deer jackets. Deerskin or buckskin is always a hit or miss kind of leather for me.  If well done, it's a soft, durable, attractive leather.  But I have had too many examples that were poorly tanned where the finish flakes off in patches. The light colors it is generally tanned may put some people off, as do the Davy Crockett and/or hippie fringe styles the hide is generally associated with.  But it can just as easily be made into a half-belt, as seen here. And it can be dyed like any other leather into a variety of colors. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Los Angeles Sportogs hair-on leather shirt

More hair-on cowhide westernwear, this time from Los Angeles Sportogs. Like the Pal-O-Mine, the cowhide is reserved for the yoke.  This is made is a true shirt cut, meant to be tucked in.  It has pearl snaps and a cut just like any other western shirt of the period, but rendered in leather and fur.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pal-O-Mine Hair-On-Cowhide jacket

The death of the Grizzly did not mean the death of fur and leather combinations. Westernwear continued to embrace it.

This jacket was made in the late 1940s by Pal-O-Mine, a division of the Fleecy Mfg. Co.  It originally also had fringe on the yokes, another staple of western leather.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Grizzlies - the last gasp: 1938-1946

Production of grizzlies dropped off after the winter of 1937/1938.  By 1939 and 1940, stores were advertising final clearouts of their remaining Laskin Lamb Jacket stocks.

After more than five years off the market, Lakeland attempted to bring the style back in 1946 with the "Lamb King".  Stylistically, this jacket was unchanged since the grizzlies of the early 1930s. Although this model was advertised in various places, I wonder if it was actually of new production, or if it was pre-war deadstock Lakeland was trying to move on. This would mark the last time the "grizzly" would be seen in mainstream fashion.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Laskin Lamb Jackets - 1937

1937 was the peak of the Grizzy's popularity. 

Albert Richard "The Wildcat".  Albert Richard played up football connections heavily with their marketing in this period, sending football premiums out with their products.

Another by a big manufacturer: Admiral Byrd. 
 The grizzly as ski jacket

More skiing

 Tweed cap and a shotgun

The Grizzly as hockey wear

Even in the 1930s, there were cheap-o versions made, probably of comparable quality to the inexplicable vinyl grizzly replicas coming out of China you see listed on eBay.  Instead of leather, leatherette, and instead of mouton, some kind of pile fabric. I bet not many of these survived. I view the presence of inexpensive knockoffs as an indication of the popularity of the style at the time.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Laskin Lamb Jackets 1936-1937

The peak of the Laskinlamb Jacket's popularity came in 1937. By 1939, the style shows up in almost no advertisements.  By 1940, stores were selling off their remaining stock at deep discounts. 

While other jacket styles evolved quite a bit over the course of the 1930s, by its demise, the Laskinlamb jacket had changed very little.  With such expanses of mouton fur, I suppose there's less territory to play with.  The biggest changes from maker to maker were the cuff and shoulder styles.  An all leather Cossack jacket has more opportunities to play with pocket styles. The full mouton backs of these jackets limited the possibilities for the design expression found in the pleated, belted and buckled backs of all leather jackets. 

With the style waning, WWII, and the need for sheepskin in flight suits was likely the final nail in the coffin for the style. Lakeland attempted to revive the Grizzly after the war, but it was little more than a blip.

Skiing and snowball fights, the Grizzly's natural habitat.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Laskin Lamb Jackets - 1936

Albert Richard grizzly, endorsed by Sid Wagner, who would go on to play for the Detroit Lions.  More on him here. 

One of the defining features of the 1930s Laskin Lamb jacket was the belted waist. It's not a feature carried over from the 1920s fur blouse, so where did it come from?  Most cossack styles had either side adjusters on the waistband on at the ends of the half-belt. The thick mouton fur on the back precluded a fancy pleated back or half-belt, but not adjusters on the waistband. Flight jackets descended from one piece flight suits like the B-2, or like the Beck Northeaster 333 pictured below had a similar belted waist arrangement. 

Startled teenagers.

Worn with the seemingly ever-present bobble topped toque.

Mr. Grizzly gets a broom to the back of the head from Frosty the Snowman.