• Red Nichols, Holstorian

Post 24: The never-told tale of maker Thompson Inc.

And it's unlikely you'll ever read about Thompson Inc. ever again, except updates here. In the early 1970s there were two new Los Angeles area makers who popped up to compete with Bianchi Holsters where I was a relatively new arrival: Thompson Inc., and Bacon Holsters.

Thompson Inc. has come back into our awareness, oddly, because of both J.M. Bucheimer and Bucheimer-Clark. I had some awareness that Thompson had been absorbed into at least Bucheimer-Clark because the Thompson brand disappeared then and its unusual styling appeared in the two 'Bucheimer' operations. It was a style and construction that I quite admired -- the welted seam was contoured around the stepped ejector-rod housing of DA revolvers of the time -- but was never tempted to emulate.

The company's basketweave pattern was also completed with what's called a 'rope' tool because when applied more carefully than it is in the pic above, the result is a braided rope. All other makers (but see below) used what's called a 'camouflage' tool that was chosen arbitrarily at some time in the past because it obliterates the ragged edge left by the rectangular basket tool. This one has taken a leaf from Paul Boren's Safety Speed Holster 'breakfront' for styling and spring location; which location otherwise is very 'Clark':

Comfortable in the knowledge that Thompson had become a Bucheimer-Clark product, which made sense to me because both were Los Angeles operations, it is only recently that I realized it was also integrated into J.M. Bucheimer. I even had the images filed incorrectly because of that, ok, I admit it, 'assumption'. Fair enough, easy to correct. This one is a J.M. Bucheimer:

But there turned out to be another twist: the style was also made by yet a third Clark holster company in Los Angeles! These popped up in auctions only over the last few years and even on the B-C shoulder holsters; and damned well-executed are these latter holsters.

One might think too much is being made of that; but the exact logo -- a stagecoach with a 'T' on its door -- is used on both the Thompson product and on this 'Third Clark' range. So, was there a brief period in which Earl Clark (his founder father and inventor E.E. Clark had died in the 1940s) made and marketed the range after pulling Thompson Inc. into the fold? Either before or after Bucheimer-Clark folded in that decade? We don't know and don't be surprised -- we can't find a single thing about Lewis Holster and its founder Ed Lewis, so whatta we know.

Again, then, a reminder; it pays to keep in mind 'which Bucheimer' and 'which Clark' when buying and selling gunleather. Different people, different coasts, different designs, different eras even. Yet all with several threads connecting them. We can all play like riverboat pilots and call out 'mark!' as we seek out purchases; when a seller says Bucheimer, or Clark, or Thompson, or even Stagecoach; have a close look at the mark itself: sellers get 'em wrong. The above (and below) shoulder holster is a design by Earl Clark who was not Clark Holsters; but the holster is also not a Bucheimer-Clark which he was; instead it is a Clark Leather Goods which he likely was? Before he went over to Safariland in 1980. OMG!


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