• Red Nichols, Holstorian

Post 79: Enter, and sign in please

Updated: Jun 25

That was the welcome to contestants of the '60s who played the game "What's My Line". We're, though, going to have a look at how gunleather makers of the 20th century 'signed' their holsters, especially, by the styling used to stitch down their belt loops.

Without the mark you'd not ever work out who this maker was (above) from the stitch pattern.

Huh? You say. Yes, at least unconsciously every maker believed to have a better, or at least distinct, way of stitching this tiny bit of leather real estate and we can even use that knowledge to tell us who made an otherwise unmarked holster. And even when in that maker's working lifetime it was made. Below you'll see that Arvo and his henchmen didn't put much thought into his 'signature'; yet notice where they've chosen to start and stop the stitchline: smack dab in the center of the uppermost row that supports the belt. It's not the weakest point, which is at the corners; but darned close. It's common to see old gunleather that has failed only in that upper row:

I like to start these conversations with just how easy it is to tell a Seventrees from a Gaylord, even when the holsters themselves are remarkably similar overall and are the two most likely name makers' products to be found unmarked. Seventrees:


The Seventrees pattern, and the Gaylord pattern, don't look different to you? Look again. These two makers ALWAYS used their individual pattern. And of the two my money is on Paris' as being strongest but then, both makers used nylon thread long before the rest of us did. Here's an Angell, also of NYC:

More NYC: an Alessi (my file is thin on Lou's work, dunno if this is typical). Note that the pattern is much like Paris' -- he tried to buy out Paris who found a better buyer -- but reversed.

A Bianchi, which itself displays a bit of science within: JB pointed out in my earliest time there that he used two rows, the second close to the other in support; so not very far apart. Then the stitch originates at the point furthest from the points of strain within the tunnel formed for the belt, and finishes there, too, so that there is only one cluster of cut threads.

Especially worthwhile with linen thread as shown on the NMP holster below that is Bianchi circa 1969 (the loose threads are cut with small scissors made just for the task, then the remaining fibres are poked back into the stitch holes with an awl) and quick/easy with nylon threads that are cut and tucked by melting in a single swipe of the hot iron.

Thad Rybka mixes it up a bit. We don't know each other but this tells me that he is an industrial artist as I am, so every build is a search for a better way:

Andy Anderson, ditto:

Colt's holsters were made by several different companies, so it is this pattern that makes us expect that this range with the 'Colt' in a circle that replaced Wolfram's with it in an oval, is by J.M. Bucheimer:

While Wolfram's for Colt's, for S&W, and for Wally himself looked like this because he made all three brands! I haven't thought of a functional reason for the bit of center stitching that originates the redirection of the sewing around the loop end:

Nor why Tex Shoemaker's, who fired up just exactly as Wally was leaving the biz after selling out to S&W in '68, is the very same pattern. In fact the two companies' holsters are so similar in other ways that one absolutely wants to see the backside before guessing the maker:

H.H. Heiser -- yawn. But to be fair, they WERE first:

Lawrence often did the same but had the sense to start sewing the pattern at the free end:

While this is typical of a pattern used in earlier years (and also by Heiser). The image below is of a "Keith" that is a glorified Threepersons; while their 'unglorified' Threepersons that preceded it uses the different, full-sized belt loop end.

Safariland could have been Ee-ther or eye-ther:

Sparks used a flourish for his signature and yet it is not so different from how a tab is sewn on a bag strap -- and he began his leatherworking career making flight bags:

These by O. Ball are almost interesting (whew, this is dry stuff for you) and virtually defines a Texas-made holster of mid-20th century:

Because here it is on a Bluemel:

Among the earliest surviving Myres Threepersons, the sewing started away from the stress points of the tunnel. If these were handcut then the pointed end is quicker and easier than the rounded end of the Heisers et al.

Bedell Rogers of TX used many methods and this is just the most distinctive one:

His father, Robert, though:

One of several used by J.M. Bucheimer:

A method unique to a single model of Bucheimer-Clark:

Bottom line: really only useful knowledge for knowing a Seventrees or a Gaylord when you see one that is unmarked (not uncommon), and for evaluating a strong vs. a weak pattern; the latter of which I've found mostly on Tex Shoemaker's :-).

One I liked for myself, inspired by curing the weakness of Tom Threepersons' original that was a simple 'V' near the belt and showing signs of severe strain at the openings of the belt tunnel:

Better than a bedtime story, for making anyone yawn off!


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