• Red Nichols, Holstorian

Post 74: Thompson, Bucheimer, Clark, Bucheimer-Clark, Clark, Clark . . .

Updated: Aug 10

I've deleted a bunch of blog posts that were (1) not getting the typical number of views and (2) contained no info that w/b missed by enthusiasts :-). This one is a replacement for No. 9, and the below image is clue no. 1:

Let's help out a friend who is fielding some disjointed queries about several makers who all have somehow come together as a yet another maker! Follow me on this because it will leave a mystery for you that will be worth the effort:

In the beginning, there was Johannes Winter Buchheimer. Yes, with a double 'h' in the spelling of the Bucheimer name we know so well because we're gunleather collectors. He was a grocer and this tale is not about him.

His son, though, was George H. Buchheimer and he founded a gunleather company called G.H. Buchheimer in 1884. This is the founding date claimed by HIS son who was . . .

. . . John Maurice Buchheimer; and it was his name that evolved into the company that we know best as J.M. Bucheimer Co. (the second 'h' was dropped by the beginning of WWII in Europe, for the 1940 census).

HIS son was George Richard Buchheimer; his name is on the thumbsnap patent filed with Al Kippen in 1957 and the product appeared for the first time in J.M. Bucheimer's 1957 catalog as the Guardian holster. It was he who shifted ops from Towson MD to Frederick.

Backing up: in 1930 Ed Clark aka E.E. Clark started up Clark Holsters, and he had a son named Earl J. Clark. Ed was a prolific gunleather inventor in his time. Ed died in '48 and in '59, Earl Clark and G. Richard Bucheimer combined to form the well-known Bucheimer-Clark as J.M. Bucheimer's western division (JMB was in MD, B-C in CA).

Okay. By 1970 both J.M. Bucheimer and Bucheimer-Clark were subsidiaries of the well-known Tandy Corp and patents by both Earl Clark for Bucheimer-Clark, and Al Kippen for J.M. Bucheimer, are assigned to Tandy Corp.

But Charles Tandy himself died in '78 and Bucheimer-Clark disappeared at the same time (i.e., we are yet to see any later catalogs). This patent '481 to Earl Clark was his first since 1962 to be assigned not to B-C but to Tandy; it was made by J.M.B:

Again, okay. Into the midst of this though, appeared a company called Thompson Inc. and their logo was a stagecoach with a 'T' stamped into its door. That company promptly disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, mid-'70s and something very odd occurred then. Several odd things, in fact.

The very unusual triple curve of the Thompson welt profile, its basket weave pattern with a rope border stamp, its flared safety strap, and its method of attaching the male half of the snap to the holster with a disc of leather (used only by Lewis), began appearing on J.M. Bucheimer-marked holsters.

Then a different Clark Leather company appeared using all those same features -- plus Thompson's stagecoach stamp with the "T" in its door. And this one then has TWO somewhat different stamps, one of which includes the city (I was wrong, this mark does not say 'Anaheim')

And we've only been aware of these latter holsters for a few years now, not least because sellers on auction sites conflate the names Bucheimer, Bucheimer-Clark, Clark Holsters, Clark Leather, J.M. Bucheimer, etc.

THEN, these two somewhat different stamps for Clark Leather appear on either holsters that look like Thompsons; or look like Bucheimer-Clarks -- and even on the Bucheimer Concealer.

Recall this is all wrapping up about 1980. That's the year that Earl Clark has gone to work for Neale Perkins according to an announcement by Neale that year. New Safariland products then appear by 1983 using the unique springing method of Earl's for Bucheimer-Clark, at the same time that Neale is switching over to Rogers' laminate where the Kydex is the spring.

These include a crossdraw holster and a vertical shoulder holster that replaced Neale's elastic version in the latter, which itself must've seem like a good idea at the time but wasn't. Earl died in 1989 and by then even J.M. Bucheimer has folded under the withering competition from newbies Bianchi Holsters, Safariland, and Galco.

This would seem to be end of the story. Except that we collectors are left with this bunch of holsters that all look like each other and yet not, like a litter of pups with different fathers to the same mother.

First takeaway for collectors: look at the back and carefully read the legend there. Second one: realize they are all different companies, from different eras. Third one: there is yet ANOTHER Clark Holster; this one in Anaheim that is a suburb of L.A. It's marked like E.E. Clark's holsters but with the city changed, including the frame and barrel length to one side (a 38 frame then was a K frame, a 44 frame an N frame)

The things we don't know, eh? But we'll find out!

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