Post 94: Hoytology
Updated: Oct 12
We've finally nailed down the chronology of the R.H. Hoyt holster company, including that Dick Hoyt's company had five distinct eras. That nevertheless he made difficult to tell apart on the basis of their marks and their construction. We figured it out anyway :-).
Dick started out as Ed Clark's sales force in Los Angeles in 1930. I mention this for completeness' sake and these are not Hoyts but with Clark markings; instead they are not forward draws and are generally shoulder holsters that are marked Clark Holster. Clark used blue tempered clock spring (i.e., leaf springs) when a spring was needed.
In 1935 Dick Hoyt formed Hoyt Holster in Los Angeles and soon his wireform springs appeared. That they also appeared at that moment in Clark's holsters and in Berns-Martin's, too, cannot be a coincidence; nor that all were followed in 1945 by Lewis Holster that also used them -- to the point that a Clark and a Lewis can be very hard to tell apart from the front side. A Hoyt crossdraw:
From Dick's patents, one for a leaf spring shoulder holster and one for a wireform spring shoulder holster, we wouldn't have realized they would lead to the forward draw holster. Indeed all of Dick's holster began as crossdraws; a vertical shoulder holster is a crossdraw and he also had belted crossdraws. And even his vertical shoulder holster started out as a crossdraw holster that could be adapted to shoulder use!
So Los Angeles 1935-40 is Era One for Hoyts and we know them in two ways when they are basketweave: the easy way is that they are marked Los Angeles on the backside, and the harder way is the very odd basketweave pattern that Dick used in his early days, in which the 'H' tool is scattered rather than aligned as all other makers did, and Hoyt, too, did in the company's later periods. This odd basketweave is a way to get a 'possible' for a Los Angeles Hoyt -- except he used in his next period, too. The image is from Revolverguy.com:
Hoyt's "Era Two" is in El Monte, a suburb of Los Angeles. These are of the same general models as L.A.'s and unlike the later periods, include a swivel holster that looks like the crossdraw although there is no evidence they were so-used. Same odd basketweave. El Monte was 1940-1950.
"Era Three": Dick shifted next to Coupeville WA for the period 1950 to sometime in the 1960s. "Aha", you say, "I know the Coupeville Hoyts". Not this one -- these are not marked Coupeville but instead have the El Monte words ground from the stamp and the patent number stamped over that blank spot. Notice that the word at center of the stamp still is 'maker' as it was for both L.A. and E.M.; and that this word will change to 'holster co.' for the final two eras that are Costa Mesa, and the final Coupeville era.
"Era Four": to Costa Mesa that like El Monte is a suburb of Los Angeles, and this appears to be late 1960s to 1980. It is at this point that Dick's grandson-in-law (by his adopted grandaughter) takes over the business (the two of them appear to be working at Hoyt's company and divorce to marry each other late 1960s). Dick has stayed in WA where he remarries and lives quite a long time before dying in 1987.
The above image is unexpectedly from 1989, at the scene of an earthquake in the SF Bay Area. An "old school" officer to say the least.
This is the period that I am most familiar with because it represents a big chunk of my time in CA after my return from London in '66 and including my time at Bianchi that was until 1988. At this time the non-jacket belt loop, itself reinforced with a wireform spring instead of sheet metal, is the standard for the Hoyt forward draw:
In the 1970s, then, the jacket style 'hanger' appears generally, thanks to Paul Boren at Safety Speed who invented the first of them. This hanger on a Hoyt then is another indicator that you are looking at a '70s Costa Mesa Hoyt vs. a '60s Costa Mesa (I've cheated; this one is from the final Hoyt era in Coupeville because I don't have images of the hanger from the Costa Mesa era. But I know that the patent was filed 1974):
Notice that the stamp has changed from 'Hoyt - Maker' to 'Hoyt - Holster Co' -- it is in this way that we know that there are two Coupeville periods with the first one using 'Maker' but the city ground off while the second changes to 'Holster Co' with 'Coupeville' added.
It was in 1980 that Woody and Dick's grandaughter also shifted from Southern California to Coupeville WA where it was incorporated, I expect for more reasons than family because in the 1970s the rioting and criminality led to increases in lawsuits against 'security' holsters that 'failed'. Which is to say, they performed as intended but were not capable of being secure against the bad guys who today we call 'social justice warriors'.
And these Coupeville holsters are not only so-marked but also include models that couldn't exist earlier, such as the 'pancake' versions that began to appear in the mid-1970s:
The record shows that the Coupeville operation went dark in 2002 and that Woody d. 2015.
Note: a version of the Hoyt has long been made by A.E. Nelson in OR (not to be confused with all the other Nelson holster makers) and are still available today. The Nelson is readily distinguished from the Hoyt by the little tab of leather across the rear of the trigger guard pocket. The Nelson website tells us that the company took on LEO gunleather in 1970 and it was a general sporting goods maker prior.
I own, for no particular reasons except that they were 'there' for sale on an auction site decades ago, a pair of Hoyt's brass dies for basket stamping its left-hand 4" and 6" holsters. Even the mighty Bianchi and Safariland companies did not ever have left-hand dies for their very large volumes; LH being 5% of holster sales then although 10% of the population. These dies are little-used so perhaps they were made LH in error by Prima Die who produced "everyone's" basket dies '70s and '80s, and long before there was CAD and CAM or whatever moniker is used today:
The holsters themselves in this image, were stamped by hand (one 'H' at a time) and we know this by the 'legs' of the "Hs" not always meeting each other (other clues, too):