Revisiting what we know about Clark Holster, J.M. Bucheimer, Bucheimer-Clark, and those who followed
Updated: Jan 14
At present (more is in the offing) we know that this particular family tree of gunleather begins in America, with G.H. Buchheimer (notice the two 'h's in the surname):
We believe this company of 1884, which ads show to have made holsters but specialized in dog leathers, lasted with this name until G.H.B.'s death in 1937.
At this time it's expected that it was changed to J.M. Bucheimer (above, in Towson MD). Which then confuses holstorians because John Maurice Bucheimer's company used G.H. Buchheimer's founding date of 1884. Fair enough, but still confusing given that J.M. Bucheimer himself wasn't born by then!
The gunleather family tree began to branch outwards instead of downwards, when E.E. Clark, founder of Clark Holsters, d. in 1948; and J.M. Bucheimer himself d. 1953. Very soon after the sons of these men, G.R. Bucheimer (notice the double 'h' is gone) and at least E.J. Clark, joined to create an equally well-known company, Bucheimer-Clark. J.M. Bucheimer was a MD company and B-C a CA company. It's 1959.
A post on a forum, from a descendant of one of the Clark sons, indicates that several of the sons were involved in Bucheimer-Clark. Earl Jay Clark is best known to all of us because it is only his name that appears on a dozen patents that were assigned to J.M.B., to B-C, and Tandy (and one that kept to himself that later was made by a company called Thompson Inc.).
Yes, that Tandy; the Tandy leather company that we all used to buy leather and tools from at that very moment in time. And still do, I suppose. Tandy was powered by one Charles Tandy, son of one of the founders, and he had an affinity for growth; a result was that both the J.M. Bucheimer Co. and the Bucheimer-Clark Co. became Tandy subsidiaries. Indeed, although Bucheimer-Clark was a free-standing company before the 1970 acquisition, only the name then survived when it became, instead, Tandy's 'd.b.a' (doing business as), a corporate form of 'A.K.A.', of Tandy a Texas corporation.
And just at that moment, a company called Thompson Leather Goods appeared d.b.a. Thompson Inc. Is it a coincidence that Wray Thompson was president of Tandy Leather? Maybe, and if promises are bankable, we'll soon be certain one way or the other: recently we've connected with his son, Jon Thompson, himself a major figure in the Tandy Corp.
Then, 'the man', Charles Tandy, d. in 1978. It's not a coincidence that Bucheimer-Clark was not ever heard of again, with that year's being the last B-C holster catalog we've seen to date: shareholders wanted all of Tandy's holdings reexamined and Wray Thompson promptly resigned to start of his own venture.
It's a venture you've heard of: The Leather Factory, and it was formed in conjunction with Scholze Tannery, which was one of Bianchi Leather's several veg tanned leather vendors (it's always stayed with me, that I could not ever answer the many questions from Scholze' sales reps about Bianchi; they volunteered info about our competitors so readily that it was obvious anything I said w/b traded back to them). Today it is called Tandy Leather Factory: the one bought out the other.
The last Bucheimer gunleather catalog (the company went back and forth between calling itself Bucheimer and J.M. Bucheimer, from year to year) that has been sighted is marked 1985/86. Corporate filings indicate that it was no longer a Tandy company then and genealogical records show that one of the Bucheimer brothers died at the same time. And so J.M.B., too, was gone forever.
The Bucheimer trademark is 'kind of' used even today; but USPTO records show that that registration was limited to having '1884' at the end of it. Does this matter to us? Not really; trademark law in the U.S. provides protection to those who actively use a mark, over those who register them formally; this is quite the opposite of inventions where no protection is provided unless the invention is registered (i.e., patented).
Geo. H. Buchheimer founded in Baltimore in 1885 (that becomes J.M. Bucheimer Co., likely soon after GHB's death in 1937):
Clark Holster (E.E. Clark founded in Los Angeles 1925 and closed by his sons around '59):
J.M. Bucheimer Co. that appeared by 1940; it had many, many different marks into the 1980s:
Bucheimer-Clark formed in 1959 (L.A. is its first mark, then a Valencia mark):
Thompson Inc. with its unique styling, the stagecoach mark and J.M.B. part numbers; and J.M.B. also using that unique Thompson styling:
J.M. Bucheimer designs identical to the Thompson but without the stagecoach:
Clark with the stagecoach mark alone, and the fitment marking returning to the ancient ways of E.E. Clark (the caliber only):
Clark with the stagecoach mark in Coachella that is in Riverside county near L.A. (better image now because this very rare item is now in my friend and editor Craig Smith's collection):
Clark Holster in Anaheim that is said to have been John Clark's, one of the five sons of E.E. Clark:
Tandy had a stagecoach stamp in that very era, now obsolete and considered 'vintage'. It's evocative of, but not identical to, the Thompson / Clark coach: