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The Shakespearean Tragedy that was Paris Theodore and his Seventrees

Updated: Feb 12

I've finally made the time to scan through Paris' book, which is written in the first person as an autobiography would be; although published now substantially after his death in 2006 . There are a few bits and bobs in it of interest to a holstorian including how he came to be in the holster biz. But when I reached the chapter in which he lists his various murders of men and women 'in the line of duty', including one of woman during a sex act with her, I reached over and dropped the entire book into my rubbish bin, after removing the holstorical pages.

Just as with Ardolino's autobiographical book: all just self-aggrandisement -- but what terrible things to be proud of! Tom Threepersons said it best: "I never told a living soul as to how many men I killed. That is an unpleasant memory that few officers like to recall".


Relevant to our line of enquiry, though, is this: "During my time with the Government, I was the contact go-between for Activity personnel in Washington and custom holster maker Chic Gaylord". Because this then involved babysitting Chic to the get the orders produced at all, he spent much time there and Paris and his wife, Broadway choreographer Lee Becker, came up with the idea that "a custom holster company would be a perfect cover for my true purpose, making a new line of lethal weapons, One problem: I knew nothing about designing, much less fabricating, holsters".


To that end Paris made an offer to Chic but was turned down -- but Gaylord's "leather worker" (Bob Angell) said he knew how to do everything except stitch. Really. Explains to me as someone who knows how to do it all, how Angell's designs were so devoid of sewing! But instead assembled from a single piece held into the shape of a holster by clever folds and a use of snaps even as rivets such as those shown in a 1965 article by Zwirz about Gaylord that mentions Angell himself:



SO: the only new information that is relevant to a holstorian is the 'why and how' of Paris' relationship with Chic Gaylord and how the scion of a Broadway showbiz family came to be in the holster biz at all. OTHERWISE: every fact Paris outlines in his book CONFIRMS every fact used in my Chronology and in my book Holstory, beginning with its founding date 1966. P.S. That's also the date that Chic's operation failed: "(Angell) also said he would be happy to be a part of my new venture".


This unmarked shoulder holster uses the same harness as shown in the mag article above, and not often seen on Seventrees or even Gaylords:



 

Several FOH (friends of holstory and a frenemy) have been stimulating my interest in Paris Theodore again lately. And the most useful was being told about a new book out about Paris:

I mine all such writings for the nuggets inside that illuminate the facts I already have, and to add any new ones to see if and how they fit into my Chronology. For us holstorians Paris was a blip on the electrocardiagram of holstory. He was there, then he wasn't, and he was not the designer of his gunleather anyway. But the designs with his mark on them set a new standard for styling, construction, and performance because we gunleather designer/makers hadn't been captivated by the Chic Gaylord's own designs. Chic's at left, Paris' at right, below:



Notice especially the rivet on the Gaylord; it is NOT there to reinforce the stitching -- hardly necessary with two rows of nylon thread, which no other makers used at that time -- but instead is there to provide a clamping action at the seam against the pistol, a la the Threepersons welt stack. Elmer Keith for one was losing his big 44s out of his Gaylords! One can date both makers' holster by realizing: Chic added the rivets at the end of his reign which was early 1960s, and Paris continued with them when he started up mid-'60s and then eliminated them. Both men had their holster stitched 'upside down' for some reason (such as the Seventrees below) but not always (such as the Gaylord below). Someone tried to tell me once that this was a trade secret, but IT'S NOT A TRADE SECRET IF IT'S OBVIOUS.



It appears that to give credit where it is due, w/b to say that neither Chic nor Paris were responsible for the most sophisticated of their designs; not even the patented ones that showed only their own names. It seems that instead it was Bob Angell about whom we know very little. Paris was introduced to the world in 1968 by his board of directors who were masquerading as independent gunwriters: Jeff Cooper, Bob Zwirz, Skeeter Skelton, Mason Williams, George Nonte, perhaps even Jan Stevenson; in many gun mag articles about Seventrees and about his ASP pistol:




Paris' life and death are almost Shakespearean in their tragic elements, beginning with his being closed down by the Church Committee in '75 and his wife's death in 1987. Both he and his wife, and their mothers and in-laws, were creatures of NYC's Broadway so just how this led to gunleather for Paris I see now is outlined in the book I've mentioned. Even his business partner married an actress then bailed from Seventrees along with his wealthy father's money that had been in support of the enterprise. As Neale Perkins' father's money supported the startup of Safari Ltd and John Bianchi's father's money starting up Bianchi Holster to succeed Safari Ltd.


ADD to the tragedy of Seventrees (as if his wife dying of breast cancer weren't enough for the couple), a MYSTERY: why did he call his company Seventrees? And why was his original logo an Adonida palm of Florida? One wag was certain that it was so-named because the palm of his logo has seven fronds -- but it has eight not seven.



The palm tree stamp was used by itself on most all of the 1967 prototypes -- but not ever with the Seventrees name as above (which is from Ken Null's bench). Instead, for production Paris and his partner Steve switched to the Seventrees name only AND hot stamped it into the hard horsehide; omitting the palm, because their advisor who was gun writer Mason Williams said the original was indistinct -- but he MEANT that the palm tree alone meant nothing to his (Williams') collaborators. Silly chaps, all.


Paris, of course, who like all (?) New Yorkers spent time in Florida, surely came up with the palm logo while he resided there because that's its USA locale. He lived there in the right time period, too (Before Seventrees). Or was he killing people in Manila where it originated? It is aka the Christmas palm because of the red berries in winter:



Read more in my book titled "Holstory -- Gunleather of the Twentieth Century -- the Second Edition" that is available at www.holstory.com and printed for you/shipped to you in USA.

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