• Red Nichols, Holstorian

Treasure hunt

Updated: Mar 22

In 1968, three articles appeared about Paris Theodore and his Seventrees Ltd gunleather company. Two of them were by Bob Zwirz, a frequent contributing editor for Gun World, and scattered throughout these three articles are images of nearly two dozen Seventrees products.

The model above is Steve King; he left the company in this year and continued with his career in Japanimation: he was a producer for the famed Speed Racer 'toons. The model below is Paris himself.

We in industry didn't know at the time that these were all prototypes, nor that Seventrees was not even in production! So these were hand-made one-offs. And we didn't realize for more than a half century, that they are all identifiable by their unique maker's mark: a palm tree stamping.

That's King again. My scan of this particular article is so poor that the images I've clipped from it are mighty small. They're at the end of the treasure list in this blog post.

Then having worked that out, we didn't at first grasp why the mark disappeared from 'production' Seventrees holsters:

Notice that Seventrees is still experimenting with its 'signature' stitching, to differentiate it from Gaylord's. The above is not what they settled on.

And became this instead (OK, there were a few more, but quite similar):

Easy. In 1967, Mason Williams complained to Paris and Steve that his friends couldn't identify the maker by its mark on the prototypes. And how could they -- it was the palm tree alone and without the Seventrees name!

Then late last year . . . one of these actual prototypes turned up on eBay and I was able to tell both the seller and the buyer what it was, from its palm tree logo (which turns out to be the Adonida Palm aka the Christmas Palm, seen commonly in FL and Paris once even had an address in Boca Raton). And its unusual, turned-back strap ends. It was the VAM 'Vampire' Across Body holster that we would call a Car Holster today.

Not a big deal -- except this week ANOTHER of the actual prototypes turned up. Same palm tree stamping, no Seventrees name. An FOH (a Friend of Holstory) has bought it and after a bit of spit and polish, it will appear in Holstory II due out next year.

So time will surely turn up more, now that we've found 2 of the 24 or so. And I can't resist showing you what 'the missing' look like. Every piece of gunleather has 'tells' on it, to differentiate one from another; an extra stitch here, a moulded flute of a cylinder on the one and not the other, etc. But we're looking for that palm tree!

And you're looking vigilantly because, as with unmarked Andy Andersons (he didn't mark them), THE SELLER DOESN'T KNOW THE MAKER so 'Seventrees' is not in the auction title, unless the seller is the original aficionado who bought it. You'll have to look sharply as I did with that first one, and as a friend did with the second because that auction couldn't appear for me overseas (overseas buyers 'blocked').

Here's are the two that have been found so far:

The Vampire car holster for the 2" revolver, that Paris is wearing in the articles. It is identifiable by both the palm tree marking on its backside and by its turned back strap ends that are not on other examples seen:

And the Horizontal shoulder holster for the 2" revolver, that a 'model' is demonstrating in the articles; ditto on the palm tree and unique for having a pull-through strap at the trigger guard. This strap was not used by Seventrees ever again; it was a Gaylord feature:

There was but a single shoulder harness used in the photo shoot, identifiable by its carelessly staggered triple-rivet pattern at the collar bone of the officer; and a shot of author Zwirz. So we'll not be finding another from the shoot because it's on the J frame setup that's just now been found.

The backside of the holster is not marked with any logo, and it appears so far that the harness is unmarked also.

Paris below with author Zwirz, this time in an image from the photo shoot but from a private collector vs. the articles:

The 1911 shoulder holster is shown in a separate image within the 'treasure list'.

HERE'S WHAT HOLSTORY IS MISSING TODAY and hopefully still in private collections:

This one became a regular part of the Seventrees range, as the Model SSS Speed Scabbard. Walther PPK (Bond was BIG right at that moment).

The above thumbsnap with a covered guard did not make it into the Seventrees range. 2" J frame.

Neither did this coat pocket holster make it into the range; likely it's a Tigger ("because I'm . . . the only one!"). Also 2" J frame.

This became the Model TRE Thumb Release Scabbard. 2" J frame. There are several TREs on this list for other revolvers :-).

Notice that this particular TRE scabbard (above) is NOT displaying its palm tree stamping (below). 4" Python frame. Notice that Seventrees is still experimenting with its 'signature' stitching, to differentiate it from Gaylord's. The below is not what they settled on.

A TRE scabbard, likely 3"; that it's sporting a Charter Arms is not a coincidence because Paris already was contracted to make Charter Arm's gunleather. The Charter frame is a bit daintier than the Smith J frame and perhaps Charter felt the need to provide special leather for their pistols.

Could be called a revolver version of the SSO Super Speed Scabbard, which style is called out as being for big rear sights (but illustrated only for the big autos). Here, vs. the flexible tab of the catalog's SSO for the auto's big sights, the mouth of the holster is high and is 'pinched' around both hammer and sight. The pinching likely adds retention and a pocket for the rear sight, too.

Not catalogued, it's a thumbsnap version of the COM aka the Donihoo. A tad short on the 1911's muzzle, too. Somewhere Mason Williams got the idea that Paris' thumbsnaps were meant to be opened with the elbow; dunno where (nor did Steve King).

Another SSS, this time for the 1911. Production models of Seventrees holster generally are minus the rivet at the main seam, which Chic Gaylord had added to his own range to improve pistol retention. This is the Angell-designed holster that Williams wanted instead of the Donihoo (called the COM) but he got both.

The Model COM Combat Scabbard that we know better as a Donihoo. Williams didn't like it and perhaps the public didn't, either. Rarely seen even with the standard Seventrees logo.

The Model SPS Side Pocket Scabbard. Perhaps that's the palm tree logo in the red circled area. It, the Gaylord, and the Galco are indistinguishable unless one sights the maker's mark.

Now, the really indistinct images that I have from one Zwirz article:

This TRE scabbard DOES have its palm tree marking displayed on its backside, and is for a Colt (seems too short for a 2-1/2" Python):

Notice that Seventrees is still experimenting with its 'signature' stitching, to differentiate it from Gaylord's. The above is not what they settled on.

The horizontal shoulder holster is part of the range but my catalog is missing its page for it, so I can't provide its model number or its name for you. Today its mag pouch would be separated from it and the one harness that was used for ALL the shoulder holsters in the photo shoot is already accounted for.

A TRE for the K frame 2" M&P.

An early rendition of the SSS that came from the 'just copy the Angell' remonstration from Mason to Steve (Angell designed the Seventrees products in NYC) vs the COM (the Donihoo). For the S&W M39 that was to become Paris' basis for his ASP pistol.

These (above and below), the magazine photo's caption states, are both for the High Standard DA derringer; the lowermost one worn behind the neck and under long hair by female agents.

Not catalogued: a strapless scabbard for the J frames.

We know the drop pouches are out there -- sometimes called Quick Sixes -- but they were not catalogued. Nor were any of the mag or cuff pouches. He patented all three!

Good luck, treasure hunters :-). Helpful Hint: did you notice yet that ALL of them have rivets in their main seams, except the pants pocket holster? Yet Seventrees gunleather typically has no rivets; so, no rivet, no palm tree logo, not one of the prototypes.

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