Here’s a coat from my collection. Not for sale, but an interesting piece.
This flight suit was made in 1942 by the Canadian company Deacon Brothers. Deacon Brothers had a factory at 133 Dundas St East Belleville, Ontario, and was known primarily for their shirts.
It was sold to me as being RCAF issue, as part of a two piece flight suit. The military style designation number seems to point to that, as do all the specialized details on the front. I have only seen two other flight suits of this design, and only a few other items made by Deacon. I have seen one example of this same design made by S.S. Holden Ltd.. Multiple manufacturers producing identical patterns does point to this having been an issued item, but its current rarity points to it not having been made in large numbers.
This is a WWI army issue pullover wool shirt. It has two breast pockets, one with stitching for a pen. The sleeves have reinforcements at the shoulders. The original tag is still at the hem, but it is mostly illegible. The chest and placket are partially lined. There are gussets at the tails.
Chest (pit to pit): 24-1/2″ (doubled = 49″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 18″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 23-1/2″
This vintage hunting vest was made by the Gem Shirt Company of Dayton, Ohio in the 1910s. The Gem Shirt Co. diversified into canvas hunting clothes in the early part of the 20th century, innovating the usage of lined waterproof game bags. They were a high end maker at the time, making their products from an excellent grade of cotton canvas duck. The vest has 32 closed bottomed reinforced corduroy shotgun shell pockets on the front of the vest. The corduroy material is somewhat unusual, a nice early detail. The back of the vest has a buckled belt, and a stitched-on tab added by the original owner, probably to hold his hunting license. The vest has a five button front, with metal buttons reading “The Gem”. The buttons attach via grommets and rings. The vest has a typically 1910s style yellow on black label.
Chest (pit to pit): 21″ (double = 42″)
1911. “The Gem” trademark registered. Logo matches that on this vest.
1912 – Ad for The Gem hunting coats
1917 – Photo of “The Gem” hunting coat
1918. Guiterman Bros Town and Country vest, Gem Hunting Coat and a Springfield Rifle
1923. Gem Hunting Vests and coats. This is the last I can find on the company.
This vintage swimsuit was made by “Ocean”. This company was originally known as Ocean Champion, and later “Ocean Pool Supply”. This company was the official supplier of swimsuits to the United States Olympic team for most of the first half of the 20th century, before being supplanted by Speedo. This is one of their later production models, in their lower waisted “Ocean Brief” style. These suits were made out of two independent layers of nylon, with a drawstring waist. Compare to an earlier Ocean Champion suit (here), and a similar one made by Dolfin (here)
Union tags can be helpful in dating vintage clothes. The United Garment Workers of America tag, however, remained virtually unchanged from its first usage in 1891 until its last in 1994. The most notable change occurred c.1930, when the manufacturer number relocated from the side to the center of the label. The first two label variants date from the first decade of the 20th century. The second two are representative of what was used 1930s-1990s.
Depending on what was the tag was on, there could be different background text. Pictured is “clothing- clothing”. Other examples of background text would be “Duck Goods” or “Special Order”.
I just bought a repro Talon zipper to have as a backup for a jacket of mine whose zip is looking like it may start going bad soon. The repro bears the current Talon box T logo on the back. It’s not a bad looking job from a little bit away, same shape, same size, and I’m sure once in a jacket would probably pass muster, more-or-less. But compared to the original, there is no comparison. The shape of the slider is different, with curved edges, while the original is made up of straight lines. The puller is close, but is longer, as it mounts higher. The cover on the slider with the “Talon” script is wider, which accounts for a change of shape of the cutout on the slider. The quality of the casting is much rougher on the reproduction. Instead of using one of Talon’s several distinctive stop-box designs, the repro goes for a modern, small stopbox. I know it’s not period correct, but I do appreciate the plastic(melted?) reinforcement at the base of the zipper tape on the reproduction. It’s a detail found on modern zippers, but one which I would consider an improvement over the zippers of the ’30s. So many original zippers I have have failed at that point.
The verdict? This particular repro was cheap and will do in a pinch. It works well, and for putting in a vintage jacket or a vintage style-one, it certainly would look better than a modern off-the shelf YKK. However, if true period accuracy is what you’re after, I’d say you’d be better off going with the NOS zips from Mash Japan.
This Kwik slide fastener dates from roughly 1932-1936. It is found on a men’s bathing suit with a zip-off tank top, a detail found in the transitional period between one or two piece suits and the topless look for men of the mid ’30s through present. The patent numbers correspond to patents no. 1814244, granted in 1931, patent no. 1752111, granted in 1930 and 1761385, granted in 1930.
As with all other guides for dating vintage clothes, always use a variety of methods when attempting to assess a garment’s date of manufacture. While there is a fairly continuous base of ads and dated examples to draw upon, with changes of labels, there is always overlap of the old and the new. And as with anything else, there are usually a variety of variations (the Palm Beach Beau Brummell ties spring to mind) for any basic pattern of label, which can cause confusion.
Goodall Mills of Sanford, Maine was founded in 1847. They introduced Palm Beach cloth in 1911. The iconic white variety of the fabric was immediately adopted in the South, but took some time to catch on in Northern states. By 1923, Palm Beach cloth was being produced in more than 140 colors and patterns. (source) Darker colors proved more popular with Northerners who wanted the cool fabric without attracting undesired sartorial attention. Within the first decade of production, soundalike imitation fabrics had started to pop up and “Palm Beach” had become the layman’s term for a light colored suit.
In 1931, a second plant opened in Cincinnati, and the company headquarters relocated to that city. In that same year, the Goodall Worsted Co. organized the Goodall Co., Inc. to “manufacture all garments made of Palm Beach cloth for the 1932 season”. (source) Up until that point, the quality and cost of suits made of Palm Beach cloth had varied wildly. That plant was bought out in 1942, and retooled for the war effort. Despite this, the company headquarters remained in Cincinnati. With control over the fabric and tailoring, Goodall Mills began opening their own line of Palm Beach stores, to sell direct to the public. (source)
In 1944, the town name, “Sanford” was added to the mill name “Goodall”. By the 1940s, further plants producing Palm Beach Cloth had opened in Boston. (source) In 1949, the clothing branch of Goodall Sanford was renamed to simply the “Palm Beach Company”.
The Maine operation of Goodall-Sanford announced losses in 1949. They began to transfer some cloth production to Cincinnati in 1952. (source)Losses were announced again in 1952, though by 1953, sales were back up. Competitor Burlington Mills bought controlling interest in the Goodall Sanford mills in July of 1954, with the plans of “divesting itself of the cutting (suitmaking) operation”. (source) By November of 1954, Goodall-Sanford sold all four of its fabric mills in Maine, leasing one back with the intention of continuing production of Palm Beach fabric. (source) The suitmaking side of the company and the Palm Beach name (but not the mill) was sold in 1955 to Elmer L. Ward, long time president of the Goodall Sanford company. Palm Beach cloth continued to be produced and advertised through until 1956. In the face of dwindling profits, Burlington Mills (later Burlington Industries) shut down the production of Palm Beach Cloth.(source)
Elmer L. Ward retained control of the “Palm Beach” company until 1979, when he was succeeded by his son, Lawrence Ward. It took nine years to pay off the debt accrued by the company prior to the buyout, but under Ward, Palm Beach went public in 1965. In 1975, the holding company “Palm Beach Inc.” was created, which expanded to include the brands of Varsity Town, Gant, Austin Hill, Evan Picone, John Weitz, Calvin children’s wear, Eagle shirts, Haspel, and Country Set. Elmer Ward passed away in 1982. In 1985, a 62% controlling interest was bought out by Merrill Lynch Capital Markets. In 1988, the Palm Beach name was sold again, to Southport, Connecticut based “Crystal Brands”. (source) The name was re-sold to HMX LLC. In 2010, the Palm Beach brand was merged into the “Austin Reed” name.(source)A year later, HMX re-launched the brand. (source)
The fabric content of Palm Beach Cloth changed a number of times of the course of its production.
1912 – Cotton Warp, Mohair Weft
1941 – Reformulated to make the fabric softer and lighter. Precise content unknown, but likely included the addition of Rayon.
Late 1940s – Cotton, Mohair, Rayon. The precise content depended on the fabric’s application, and the region of the country in which it was sold. For instance, the fabric in a Palm Beach necktie of this era was 50% Rayon – 32% Mohair – 12% Cotton – 6% Nylon.
The prices for Palm Beach suits varied wildly up until 1931. Up until that point, Goodall Sanford supplied their Palm Beach Cloth to a variety of tailors who produced suits of varying quality and prices. After 1931, clothing made from Palm Beach cloth was made in-house.
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $18.50 in 1934
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $15.75 in 1935
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $15.75 in 1936
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $16.75 in 1937
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $17.75 in 1938
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $15.50 in 1939
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $19.50 in 1942
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $19.50 in 1945
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $23.50 in 1947
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $26.75 in 1948.
A Palm Beach cloth suit sold for $27.50 in 1949.
In ’31, The Goodall mills switched over to tailoring all their own products for the most part, and gave the contract to produce neckties to Cohn, Roth & Stiffsen of New York, Franc, Strohmenger & Cowan of New York, and Hewes & Potter of Boston. None produced ties from Palm Beach Cloth in any notable quantity. (source) Cluett Peabody (Arrow Ties) had rejected the fabric.
A 1936 contract with the Weisbaum Bros., Brower Company, Cincinnati (producers of Beau Brummell neckties) gave them the exclusive right to produce Palm Beach Cloth neckties.
1940s composition: 53% mohair, 47% cotton
Early ’50s composition, from your tag: 50% Rayon, 32% mohair, 13% cotton, 5% nylon.
I’ve seen another from that era marked 50% Rayon, 32% Mohair, 12% Cotton, 6% Nylon.
It looks like by the ’50s “Wash and Wear” Palm Beach ties by Beau Brummel had been re-formulated again to be:
55% dacron polyester, 40% Rayon, and 5% Polyester. I’m seeing ads for those in the late 1950s. Oddly, the tags still say “woven only by Goodall Sanford”, despite the name “Palm Beach” and the Goodall Sanford mills splitting ways around 1955. It was sort of a gradual split, ’54-’56. In the early ’50s, some of the fabric production had moved from Maine to Ohio. I wonder if that included the fabric used in their neckties?
By the ’60s, Beau Brummell Palm Beach ties were 60% polyester, 40% rayon