This vintage leather vest was made by the California Sportswear Company of Los Angeles under their Californian label in the mid to late 1930s. It has an early Talon Hookless style grommet zipper and a chain and ring style Talon zip on the breast pocket, with the early style slider with the Talon script. These date it from around 1935-1938. It bears the famous Californian rising sun label, and has side adjuster belts, like those found on Californian’s half-belt leather jackets of the same period.
Chest (pit to pit): 20″ (doubled = 40″)
This vintage vest was made in Woolrich, Pennsylvania by the Woolrich Woolen Mills. Woolrich changed their label design frequently, which makes them easy to date if you know what you’re looking for. This variant on the label was used from about 1940-1945. The design of the United Carr snaps are also a giveaway for this vest’s date of manufacture. In the 1930s, Woolrich used snaps with one of two variations on a greek key pattern. During WWII, they switched to a plain topped design, featured on this vest. Starting in the late 1940s, Woolrich switched to snaps bearing the Woolrich name, before switching back to a different variation on the plain topped snaps in the 1960s. The design of the back of the snap further confirms this dating.
The vest is made of Woolrich’s signature mackinaw wool. The vest has a snap front, and bound seams. Although some examples you see are the sleeved variation with the sleeves removed, the construction on those is different. The vest has a belt adjuster back and asymmetric top and bottom patch pockets. Comparisons to Brown’s Beach Jacket vests of the same period are inevitable. This vest has a single large interior pocket.
Woolrich still makes a version of this model, however, the snaps have given way to a zipper, the cut has been lengthened, the armholes lowered, the shape of the front and rear changed, the wool fabric is now a blend, the pockets are a different shape, the construction is different and the taped seams altered. There is really no comparison the the original.
This vest was made in the 1930s by Red Head Brand, a high end maker of hunting and outdoorsman’s garments. This style has come to be known as a half-moon hunting vest, after the shape of its pass through pockets into the game pouch. Period advertisements generally referred to this style as a sleeveless jacket rather than as a vest. This one has pleated, flapped patch pockets on the front, as well as two patch pockets on the lining. There is a roomy breast pocket, just the right size for a pack of cigarettes, The half-moons pass through to the roomy internal game pocket, which closes with a button.
The vest still has the original Red Head tag, shaped, appropriately, like a duck. The tag reads – “Red Head Fits The Sport. The Red Head duck signifies that this article is backed by years of experience in the equipping of sportsmen. It is your guarantee that nothing has been spared to assure you of satisfaction in the field – that the Red Head standard of quality, workmanship, and above all, the integrity of the Red Head Brand, known by sportsmen for over forty years, is the inimitable ingredient of the product. Play safe and look for this symbol when purchasing outdoor equipment – Red Head Brand Co. – Chicago”
Chest (pit to pit): 22″ (doubled = 44″)
This vintage hunting vest was made by the Gem Shirt Company of Dayton, Ohio in the 1910s. The Gem Shirt Co. was founded c.1888, and 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. They ceased production by the 1920s.
The vest has 37 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 is belted, but instead of the usual vest style central belt and buckle arrangement, this one has double side adjuster belts. It has Southwick buckles, a type patented in 1906, also used on some DuxBak vests of the period. It has an early black and yellow label, which identifies this model as the “Special”, made for “Outers and Hunters”. The grouse on the label is carried through onto the figural buttons. They are removable ring-back, of the type common on workwear of the period.
This vintage hunting vest was made in the 1920s. It is made from canvas, with thirty four closed bottomed shotgun shell loops. It has a high necked closure to keep out the elements, similar to the Browns Beach vests of the period, which were also designed for hunting. The vest has a buckle back. An ink-stamped canvas tag identifies this as a size 40.
This vintage hunting vest was made in the 1920s by the Red Head Brand, a premier maker of hunting garments at the time. It is an early style, high buttoning cut, with a six button front. It has canvas, closed bottomed shotgun shell loops, another hallmark of earlier manufacture hunting vests. There are loops for 38 shotgun shells on the front, and loops for another 23 on the back.
This has the earliest Red Head brand label I have yet to see. It is significantly larger than later labels, with a much more detailed duck. It reads Trade Mark Registered at the top, while labels from the 1930s and early 1940s read , “reg. us. pat. off”, and ones from the mid-late 1940s had the (R) symbol.