1930s leather police motorcycle jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/271715598736
This vintage leather jacket was made in the late 1930 for a police motorcycle force. It is made of heavy black leather in an early motorcycle style. The jacket has a double-breasted, zip front cut, with snap belt buckles for a heavy garrison belt. It has lace-up sides, button cuffs with internal knit cuffs and zippered handwarmer/cargo pockets. The jacket is lined with wool and has an inside zip pocket. The main zipper is a later replacement, probably from the 1960s or 1970s. It appears that at that time a nylon liner was added overtop the original 1930s wool lining, but all that remains are a few shreds by the shoulder. The jacket has been heavily worn, implying a life after its original police usage. There are snaps for a mouton collar, as well as snaps on the belt loops. Some of these are 1920s United States Fastener snaps, others are United Carr made in the 1930s after United States Fastener and Carr merged. There are even RF Co snaps thrown into the mix. The pockets have late 1930s bell-shaped Talon zippers, while the interior pocket has an extremely rare version of the chain zipper with a Talon marked ring.

Chest (pit to pit): 22″ (doubled = 44″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 17″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 24″
Length (base of collar to hem): 22-1/4″

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Padded CHP leather jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/271233323658
This leather jacket is made in the “Columbia” style, pioneered by Langlitz leathers. This style is also known as the CHP / California Highway Patrol. This particular one was sold by “Leather Man”, and is a size 50. It has quilted, padded shoulders and elbows, an asymmetric zip, and zip cuffs with sheepskin storm cuffs. This is made of extremely heavyweight leather.

Chest (pit to pit): 26″ (doubled = 52″)
Waist: 22″ (doubled = 44″)
Shoulder to Shoulder: 20″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 26″
Length (base of collar to hem, down back): 22-1/2″

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Nylon CHP jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/281078362397

This vintage motorcycle jacket was custom tailored by Lancer Leathers of Phoenix, Arizona. Going by the Lenzip zippers, I’d say it was made in the 1970s. It is the classic Columbia / CHP style, unchanged since the late 1940s. This one follows the pattern, with the concealed snaps in the collar and lapels, the zipped front pockets, the shourt length, zip cuffs, laced side panels, and kidney panel. This throws a nice twist on the design with its heavy nylon material. It has leather elbow reinforcement padds, and leather detailing on the cuff zippers and the laced panels. With the 48″ chest, I would recommend this jacket for either a size 44 or 46.

Chest (pit to pit): 24″ (doubled =48″)
Shoulder to Shoulder: 18″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 23″

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Black CHP jacket

This one I’m keeping for myself.  It’s a Langlitz Columbia / California Highway Patrol style jacket.  7 pounds of leather.

A lot of people out there buying modern high end reproductions of ’30s jacket styles talk about how authentic their jackets are. To prove this point they reference how their jackets weigh eight pounds and can stand up on their own, how they can stop bullets. How anything that’s not made from the worlds stiffest 4oz horsehide is “mall jacket quality”. That kind of thing.  The more I hear about this kind of thing, and the more original jackets I handle, the more I’m convinced these people have never seen an actual vintage jacket.  Most of the vintage jackets I’ve handled clock in at three and a half pounds, post conditioning. The counterargument people will use against that is that they’ve lost moisture and therefore weight over the years, and I know that these jackets do.  But they usually put on several ounces after conditioner is applied to bring them back to their original state, not four and a half pounds.

Back to the jacket at hand.  Like I say, clocking in at 7 pounds, which is a lot for such a short jacket, it’s almost uncomfortable to wear, so sizing is important. This one is a good fit for me, tight through the body, but not uncomfortably so.  A big complaint I have with modern production motorcycle jackets I’ve tried on is their length. As with seemingly everything these days, they’ve become longer and longer, gradually lengthening to close to the length of a suit jacket.

There was a reason that old utility jackets, denim jackets, and motorcycle jackets hit the wearer right at the beltline.  When you sit down, or ride a motorcycle, or do anything that requires any action, a long jacket will either bunch up or ride up.  With a heavy leather jacket like this, the riding up scenario is more likely. With a jacket like this, the bottom of the jacket lines up just about with where you bend in the middle, which means no matter how you move, the jacket stays right where it should.  Some modern jacket makers try to get around this length issue by putting a two-way zipper on their product, allowing the jacket to be opened at the bottom. It’s a good solution, but I fine that more often than not, makers continue the “V” shape of the jacket all the way to the bottom, which means (for me, at least) they are either uncomfortably tight across the hips, or that you have to size up, making them too baggy in the chest.  Give me an old fashioned waist length jacket any day.

You may notice on the long half-belt jackets of the ’30s-’50s that the zipper starts a good six to eight inches higher than the bottom hem, and that on older suit jackets and overcoats, the button stance was higher.  This allowed you, even with a longer length, to keep your jacket buttoned or zipped, keeping the cold and wind out.

This jacket dates from the 1970s, and has a heavy gauge Talon main zipper.  It has zipped sleeve cuffs with mouton panels at the end to keep a tight seal when fully zipped. I like my jackets on the simple side without a lot of hardware. It’s easy for a motorcycle jacket to get into punk or fetish territory in a hurry, especially one like this.  For that reason, I like the concealed lapel studs, the simple pockets, and the un-fussy yoked back.  It is well detailed, but practical, and thought out. I’m not in love with the belt loops, as I have no intention of wearing a garrison belt with it, but I can live with them. The jacket came with a snap on mouton panel, which covers the rider’s chest and throat while the jacket is worn with the lapels open.

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