On The Road: Idaho

For this past weekend’s picking trip, Alex and I headed down to Idaho, leaving before dawn and taking the back roads. Our first day was spent in Idaho Falls, hunting through all the antique shops and thrift stores.  When we were last in Idaho Falls, Alex bought a Pentax Spotmatic camera and upon returning to Bozeman discovered a roll of 15 year old undeveloped vacation photos from the Grand Canyon inside.  She tracked down the man who sold her the camera and delivered some prints.

I got off to a pretty good start, finding some WWII shipbuilder badges right off the bat, followed up by a ’40s western shirt, WWII USN duffle and an early ’50s fedora in nearly unworn condition.  When I started vintage dealing, back around 2006 at the tender age of fifteen (gosh how time flies), antique shops were chockablock with hats like that and my ceiling price was somewhere in the range of $20. I very rarely found ones at that point any more expensive than that.  Then eBay really took off, the Fedora Lounge boomed and demand exploded.  The supply in antique shops either dried up or mirrored the rising prices on eBay, and I basically was priced out of the hat market.  Prior to 2008, I was almost exclusively a hat dealer, only coming to the rest of the vintage clothes market when hats became too expensive and scarce for me to make a living off of them.  Out here in Montana I still find 1960s western hats with some degree of regularity, but while I love them for myself, the seller’s market on them isn’t great.  Finding a real vintage hat in the kind of condition and at the price I was eight years ago was really a thrill.

On to the neon pictures- Idaho is the land of surviving mid-century signs.  Throw a rock, you’re bound to hit some kind of beautiful signage (metaphorically).



Theme hotels are also big in Idaho for some reason.  We stayed at the Black Swan Inn in Pocatello, in the pirate themed room.  It was delightfully over the top, with an under the sea mural crashing through the side of the sunken “ship” (complete with curved ribs!), a stocked fish tank under the bar, a cannon as the tub faucet, jewels and booty embedded in the counter tops and swords over the door.  A bit pricier than a Motel Six, but who remembers a highway motel after you’ve left it.  I certainly can’t. I don’t think I stopped giggling about all the little details and wonderfully absurd conceits of the room for a solid hour.  Every part of my past seven years of architectural education (I’m a grad student in Architecture on top of this vintage gig, how ’bout that?) wants to hate places like this, but god I love them so much.

Back on the road, and on to Twin Falls, then back to Pocatello.  Sunday was, of course, more of a sightseeing and driving day than a thrifting day. In this part of the country, you’re lucky to find a few restaurants and gas stations open on Sundays, forget about shops. The antique shop in Twin Falls that I made some big finds at on my last trip, back in May, had a hand-written sign in the window that they recently stopped being open Mondays, and the Salvation Army, who we called beforehand, was also closed, and the Goodwill no longer exists.

Deseret Industries, for those of you who don’t have them in your area, are organized by color, which appeals to the obsessive in me, but makes digging through everything time consuming and annoying.  All the DI’s had almost exclusively suits and jackets made within the past 10 years and mysteriously absolutely no men’s outerwear. As they’re a chain, along the lines of Goodwill, each location is set up in exactly the same way inside and I have to say it was disconcerting going into a couple of them in a row, separated by hours of driving.  Like walking through a door into the room you just came from.


Not a bad haul despite the picking stalling for the second two days.



1920s-1930s Carss Mackinaw

This vintage coat was made in Ontario, Canada in the 1920s- mid 1930s by Carss Mackinaw. It is made from a distinctive plaid, with caped shoulders, four flapped, buttoned patch pockets, a belted back and a rolled collar. As was typical of work mackinaws of this early period, this one is unlined.

Chest (pit to pit): 22″
Shoulder to shoulder: 17″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 26-1/2″
Length (base of collar to hem): 31″

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North West Mounted Police Buffalo Fur Coat

This vintage coat was made in the 1890s-early 1900s from buffalo fur for the North West Mounted Police. The North West Mounted Police was founded in 1873 and existed until 1904, when it was succeeded by the Royal North West Mounted Police, then by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920. This bears the NWMP buttons of the earliest iteration. The coat has a broad shawl collar and double breasted closure, with distinctive leather straps on the front. It has leather reinforcement to the lining at the underarms and by the collar, as well as riveted leather reinforcement at the vent.

Chest (pit to pit): 23″ (doubled = 46″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 18″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 25″
Length (base of collar to hem): 37″

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1950s Sears Hercules sheeplined work vest

This vintage vest was made in the 1950s for Sears under their Hercules Outerwear workwear label. The style of the vest, with its cotton shell, high buttoning closure and sheepskin lining, is unchanged since the 1930s.

Chest (pit to pit): 24″ (doubled = 48″)
Length (Base of collar to hem): 22-1/2″

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1940s Woolrich mackinaw with Talon Zipper front

This vintage coat was made c.1943 by the Woolrich Woolen Mills of Woolrich, PA. It is a size 44, and a relatively rare style, with a bell-shaped Talon zipper with sunburst stop-box. It has a broad, rounded collar, breast pockets with the plain snaps used by Woolrich during WWII and handwarmer pockets. It has low slung side adjuster belts and rear entry game pouch.

Chest (pit to pit): 25″ (doubled = 50″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 19-1/2″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 24-1/2″
Length (base of collar to hem): 26-1/2″

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WWII Coast Guard jacket

This vintage coat was made during WWII. It is made from black canvas, and is single breasted with flapped pockets, and a belted back. It is stenciled with the original owners name inside.

Chest (pit to pit): 24″ (doubled = 48″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 19″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 23-1/2″
Length (base of collar to hem): 44-1/2″

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1940s two tone Hollywood jacket

This vintage Hollywood jacket was made in the 1940s-early 1950s. It is two tone brown on brown wool, and appears to be home tailored.

Chest (pit to pit): 23″ (doubled = 46″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 19″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 22″
Length (Base of collar to hem): 27″

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Congress Sportswear Hudson’s Bay point blanket jacket

This vintage jacket was made in the 1930s-1940s by Congress Sportswear from Hudson’s Bay Point Blankets. It bears a late 1930s style narrow black HBC blanket label, and Congress’s pre-war style manufacturer’s label. The blankets this one is made from are the earlier, higher quality English made ones. The coat has high mounted button adjuster tabs on the sides, and button adjusters at the cuffs. The stitching on the c.1960s Scovill zipper is non matching, and over a layer of stitching from the original zipper. This Hudson’s Bay fabric was extremely expensive, generally doubling the cost of the coat over a more traditional mackinaw wool, and as such, many of the ones I see bear such repairs, where the original owner has kept the coat in service for decades.

Chest (pit to pit): 22-1/2″ (doubled = 45″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 18″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 23-1/2″
Length (Base of collar to hem): 32″

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Lesco leather motorcycle jacket

This jacket was made in the 1970s by Lesco. It is made of black leather, in a classic motorcycle jacket style.

Chest (pit to pit): 22″ (doubled = 44″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 17″
Sleeve (Shoulder to cuff): 24-1/2″
Length (Base of collar to hem): 25″

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