This vintage work vest was sold by Sears under their Hercules workwear label in the late 1930s or early 1940s. It predates the (R) on the label which would come after WWII. It has a high necked cut favored by work vests due to the greater warmth and protection it offered. The vest has two pockets and a full sheepskin lining. Construction and materials are similar to the shawl collared sheepskin mackinaws sold by Hercules at the same period.
This vest was made by a company called Maxwear, in the style of a 1930s work vest, similar to the ones made by Brown’s Beach Jacket and the sleeved versions made by Woolrich. It is made of thick wool approximating the pattern of an Indian blanket. It has a five snap front, with patch pockets. The back has adjuster tabs. Snaps have a star design, continuing the western theme started with the material.
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.
I was extremely lucky to find this Brown’s Beach Jacket in Woodside, Nova Scotia a few years back. It’s probably of 1950s manufacture, and with its Beach cloth, knit outside, fleeced inside, it is both warm and lightweight. This one is made of the blue beach cloth, rather than the more common gray. The jacket has Scovill snaps. As you can see by the pocket stitching in particular, the quality on these, at least by the ’50s, was somewhat hit or miss. It cracks me up with reproductions of items like this, which were utilitarian and mass produced. In so many cases the reproductions available today are of better quality and construction than the originals.
These jackets have become huge with workwear collectors. This one sold for around $1100.