1950s Harley Davidson Cycle Champ D-Pocket leather motorcycle jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/400994652332
This vintage jacket was made in the 1950s and was sold by Harley Davidson Motor Cycles. It is made of genuine Front Quarter Steerhide leather. The jacket has an asymmetrical motorcycle jacket cut, with a D pocket, zipped breast pocket, zipped side pockets, open zip cuffs and epaulettes. The ends of all the pockets are trimmed and reinforced with four nickel studs. That is doubled on the epaulettes. The jacket has a quilted lining, and Serval zippers throughout. It bears a 1949 Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America union label of the variant used from 1949-1962. The jacket is a dark seal brown.

Tagged size: 40
Chest (pit to pit): 22″ (doubled = 44″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 17″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 24″
Length (base of collar to hem): 22″

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On the Road in Billings, MT

One of the most common questions I get, right after, “how did you get into all this?”, is “where do you find all your stuff?”. It’s one of those questions that can be hard to answer. “Oh, you know, here and there” usually suffices and avoids the long story.  But the truth is, I drive a lot.

This weekend was a casual overnight excursion to Billings, Montana. For those of you not familiar with the area, the drive from Bozeman to Billings is just under 150 miles, and usually I make it as a day trip. So that’s a 300 mile round trip, hours on the road and a tank of gas, for the hope that maybe, just maybe, there will be some old ties or a couple of vintage hats waiting to be found. There are no guarantees in this business.

But I’ve had good luck in Billings in the past. There are a number of antique shops, thrift stores, secondhand stores and the like, and I usually get lucky at at least one or two.  This past weekend, one of the larger antique malls was having an outdoor antique fair, with its craigslist ad touting 70 vendors.  It was enough to hopefully tip the odds in my favor.

My girlfriend, Alex, and I drove out Friday night so that we could get an early start so we could be back in Bozeman before the sun started to set. We stayed at a charming 1950s motor court, the Dude Rancher Lodge. Neon, knotty pine and exposed beam ceilings combined with recent western themed carpets and brand wall hangings courtesy an appearance on “Hotel Impossible” several years ago, made for a charming place to stay. Full of character, it was way more fun than a chain motel, and just the right kind of place for vintage people like us.

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We made it to the fair a little later than we had hoped, it turned out that in Billings on a Saturday morning, everyone goes out for breakfast, and lined stretched out the door of everyplace good or interesting. I went against every fiber of my being and went to the practically deserted Denny’s for a generic breakfast. I think that might have cancelled out the “shop local” cred the Dude Rancher got me. Oh well.  There was a lot of re-purposed, re-painted, hand-made, shabby chic type of antiques at the fair, but also a few gems to be had. Afterward, we hit up the aforementioned antique shops in downtown Billings and a few of the thrifts. Here are a few of the neat things I spotted, but didn’t buy.  It seemed like I was tripping over vintage hats and vintage neckties at every step, but I have to be selective.  The market is really down on the more mundane patterns of 1940s ties, so even at the reasonable $6 a piece that one vendor was asking, there’s no way for me to make any money from that, so I let probably 30-some of them sit. Same with hats- below a certain size or a certain brim length, there’s such limited demand.
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Things survive in Billings. It’s a good town for lovers of vintage. Neon signs, ghost signs, architecture.
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After a long day of hunting, I managed to find a good sized cache of vintage hats, most of which were originally sold within a few miles of where I found them. But for me, the real treat was that leather jacket.  They’re all over the internet, but it’s getting harder and harder to find “out in the wild”. And this one’s a real beauty. Great patina and a rare model.  I’d love to know who wore it some 60 odd years ago, but I can say that it’s pretty likely they rode a Harley in Billings.
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Here’s the full haul all cleaned up and photographed. For those of you who are interested, you can check out the whole batch HERE
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1960s Harley Davidson leather pants

http://www.ebay.com/itm/271967398697
These vintage pants were made in the 1960s for Harley-Davidson. They are made of heavyweight black leather with an absolutely killer grain. They have a double snap waistband, heavy jacket size Conmar zipper fly and diamond pull zipper pockets.

Waist (side to side): 19″ (doubled = 38″)
Outseam: 47-1/2″
Inseam: 35″
Rise: 12-1/2″

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1930s Nite Hawks MC Detroit kidney belt

This vintage black leather kidney belt was made in the 1930s and was personalized by a member of the early motorcycle club, the Nite Hawks. This, along with the original owner’s 1930s Schott jacket (which I do not have) came out of a Baltimore, Maryland estate, although it appears that the Nite Hawks Motorcycle Club was based out of Detroit. It has wonderful round, flat, riveted studwork, and a three buckle fastening. the bottom belt has two studs.
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1960s Sears D-Pocket motorcycle jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/281318786990
This vintage D-Pocket leather motorcycle jacket was sold by Sears in the late 1960s-early 1970s. Sears introduced their D-Pocket motorcycle jacket model in the late 1940s. A simplified version, made of Steerhide instead of the Horsehide of the original came along in 1953. The model continued to be produced into the early 1970s with few changes. Although all sold by Sears, these were sold under a variety of Sears house brand labels, including Allstate, Sears Outerwear, Sears Fieldmaster, Oakbrook Sportswear and several versions of The Leather Shop label. The label, the hardware, and subtleties of the design help pin down the date of manufacture.

The jacket is made from black steerhide, with a D-Pocket (originally known as a map pocket and also known as a pistol pocket). The pocket on these 1960s models continue to the side seam. There is a smaller flapped cigarette pocket, and a zipper handwarmer/ slash cargo pocket on the other side. The jacket has a red nylon lining, Serval zippers, epaulettes, and a zipper at the collar for a detachable mouton collar. In a tradition dating back to the days of cowboys, and passed down through generations of bikers, the back of the jacket and the epaulettes have been embellished with stud work, in three sizes of studs.

Tagged size: 42
Chest (pit to pit): 23″ (doubled = 46″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 19″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 25″
Length (base of collar to hem): 23-1/2″

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1958

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1968

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1972

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Silver D-Pocket Motorcycle Jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/281095874481

This is a truly rare and unusual early D-Pocket motorcycle jacket. It is a Harley Davidson Cycle Champ style. The label is missing, but going by the Canadian made “Lightning” zips, it would appear this is an extremely early version of the pattern produced by the British Mfg. Co. It has early bell-shaped lightning zips, for the main and the sleeve zippers, with a Lightning chain zip on the D-pocket. The sleeves zip open, whereas on later Canadian-made versions of this jacket, they had gussets. There is a little snap belt at the end of the sleeve to further secure the cuff when zipped up, though one is missing. Studs on the pocket corners and on the epaulettes (though 3 of the 4 from the lapels are missing). These studs are the early rounded variety, where as later versions had ones which were more squared off. The epaulettes are of the early stitched down variety, whereas later examples had ones with snaps.
The most unusual feature is definitely the color. You don’t see a lot of silver leather jackets, and yes, that is the original color, it is not some kind of later re-spray. This was definitely a signature piece for some biker, and he wore it long and hard.

Heavy smoke smell which I have been unable to remove. Overall wear to leather. Wear through leather at collar. Damage and stitch separation to left cuff. Missing snap belt closure on right cuff. Missing one belt loop. Heavy damage to front belt leather. Separation to stitching on cigarette pocket. Wear to lining, worn through near cuffs.

Chest (pit to pit): 22″
Shoulder to Shoulder: 19″
Shoulder to cuff: 24″
Length (bottom of collar to hem): 22-1/2″
Waist: 18″

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Canadian Cycle Champ D-Pocket leather jacket

http://www.ebay.com/itm/281050498657

Another one of the jackets seen HERE

This vintage leather jacket is a “Wind Cheater” made by the British Mfg. Co. of Montreal, Canada.  At other points in the company’s life, they were known as Brimaco and as British Cycle Leathers.  This jacket was made in the 1960s, and is a copy of the famous Harley Davidson Cycle Champ leather jacket’s design.  It has a large D-Pocket, with smaller cigarette pockets on either side of the jacket.  There are studs on the epaulettes and at points of stress on the pockets.  It has a front belt and zip cuffs.  The jacket has Canadian made “Acme” zippers.  It is fully lined in tartan wool.  Snaps are all “United Carr” brand. Chest: 23-1/2″Shoulder to Shoulder: 19″Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 23-1/2″    Photobucket

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