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Old 11-25-2015, 10:41 AM
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Default Maker Specific.......A.W. Brill

Thanks to boykinlp for the thread on Lawrence, some beauties for sure in that one.

Lets try Mr. Brill, may be a bit difficult to get a bunch of images of his excellent work.
Floral tooled, 4 inch N frame.

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Last edited by lawandorder; 11-25-2015 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 11-25-2015, 11:10 AM
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Here is a near mint Brill for a Colt SAA shown along side my version that I call the Ranger...



The same Brill holding the custom Colt built for my all time favorite gunwriter...



And here is another shown with my 1908...

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Old 11-25-2015, 11:18 AM
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Forgot to add this one... John was kind enough to let me handle what I consider to be the finest holster I've ever laid my hands on... shown along side one of my Ranger models for a 1911...

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Old 11-25-2015, 12:39 PM
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Well, I WISH I could add something to this thread, but I don't have a Brill in my collection yet. I haven't seen to many for sale, and the ones I have seen, have been dogs.

The ones that have been shown here, so far, are fantastic and I hope there will be more shown.
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Old 11-25-2015, 12:56 PM
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Here is one for a 1911 that a previous owner trimmed slightly to fit his needs.

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Old 11-25-2015, 01:02 PM
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And another Basket weave one I gave to one of my friends because he is one of those Colt folks. Gotta admit I like the look of the iron he paired it with.

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Old 11-25-2015, 01:17 PM
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The Brill is my favorite design from the old masters of the early to mis 1900s. The style can be modified like the Threepersons has by many makers. These are all Brill influenced to some degree, but not dead on and some farfetched obviously.






The same holster on different belts with different guns in it...









And believe it or not, even this one...

Last edited by Wyatt Burp; 11-29-2015 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 11-25-2015, 01:47 PM
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They are few and far between and much sought after. Here's the few that I've managed to acquire.
N frame 4" with a hammer protector and K frame 4".

As Mike said, this is a fine holster- one of the finest I own. For a Colt Government Model.

Another 4" K frame holster.

Good idea, Tony.
Regards,
turnerriver
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Old 11-25-2015, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turnerriver View Post
They are few and far between and much sought after. Here's the few that I've managed to acquire.
N frame 4" with a hammer protector and K frame 4".

As Mike said, this is a fine holster- one of the finest I own. For a Colt Government Model.

Another 4" K frame holster.

Good idea, Tony.
Regards,
turnerriver



John, that N frame Brill is pretty doggone impressive too!
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Old 11-26-2015, 09:44 AM
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I only have one,a gift from the originator of this thread (thanks again Tony ). I have tried numerous,and I mean NUMEROUS,guns in this holster and have yet to find one that fits properly. Since there is no size code,I have no other way to identify the gun for which it was made. It's a cute little bugger though.



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Old 11-26-2015, 12:13 PM
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Could someone please post a picture of the welt side that shows how the bottom were the flap meets the bottom of the of the holster pouch. Thanks, Mark
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Old 11-26-2015, 12:20 PM
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I love Brill holsters. I have had Alex at American Classic Gunleather make me some super cool variants (not sure if it is okay to post them). I have a Ranger coming from Doc Barranti and a full rig from Keith44spl with his version. I am hoping for a very Brill Christmas this year.
Turnerriver.....that 4" n frame holster is stunning. Good stuff.
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Old 11-27-2015, 05:32 PM
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Default 4" K Frame, basketweave Brill

I bought this one sight-unseen here on the forum. I liked it so much that I had to run out and buy a K frame to fit it

Now, if I could just find one for an N frame









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Old 11-28-2015, 09:50 AM
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Found another pic...left to right: 1911, SAA, Police Positive and 1903/08
Bottom shuck is one of mine...

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Old 12-08-2015, 09:41 AM
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Giving this thread a bump!

Hoping some other folks have some pics to add!

Here are a few of my Ranger model that I've made.





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Old 12-11-2015, 06:53 AM
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Doc Barranti made the Brill with hammer protector shown above in post #15 for me. It was inspired by Turnerriver's Brill with hammer protector shown in post #9 above. It is excuisite in every way. I became interested in Brill 2 or 3 years ago when Butch Cassidy's .45 and (Brill) holster sold at auction for $175,000. You can see good photos of Butch's Brill if you Google: California Auctioneer's to sell Butch Cassidy's 'Amnesty' Colt .45. Actually there were two Brill's: August the Dad 1872-1954 and Arnold the Son 1896-1968. The Butch Cassidy holster was made by August the Dad probably in 1896. Legend has it that the "Austin Style" Brill was designed by Texas Ranger Lee Trimble, but Brill didn't make Trimble's holster until around 1925.
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Old 12-11-2015, 08:42 AM
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Please excuse my spelling in previous post. I meant to say the Brill made for me by Doc Barranti is exquisite not ecquisite. But in either case Mr. Webster says "it is marked by flawless craftsmanship...beautiful, ingenious,
delicate, or elaborate execution."
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Old 12-11-2015, 07:17 PM
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Here's one I owned and wore. I gave it a holster collecting friend of mine after I'd retired.

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Old 12-12-2015, 12:38 AM
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This 1936 vintage Colt Official Police .38 Spl. that served w/ U.S.Customs in Tampa Florida has been mated w/ this holster for a long time (maybe its' entire working life)


Last edited by policerevolvercollector; 12-12-2015 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fat tom View Post
I only have one,a gift from the originator of this thread (thanks again Tony ). I have tried numerous,and I mean NUMEROUS,guns in this holster and have yet to find one that fits properly. Since there is no size code,I have no other way to identify the gun for which it was made. It's a cute little bugger though.



f.t.
Karma idea! The individual that has the perfect fit gun for this holster wins it in a karma!!
Of course you being a shrewd trader would insist upon receiving the gun to confirm the perfect fit, and then an appropriate trial period to confirm fit over time! 😙
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:07 PM
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I have a Ranger Brill on order now with Doc Barranti for a 4" 1926 3rd Model .44. This thread is not helping my trying hard to be patient.
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Old 09-14-2016, 09:20 AM
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Russel Cottle: "I gave it to a holster collecting friend of mine after I'd retired."

I sure wish I was that friend. I would love to have a Brill like
that for my Colt Gold Cup.
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:10 AM
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fat tom have you tried a High Standard Sentinel with 2" barrel?
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Old 09-18-2016, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by policerevolvercollector View Post
This 1936 vintage Colt Official Police .38 Spl. that served w/ U.S.Customs in Tampa Florida has been mated w/ this holster for a long time (maybe its' entire working life)

...... a little "Black Rock" later:



Best,
Charles
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Old 09-18-2016, 06:39 PM
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Fat Tom, have you tried a Colt Agent in that Brill? Looks like it would be a good fit?
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Old 09-22-2016, 05:04 AM
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fat tom that retention strap looks to be an add on?
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Old 09-28-2016, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawandorder View Post
Thanks to boykinlp for the thread on Lawrence, some beauties for sure in that one.

Lets try Mr. Brill, may be a bit difficult to get a bunch of images of his excellent work.
Floral tooled, 4 inch N frame.


Absolutely Magnificent ! All those below are beautiful holsters but this first one leaves me breathless .

Eddie
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Old 09-29-2016, 01:14 AM
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Posted this not long ago. The Hank Williams Jr 3rd model 44spl in an unmarked Brill holster. Got this one from John who attributed this one to Brill and that's good enough for me. An old warrior for sure.



Charlie
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crsides View Post
Posted this not long ago. The Hank Williams Jr 3rd model 44spl in an unmarked Brill holster. Got this one from John who attributed this one to Brill and that's good enough for me. An old warrior for sure.



Charlie
Very nice. The only other 'unmarked' Brill I'm aware of -- and of course I haven't seen them all! -- is the one that is currently mated to Butch Cassidy's SAA; and it actually IS marked but not on the cuff but on the fender as is conventional with other makers.

I've only known about Brills for a year or so, despite being in the holster industry all my adult life. I guess that's because the Brill had no known direct impact on holster technology that exploded in the 1960s. My recent research suggests that perhaps it had more than was heretofore realised.

More significantly, though, is that because there are few who have handled a Brill -- I've never handled one -- we evaluate the design on the basis of its photographs in profile, sometimes but not always accompanied by a rear view. So until now we've not understood that the Brill is the world's first "engineered" holster, even before the Berns-Martin and the Hoyt spring holsters.

It is said that a Threepersons, for example, has the feature that the holster is fitted tightly to the belt and stays in position. Myres does this, beginning in 1931 with its famous 614, with a simple blank that has a 'tongue' extending from that pocket that is folded and then stitched to the back of the holster to form a rough tunnel for the belt. But a Brill uses a structure to form a well-defined tunnel: the cuff's edges are parallel to the fold that forms the top of the tunnel, to form the bottom of the tunnel. That's not at all how the 'jockstrap' on a Myres ranger holster works; the latter simply holds the holster down on the fender. The edges of the Brill's cuff bear on the belt on two sides, creating a triangulation of friction.

Then there's the stitching at the muzzle of the holster. The rear tip of the holster pocket extends so that it can be stitched to the fender; the holster pocket now can't be pulled loose from the cuff when the pistol is drawn (made for both revolvers and autos).

And most importantly, and in my view the essence of what a threerpersons is, is something one would be unaware of unless one saw a side elevation view of the holster near the trigger guard; and wouldn't grasp the significance of unless one were a holster maker: a DA Brill has THREE thick welts at the frame in front of the revolver trigger guard -- it's a retention system that replaces the leather that heretofore in holster had run up around the trigger guard hoop.

Sessums' copy uses only a single welt, suggesting that Sessums did not understand what he was copying, or his stitching machine wouldn't handle five layers of saddle leather including lining. My state-of-the-art Bull certainly won't do it; it would have taken just the right needle-and-awl machine to handle all that thickness every single time. They certainly existed, though, and are used today by all the long-time makers. But no one volunteers to risk sewing all their welts in the manner of a Brill.

Some pics, showing a Brill with three welts, a Sessums with one welt for an auto (typical of a Myres 614, too), and the Brill (it's marked with Brill's familiar stamp) that reputedly belonged to Butch although we can't make the dates work if Butch really died in 1908 :-)

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Old 10-02-2016, 04:38 PM
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crsides: That unmarked Brill you show in #28 above might well be even
more rare than a Brill. Red Nichols told me about a maker in Austin named
Mr. Rabensburg, who made a holster in 1906 for John Hughes who later
became Captain of Texas Rangers. The holster looks very much like the
Brill, but August Brill was still an apprentice or salesman at W. T. Wroe
in Austin. He didn't start his own business until 1912.
I googled the Rabensburg holster and found some good photos and
information at: 2007 Minnesota Weapons Collectors Association,
Volume 22, ussue 1, dated January 2008. Pages 13 & 14.
Apparantly Rabensburg didn't use a makers mark, it is said that his
initials are on some of his holsters.
You may have the holster that taught August Brill how to make his
famous design.
Let us know if you find any initials on it.
CORRECTION: Rabensburg put the owners initials on the holsters.
Not his own initials.
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Old 10-03-2016, 05:27 AM
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Phil (crazyphil) and I have invested quite a bit of time researching how the threepersons holster came to pass, and in playing devil's advocate with our shared research, I believe we have come up with the following as "plausible"; better -- "likely".

That's because we've stumbled across some unlikely references by changing up our search terms, so instead of coming across the usual -- someone like Skeeter Skelton with the old myths -- we encounter the unusual -- like the 1920s newspaper article about Tom (and about which he vigorously complained to the newspaper).

This is how it appears to have occurred:

1. Captain John Hughes, Captain in the Texas Rangers by 1893, visits a local saddlery while temporarily assigned to Austin, Texas. He meets with one Newton Rabensburg and likely with August Brill, both we think working for a previously unspecified saddler in Austin namely W.T. Wroe. Hughes' specification is quite thorough and fits the threepersons paradigm including retention and high ride because cities are objecting to open carry and they will be carried under coats. This is 1907 and makes plausible that Butch Cassidy's famed Amnesty Colt ended up in a holster marked Brill, though both Brill and Rabensburg are quite young. Captain Hughes is well known to Sam Myres as set out in Sandra Myres' biography of the latter, and indeed is the man credited with the buscadero (for "the searchers") belt by Myres.

2. August Brill bears a son named Arno, who by 1913 or so is of age: he's 16, and August founds his A.W. Brill that year. All of the men -- August, Arno, and Arno's son -- are A.W. Brills, but the youngest A.W. dies at the end of WWII. W.T. Roe appears to still be in business in its own right in 1914, so though it's been suggested that August Brill bought out that company, it's likely it continued on its own. Famed Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and another are photographed wearing what must be Brills based on their high ride and the appearance of the trademark cuff on the outside of the holster. The captions suggest these are Rabensburg of a style called a "sunday" holster and today would be called a "bbq" holster: the 'dress blues' version and not for wearing on the trail.

3. Hughes has worked with Rabensburg to create an "issue" holster for the Rangers, rather than for a personal one-off, and soon he has retired by 1916 at age 60. Enter Lee Trimble, a much younger man who has joined the Texas Rangers in 1918 at just 26. Shortly he encounters Tom Threepersons who is an El Paso patrolman by 1920; and rather than the legend that they share ideas, Trimble shows him his Brill/Rabensburg, the latter not ever marked unless with the owner's initials. But Brills are indeed marked. Retention without a strap is the must-have option: Brill or Rabensburg have come up with the triple welt, which applies significant pressure to the long frame in front of the guard on the SAA, which is the favoured handgun of the Rangers. Brill also makes a version for the 1911, which in 38 Super is the 'other' go-to pistol for the Rangers; and for the 38/44 (Threepersons himself had, as his 'other' pistol, a Triple Lock).

4. Threepersons takes this holster or another like it, to Sam Myres. But Sam is not in the holster business during Threepersons' law enforcement career -- all of the 1920s -- and according to Sandra Myres' bio, is losing money in a big way because of the Great Depression and the Model T introduced in 1908, which has caused 2/3 of all of Texas' saddlemakers to close. Sam decides he will close his saddlery and make the switch to holsters. He's lost Sweetwater to fire, his first wife to divorce, and his second wife to illness, and by 1929 is about 60.

5. Arno Brill is said to have gone to work for Sam Myres in 1929, and we now believe that Arno, who was there only 1-2 years, developed Myres new holster line. He is about 32. In Sam's first catalogue of 1931: the model 666, which is the Brill but with two minor changes that suited it to mass production: the cuff is now riveted to the fender rather than the very difficult stitching; and the welt is now a single thick layer rather than Brill's triple-thickness welt (ditto on the very difficult stitching). The cuff is even marked dead center with the maker's mark, as with the Brill, and this becomes the standard for such Myres as the more-familiar 'jock strap' holsters (called 'ranger' holsters by Myres). The now-famous 614, of FBI fame, is far simpler to build and appears less bulky, and the FBI by default makes it the go-to holster over the Brill of the Texas Rangers. Think Special Agent Campbell and his famous tommy-gun pic.

6. Threepersons is on his way out of law enforcement (1929), and Sam Myres is smart enough to realise (proven by his results) that he can get credibility for his new range, which he is not know for at all, by naming them for famous persons. So the new range is named for Threepersons, Tom endorse it in that same catalogue with a letter dated 1930, and so do a host of other big names of the era including Eugene Cunningham. Hughes himself doesn't even endorse the buscadero belt. Sam goes on to name his existing Border Holster for Charlie Askins. Sandra Myres notes that by the end of the 1940s Sam's company is back in the black and prospering. There are only two known personal holsters of Tom Threepersons, one of which once belonged to John Bianchi -- a Myres 614 -- and is in a private collection now. The Fifties and Sixties see off all the players: Hughes by 1947, then Egland (see below), then Sam, then August, then Rabensburg, then Arno Brill, then finally Tom by 1969.

7. There is a sort of sequel to the story: the second holster, which is now in my collection, is neither a Myres nor a Brill. Unmarked, it appears from its unusual construction to be the work of Arne Egland, an Arizona maker whose own shop opened in 1918. The widow of Fred Wells, noted rifle maker, was given the holster by Tom personally at the oldest rodeo in the world: Prescott, Arizona in 1933, when young Fred, then 13, spoke to Tom and admired it. It's marked only crudely on the back, with "H W", who was Fred's younger brother Homer Wells. Rachel Wells tells me that Fred was so proud of the holster that he produced it to visitors to his shop and home in Prescott for the rest of his life.
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Old 10-03-2016, 05:48 AM
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Very good summary Red. It could make a very interesting book with
illustrations. But a limited market I'm afraid.

Only point I would add to your summary is that I believe much more
credit is due Ranger Captain Hughes. It should not be called the Austin,
or the Brill. Hughes called it the "Sunday Holster" because it was
designed to wear under the suit jacket. I suggest we call it the Hughes
design or the Sunday holster.

Legends are fun and easy to write about because if you don't know
something, you just make it up. Factual research is not easy. I thank
Red for the research he has done.
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Old 10-03-2016, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by rednichols View Post
Phil (crazyphil) and I have invested quite a bit of time researching how the threepersons holster came to pass, and in playing devil's advocate with our shared research, I believe we have come up with the following as "plausible"; better -- "likely".

That's because we've stumbled across some unlikely references by changing up our search terms, so instead of coming across the usual -- someone like Skeeter Skelton with the old myths -- we encounter the unusual -- like the 1920s newspaper article about Tom (and about which he vigorously complained to the newspaper).

This is how it appears to have occurred:

1. Captain John Hughes, Captain in the Texas Rangers by 1893, visits a local saddlery while temporarily assigned to Austin, Texas. He meets with one Newton Rabensburg and likely with August Brill, both we think working for a previously unspecified saddler in Austin namely W.T. Wroe. Hughes' specification is quite thorough and fits the threepersons paradigm including retention and high ride because cities are objecting to open carry and they will be carried under coats. This is 1907 and makes plausible that Butch Cassidy's famed Amnesty Colt ended up in a holster marked Brill, though both Brill and Rabensburg are quite young. Captain Hughes is well known to Sam Myres as set out in Sandra Myres' biography of the latter, and indeed is the man credited with the buscadero (for "the searchers") belt by Myres.

2. August Brill bears a son named Arno, who by 1913 or so is of age: he's 16, and August founds his A.W. Brill that year. All of the men -- August, Arno, and Arno's son -- are A.W. Brills, but the youngest A.W. dies at the end of WWII. W.T. Roe appears to still be in business in its own right in 1914, so though it's been suggested that August Brill bought out that company, it's likely it continued on its own. Famed Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and another are photographed wearing what must be Brills based on their high ride and the appearance of the trademark cuff on the outside of the holster. The captions suggest these are Rabensburg of a style called a "sunday" holster and today would be called a "bbq" holster: the 'dress blues' version and not for wearing on the trail.

3. Hughes has worked with Rabensburg to create an "issue" holster for the Rangers, rather than for a personal one-off, and soon he has retired by 1916 at age 60. Enter Lee Trimble, a much younger man who has joined the Texas Rangers in 1918 at just 26. Shortly he encounters Tom Threepersons who is an El Paso patrolman by 1920; and rather than the legend that they share ideas, Trimble shows him his Brill/Rabensburg, the latter not ever marked unless with the owner's initials. But Brills are indeed marked. Retention without a strap is the must-have option: Brill or Rabensburg have come up with the triple welt, which applies significant pressure to the long frame in front of the guard on the SAA, which is the favoured handgun of the Rangers. Brill also makes a version for the 1911, which in 38 Super is the 'other' go-to pistol for the Rangers; and for the 38/44 (Threepersons himself had, as his 'other' pistol, a Triple Lock).

4. Threepersons takes this holster or another like it, to Sam Myres. But Sam is not in the holster business during Threepersons' law enforcement career -- all of the 1920s -- and according to Sandra Myres' bio, is losing money in a big way because of the Great Depression and the Model T introduced in 1908, which has caused 2/3 of all of Texas' saddlemakers to close. Sam decides he will close his saddlery and make the switch to holsters. He's lost Sweetwater to fire, his first wife to divorce, and his second wife to illness, and by 1929 is about 60.

5. Arno Brill is said to have gone to work for Sam Myres in 1929, and we now believe that Arno, who was there only 1-2 years, developed Myres new holster line. He is about 32. In Sam's first catalogue of 1931: the model 666, which is the Brill but with two minor changes that suited it to mass production: the cuff is now riveted to the fender rather than the very difficult stitching; and the welt is now a single thick layer rather than Brill's triple-thickness welt (ditto on the very difficult stitching). The cuff is even marked dead center with the maker's mark, as with the Brill, and this becomes the standard for such Myres as the more-familiar 'jock strap' holsters (called 'ranger' holsters by Myres). The now-famous 614, of FBI fame, is far simpler to build and appears less bulky, and the FBI by default makes it the go-to holster over the Brill of the Texas Rangers. Think Special Agent Campbell and his famous tommy-gun pic.

6. Threepersons is on his way out of law enforcement (1929), and Sam Myres is smart enough to realise (proven by his results) that he can get credibility for his new range, which he is not know for at all, by naming them for famous persons. So the new range is named for Threepersons, Tom endorse it in that same catalogue with a letter dated 1930, and so do a host of other big names of the era including Eugene Cunningham. Hughes himself doesn't even endorse the buscadero belt. Sam goes on to name his existing Border Holster for Charlie Askins. Sandra Myres notes that by the end of the 1940s Sam's company is back in the black and prospering. There are only two known personal holsters of Tom Threepersons, one of which once belonged to John Bianchi -- a Myres 614 -- and is in a private collection now. The Fifties and Sixties see off all the players: Hughes by 1947, then Egland (see below), then Sam, then August, then Rabensburg, then Arno Brill, then finally Tom by 1969.

7. There is a sort of sequel to the story: the second holster, which is now in my collection, is neither a Myres nor a Brill. Unmarked, it appears from its unusual construction to be the work of Arne Egland, an Arizona maker whose own shop opened in 1918. The widow of Fred Wells, noted rifle maker, was given the holster by Tom personally at the oldest rodeo in the world: Prescott, Arizona in 1933, when young Fred, then 13, spoke to Tom and admired it. It's marked only crudely on the back, with "H W", who was Fred's younger brother Homer Wells. Rachel Wells tells me that Fred was so proud of the holster that he produced it to visitors to his shop and home in Prescott for the rest of his life.

Red,

Brilliantly researched and written! As always, a lot is learned from your posts...Thanks! Would love to see your Wells/Threepersons!
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Old 10-03-2016, 11:36 AM
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Great information. Thanks !

Eddie
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Old 10-03-2016, 02:18 PM
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Red,

Brilliantly researched and written! As always, a lot is learned from your posts...Thanks! Would love to see your Wells/Threepersons!


....and Phil too!
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Old 10-03-2016, 04:03 PM
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Red,

Brilliantly researched and written! As always, a lot is learned from your posts...Thanks! Would love to see your Wells/Threepersons!
I think I'll wait until it goes through a minor restoration here. It will be a bit before it is in my hands while the curator turnerriver looks it over and photographs it with a real SAA (I can't do this here). John was very thoughtful in agreeing to receive it first from Fred Wells' widow, who is a noted gun engraver in Prescott.
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Old 10-03-2016, 04:17 PM
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I think I'll wait until it goes through a minor restoration here. It will be a bit before it is in my hands while the curator turnerriver looks it over and photographs it with a real SAA (I can't do this here). John was very thoughtful in agreeing to receive it first from Fred Wells' widow, who is a noted gun engraver in Prescott.
Right man for the restoration!! Look forward to seeing it!
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Old 10-05-2016, 02:32 AM
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Here is an updated version of my post in cooperation with crazyphil, by link to the PDF that includes many pics, and extensive footnotes. Please check back there often as the article is still under edit and will change frequently until it goes to print; such as turnerriver pics if he approves the text, and for which he will be credited :-).

red nichols holsters

Enough from me for now.
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:09 PM
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In discovering that it may very well have been N.J. Rabensburg who created what we call a "Brill" today, that same article (based on a 1950s interview with Rabensburg [d. 1961], wherein it was Texas Ranger Hughes who worked with NJR and not Ranger Trimble who worked with AWB to create it), it's stated that Rabensburg's were only marked with the owner's initials on the cuff.

Maker Specific.......A.W. Brill-rabensburg-2-jpg

And lo and behold, in Jerry Burke's article "Leather Quick . . ." in the '97 Gun Digest, is what appears to be Trimble's holster (the initials on the cuff could be L.E.T. for Lee Elisha Trimble as stated in the article) -- which would make the holster, not a Brill, but a Rabensburg (again, because of the intials).

Would I love to find out where this holster is now! Burke himself has eluded me so far but I have a feeler out.
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:49 PM
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In discovering that it may very well have been N.J. Rabensburg who created what we call a "Brill" today, that same article (based on a 1950s interview with Rabensburg [d. 1961], wherein it was Texas Ranger Hughes who worked with NJR and not Ranger Trimble who worked with AWB to create it), it's stated that Rabensburg's were only marked with the owner's initials on the cuff.

Attachment 256005

And lo and behold, in Jerry Burke's article "Leather Quick . . ." in the '97 Gun Digest, is what appears to be Trimble's holster (the initials on the cuff could be L.E.T. for Lee Elisha Trimble as stated in the article) -- which would make the holster, not a Brill, but a Rabensburg (again, because of the intials).

Would I love to find out where this holster is now! Burke himself has eluded me so far but I have a feeler out.

Extremely cool!
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Old 11-06-2016, 10:57 PM
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Extremely cool!
Cool indeed! I'm a holster 'tragic' to borrow an expression from sports.

The (very) small pics in the revelatory article about Rabensburg,

http://test.mwca.org/test/wp-content...A_Bulletin.pdf
(starts on page 10)

are of two holsters made for its author in the 1950s (article late 2000s) and I had put them under a glass on my monitor, trying to make out what is on the cuffs. So I already knew the basic outline of the elongated oval with the three initials centred inside (I'm deducing those of the author and his brother, for whom Rabensburg made the pair of holsters). And so the large picture in the Gun Digest article hit me right between the eyes on a second review of it!

I've yet another feeler out to the author of this article, who is still alive and well
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Old 11-07-2016, 12:59 AM
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Maker Specific.......A.W. Brill-rabensburg-austin-1-jpg

From the 1930s.

Several different men were known to make what we have come to know as the Brill: both Brills, Rabensburg, Lutz, Rogers, Sessums, and Myres. All these makers have their own distinctive marks on the cuff of the holster, except Rabensburg who used only the owners' initials. And all were from a variety of Texas towns; so likely its only correct nomenclature is "Texas Ranger- style" holster, rather than, say Austin-style ("Ranger-style" holster was already used by Myres for other styles since at least the 1920s) in that, on the evidence, it was developed for the Texas Rangers and used mainly by them.
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Old 11-07-2016, 06:30 PM
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The "Brillness" on hand at present. It went from a single example to three here in 2016. Two of these were acquired in San Angelo, Texas from an exhibitor in the Silver Spur gun show circuit. The other two were Ebay acquisitions.



Smith & Wesson Military & Police 4-inch





Colt Government Model





Colt Single Action Army






Smith & Wesson 5-inch N-Frame





A question for Brill experts.

This Smith & Wesson 5-inch N-Frame holster was acquired because it was an example of a floral tooled Brill. It appears reinforced for an adjustable rear sight. Were Brill holsters reinforced for the rigors that an adjustable rear sight would subject them to? This holster might better match with a 5-inch .357 Magnum but the Model of 1926 .44 Special is the only 5-inch N-Frame Smith & Wesson on hand.

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Old 11-07-2016, 07:36 PM
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That's the only Brill I have seen with a hammer protector for a double
action revolver. Turnerriver shows one above for a single action. I have
a reproduction by Doc Barranti, shown above, for a double action. I wish
there was a way to date that holster. I have studied a lot trying to find
out who first put a hammer protector on a holster. So far my money is
on Wally Wolfram in the 1940s.
The Father, August Brill, started Brill in 1912. He did a lot of floral carving,
but don't think he put the Brill name on the front. The famous Butch
Cassidy holster has the name on the back for example.
The Son, Arnold aka "Arno" did put the name on the front, but
it seem that most of his were basket weave.
I suppose either one of them could have made your holster.
You have an interesting specimen there.
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Old 11-07-2016, 07:55 PM
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I would love to know more about Brill holsters and details about Brill history and Brill's work in particular. I'm no expert. I just like the design and craftsmanship of the Brill holsters. They work so well.

I'm not going to seriously tote pistolas in Brill holsters and subject the holsters to wear. I have carried a 4-inch K-Frame to church under a suit coat and also a Delta Elite into town, just to try them out. The holsters all seem to just "suck the side arms right down inside" so very securely, yet the draw is effortless, the holstered side arm easily accessible.

It's easy to get enthused about them. Seems that some Brill style or Austin style holsters found online mimic the appearance. Don't know if any here mimic the excellent fit.

Lets hear more from our own members who use modern homage holsters to Brills. I need a good "usin'" 3 1/2-inch N-Frame holster that exhibits the excellent fit and that adheres to the cant of this 4-inch K-Frame Brill I have here. Some of these modern holsters in this thread look great!

I liked the juxtaposition of the new with the old.

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Old 11-08-2016, 04:23 AM
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If you want to know more about Brill holsters I suggest you click on Red's
link provided in #38 above. He has done a ton of research and that sample
chapter has a lot of references to source materials.
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Old 11-08-2016, 04:06 PM
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Did see that Brill with the added hammer guard, when it was being auctioned. First thing I would do is remove it! Then you would have a complete, original, carved Brill.
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Old 11-08-2016, 04:48 PM
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Hey Red!

Was wondering about the hammer guard. The stitching didn't match the quality of the holster's stitching work. Still, a 5-inch N-Frame floral Brill can't come along every day. When you gotta 5-inch gun you just gotta have a vintage holster to fit it.

Do I get a mention for the photo diagram in your book?
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Old 11-08-2016, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
Hey Red!

Was wondering about the hammer guard. The stitching didn't match the quality of the holster's stitching work. Still, a 5-inch N-Frame floral Brill can't come along every day. When you gotta 5-inch gun you just gotta have a vintage holster to fit it.

Do I get a mention for the photo diagram in your book?
Tell me which pic and I'll do it!!

For the record, as many pics of holsters as possible are being replaced by turnerriver's new pics for it. That depends entirely on his good humour, and the size of his holster collection!

But I'm happy to use yours, and others', when you give me permission and a first/last name to 'photo credit' you :-)
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Old 11-08-2016, 08:05 PM
crazyphil crazyphil is offline
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Is the hammer protector an after add on? If so I too would wack it off.
Looks like it is quite badly cracked anyway.
If it was made with the holster though, leave it on. It is rare.
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