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Old 05-16-2017, 02:36 AM
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Bangor-Punta acquired Smith & Wesson in 1965 and
started looking for ways to grow the business. They
acquired Wally Wolfram's holster business. Wolfram's last
catalog was 1967 (Thanks to Turnerriver). S&W's first
catalog was 1969, so sometime between those two dates
would have been when the Wolfram business transitioned
to S&W.

I remember reading somewhere that Wally worked for S&W
for a while, helping them get started. Red Nichols said in another
post that Al Kippen, formerly Bucheimer's man, handled the start up.
I suppose both could be correct.

Photo below left shows an early Wally Wolfram holster
that he made in Albuquerque, N.M. where he was a police
officer. He called the New Mexico holsters his "Wolf" brand.
He made this one for F. M. Pitt Co. It is holding my vintage
Charter Undercover (because none of my Smith snubs have
exposed hammers).

To it's right is Wally Wolfram's "Blazer" brand holster made
for a 2" J-Frame. It is holding my Taurus model 94, again
because my Smith J-Frames have no exposed hammer spurs.
It was made for George F. Cake Co. at Wally's shop in
Monrovia, CA. Wally had also been making holsters for Colt,
but of course that ended when he sold to S&W. I doubt Colt
would want S&W to make their holsters, nor would S&W want to.

The second photo from left shows an S&W holster that I
just acquired. It was made for the 2" J-Frame. It is holding
my vintage Charter Undercover, with Altamont stocks this time.

3rd, 4th, and 5th photos show the back side of those
three holsters in the same order. The S&W is almost identical
to the Blazer. I recall that S&W even called some of their
early holsters Blazers. It is interesting to see how Wally
changed the shape of the belt loop from the New Mexico
Wolf to the California Blazer.

John Bianchi was mentored by Wally Wolfram. John told
me that he, Wally, and Tex Shoemaker often worked together.
He credits Wally with many holster innovations, including the
hammer protector. On one of this forum's posts, Red Nichols
agreed that Wally originated the hammer protector. Holsters
in the old west and early 20th Century often had the leather
high enough to cover the hammer, but when I say hammer
protector I'm referring to the flap that looks like a "dog ear".
That's the name used by Texas Rangers.

I suppose Bangor-Punta wasn't enjoying the holster
business because in 1979 they made Bob Gould, head of
their holster division, an offer he couldn't refuse. So he,
and his partner, Goodrich, took over S&W's holster operation
in North Carolina. G&G is still very much alive and well.
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Old 05-16-2017, 10:04 AM
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Good post, Phil. I've been interested in Wolfram's holsters for quite a while. One minor point- S&W might well have co-opted the name but their Blazer line consisted of " Wessonhide" holsters made of some unnatural material, they were in my opinion really ugly clunky holsters.
These two Colt Woodsman holsters are pretty much identical other than the logo.
Regards,
turnerriver

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Old 05-16-2017, 10:29 AM
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Turnerriver's phrase "ugly clunky holsters" describes most of the S&W line, in my opinion.
The US Air Force issued a military contract border patrol style holster made by S&W. The metal shank which formed the belt loop portion had the metal on the outside of the loop, with the leather-only portion behind the belt, the opposite of nearly every other manufacturer of this type rig. It caused problems with twisting, the belt loops getting bent out of shape and failing, and some outlandish bending of the loop causing the gun to project way out from the hip by cops who thought it looked cool.
In 1974 while on active duty I attended the S&W Academy's Firearms and Non-Lethal weapons course. While on the range one day the "holster guy" (I don't recall his name) from the factory visited. When I complained about the design deficiencies of the S&W holster issued by the USAF, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "We designed a better one, but the Air Force didn't want it."
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turnerriver View Post
Good post, Phil. I've been interested in Wolfram's holsters for quite a while. One minor point- S&W might well have co-opted the name but their Blazer line consisted of " Wessonhide" holsters made of some unnatural material, they were in my opinion really ugly clunky holsters.
These two Colt Woodsman holsters are pretty much identical other than the logo.
Regards,
turnerriver

I remember wesson hide or wessonhide but was not able to
find much about it. I don't think it went over well.

There is an S&W 1978 catalog and fit chart here on the forum,
posted by ko41 8/29/09. It shows several Blazer models all
made of leather.

There is also a S&W 1982 catalog/Bangor-Punta archives
on the net that shows some leather Blazers.

Calling the wessonhide holsters Blazers was probably an
attempt to capitalize on their popularity.

If anyone has some wessonhide or wesson hide how about
showing it here?
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:59 PM
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Info on Wessonhide: Wessonhide Synthetic Leather Accessories | Bangor Punta Archives
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Old 05-16-2017, 04:01 PM
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I own several "WessonHide" belts and holsters. Mostly N frame holsters and 44 belt loop belts. Sorry, no pictures as my computer is on its last legs.

My reason for my original purchase of these units (new mid-80s), in addition to the low price point, was the fact that they were impervious to water and dirt. If you got them wet, or dirty, you just wiped down you pistol and wiped the holster and you were good to go. They also didn't stretch out and lose their shape. Not the prettiest holsters but functional. In the field style holsters there was/is not much difference in design just a different material.

Turner slings uses a product, now, to make rifle slings, called, I think, Biothane. I am sure it is a different chemical compound but the principle is the same. Less stretch and longer life while resistant to water and chemicals.
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Old 05-16-2017, 05:13 PM
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Wallace Wright Wolfram lived 1908-1988, born in MA and died in NM. His residency was entirely in MA until WWII. That suggests that his holster career in CA and NM was entirely post war. And THAT suggests that the hammer guard was first seen on Myres holsters that bear the 'TEX' marking. Wally was a Monrovia police officer in the early Fifties and by the Sixties has founded Wolfram Leather Co. with someone who appears to be his second wife. Another reference indicates that Neale Perkins and Safariland acquired Wolfram Leather first; before it was acquired by Smith & Wesson (remember that Safariland was created in 1965 out of the remains of Safari Ltd.) around 1969.
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Old 05-16-2017, 05:49 PM
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There is an article in the Albuquerque, N.M. Journal Feb. 11, 1946
that mentions Wallace W. Wolfram and another officer of the City
Police Department investigating something. I didn't join their club,
so didn't read the article, but I think that puts Wally in Albuquerque
in 1946 or probably sooner.

P. S. If Wally was in the Army Air Corps in WWII it may be that he was
stationed in N.M. There were many Army Air Corps bases in New Mexico,
including Kirtland Field (Now Kirtland AFB) in Albuquerque.

I know quite a lot of Air Force people stationed at Mountain Home AFB
here in Idaho elect to stay here after discharge.
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Old 05-16-2017, 06:15 PM
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Here's my one and only S&W holster, utilitarian, but not very elegant. I probably would never have picked it out on my own, but it came (as some of you may remember) in a deal for another 28, a 28-2. Shown here with a 28 no dash, from 1960:





As Phil would say: "Not much for looks, but 'Hell for Strong!'"!!!
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Old 05-17-2017, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
There is an article in the Albuquerque, N.M. Journal Feb. 11, 1946
that mentions Wallace W. Wolfram and another officer of the City
Police Department investigating something. I didn't join their club,
so didn't read the article, but I think that puts Wally in Albuquerque
in 1946 or probably sooner.

P. S. If Wally was in the Army Air Corps in WWII it may be that he was
stationed in N.M. There were many Army Air Corps bases in New Mexico,
including Kirtland Field (Now Kirtland AFB) in Albuquerque.

I know quite a lot of Air Force people stationed at Mountain Home AFB
here in Idaho elect to stay here after discharge.
I do belong to one of those 'clubs' -- newspapers.com -- but what it has collected from the Albuquerque Weekly Journal is very small, and NO newspaper on the site turns up any mention of Wallace Wolfram.

It was not my intention to say that I had all the info; which is why I said "nothing in the record". There is anecdotal evidence about this and that and another lesser-known maker (like Wally, or Tex) but almost nothing is 'in the record'. Even a well-known maker like Baker still has almost nothing 'in the record'; though in his case I was fortunate enough to finally locate enough to know when he lived and died, and where!

By the time I joined the company even John Bianchi had almost nothing to say about Wally. Wally's name came up perhaps once, whilst his company was being absorbed by S&W; then never again. My goal is to gather this info up and set it out for posterity, so we're not guessing all the time. Hopefully next time Phil you'll pay the money and clip the article :-), 'cause I didn't find it.

Not unlike the Threepersons name; we simply never used it to describe a holster of that type. Then I find out recently, that Lorene's great grandson lived and died in 'our' hometown, Fallbrook, CA!
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Old 05-17-2017, 01:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rednichols View Post
I do belong to one of those 'clubs' -- newspapers.com -- but what it has collected from the Albuquerque Weekly Journal is very small, and NO newspaper on the site turns up any mention of Wallace Wolfram.

It was not my intention to say that I had all the info; which is why I said "nothing in the record". There is anecdotal evidence about this and that and another lesser-known maker (like Wally, or Tex) but almost nothing is 'in the record'. Even a well-known maker like Baker still has almost nothing 'in the record'; though in his case I was fortunate enough to finally locate enough to know when he lived and died, and where!

By the time I joined the company even John Bianchi had almost nothing to say about Wally. Wally's name came up perhaps once, whilst his company was being absorbed by S&W; then never again. My goal is to gather this info up and set it out for posterity, so we're not guessing all the time. Hopefully next time Phil you'll pay the money and clip the article :-), 'cause I didn't find it.

Not unlike the Threepersons name; we simply never used it to describe a holster of that type. Then I find out recently, that Lorene's great grandson lived and died in 'our' hometown, Fallbrook, CA!
Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 11, 1946
https/www.newspapers.com/newspage/1565814811
Pat Baca and Wallace W. Wolfram of the city police department
investigated...
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Old 05-17-2017, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 11, 1946
https/www.newspapers.com/newspage/1565814811
Pat Baca and Wallace W. Wolfram of the city police department
investigated...
Thanks so much Phil! The actual link looks like this:

11 Feb 1946, Page 1 - Albuquerque Journal at Newspapers.com

You left out the ":" and added an extra "1" at the end :-).
But we got there!

Here's the clipping:

WOLFRAM TO S&W HOLSTERS-albuquerque_journal_mon__feb_11__1946_-jpg
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Old 05-17-2017, 07:09 PM
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Thanks Red. I was going to try and find his service records, but a couple
of problems. There were millions and millions of GIs in WWII.
Many of the Army Air Corps and Air Force records burned up in a fire.
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Old 05-17-2017, 08:24 PM
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Phil and Red, according to Ancestry.com, Wallace W Wolfram was born around 1909, and in the 1930 census, he was living in Deerfield, Massachusetts and was 21 years old and listed Truck Driver as his profession. Later records show him in Albuquerque in 1949, and then in the 1950s, in California. Does this sound like the right guy?

Here is a shot of a page from the 1959 Monrovia, California, City Directory. Sounds like your guy:



Has a listing for both the Leather Company and his home address.

Edit: Also found a record of a Wallace Wolfram, born 15 December 1908, died 18 June 1988, was in the Army from 7 January 1943 to 16 November 1945.

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Old 05-17-2017, 09:13 PM
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That's our guy Les. We have him in New Mexico now in 1946 and 1949.
I have a suspicion that he may have been in New Mexico in the war years
and decided to stay. Just a hunch. Maybe I'll find some evidence.
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Old 05-17-2017, 09:31 PM
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Phil and Red:

A couple of more items, his SSN was 016-05-9982, and it seems that he was back in New Mexico when he passed away. His last address 1988, is listed as: 1901 N Mesa Ave, Roswell, NM, 88201-7624 (Chaves County).

In the 1952 Albuquerque, New Mexico City Directory he was listed as doing leather work, along with his address:



Still from the 1952 Albuquerque City Directory, a separate listing for his business:



But by 1953, he is listed in the Monrovia, California City Directory as being on the police force:



In 1955, still in the Monrovia CA City Directory as a police officer:



But, in the 1958 Monrovia City Directory, he has his business and home addresses, but no mention of the police job:



Best Regards, Les
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Old 05-17-2017, 11:01 PM
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With Phil's pointer to just the right editions on newspapers.com I was able to locate more articles there about Wally, including that he ran for something in Alb. called a "police judge"* in 1951 (no indication he was successful) and his military service at Kirtland Field in Alb. and in the Pacific.

Most importantly, though, I believe we then have settled that his holster-making career began when he left the military beginning in 1946 when he became first a police officer, then a deputy sheriff in Alb.

That would suggest, then, because the earliest appearance I have for the hammer guard by Myres was their 1940 catalogue -- that Wally was not its inventor/creator.

* "A job as a Police Judge falls under the broader career category of Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates"
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Old 05-18-2017, 03:47 AM
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Perhaps like Don Hume, he took up leather work as a hobby while in the
service.
Do you have a photo of that Myres from 1940 catalog?

I went back and found John's (turnerrivers) 11-21-2010 post showing
his 1952 K-38 with a beautiful Myres hand carved Barton's Special
(with hammer protector) from Myres 1941 catalog. Is that the one
you refer to?

I have been hanging my hat on the comment made to me by
John (Bianchi) that Wally probably made the first hammer
protector aka "dog ear" flap. But he did qualify his statement
by going on to say it was the first "commercial success".

It appears now, as if the Barton Special might be first?
Now I need to know who was Barton?

Thanks, Phil
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Old 05-18-2017, 01:15 PM
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I asked our friend John Bianchi if Wally ever told him anything about
his years in the service. Apparantly he didn't, and John thinks he came
from Albuquerque where his business was called Albuquerque Leather.
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Old 05-18-2017, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
I asked our friend John Bianchi if Wally ever told him anything about
his years in the service. Apparantly he didn't, and John thinks he came
from Albuquerque where his business was called Albuquerque Leather.
Here's the 411 on your two posts with queries:

(By the way, I only developed all this info on Wally while establishing the birth/death dates of various of the lesser known makers; I wasn't after any real detail because they won't feature much in The Book).

For example, I didn't even know if Wally was short for Wallace as it turned out to be; given that someone like Andy Anderson turned out to be Warren, Jack Martin turned out to be Julius, and Tex Shoemaker turned out to be Loren. Much harder to find these chaps than one might expect when they use nicknames (as I do, Red for Richard).

Anyway: Wally was 'from' MA and appears to have been furloughed from the Army into Albuquerque NM in 1946, where a tax notice in a 1954 newspaper shows he operated a company he called Wolfram Leather Works on Fourth St. NW. In between, a 1948 article shows him still a deputy in Alb, while a 1951 article shows him a leatherworker and former deputy, and les.b's post as a leather goods man in 1952 in Alb. By '53 he appears as a Monrovia officer (and Sarah as working for a potter) (also cited by les.b). Les.b tells us '55 still an officer and '58 Wolfram Leather Co. (so, incorporated within the next ten years, which is usually done to protect the owners from civil liability). FYI, 1958 is the year that John Bianchi was furloughed from the Army and joined Monrovia PD; explaining the linkup between him and Wally. John visited ALL the available holster makers in L.A., including Alfonso whose son Omar tells me that Alfonso said if he'd known John was scouting knowledge for a holster company startup he wouldn't have been so forthcoming :-).

By '69 he appears in the Monrovia directory as Wolfram Leather Co. Inc with Sarah. Given the date of sale to S&W being considered to be 1969 (though John Bianchi was still talking about it to me in 1970), clearly that's the company that was sold first to Safariland (Perkins) and then acquired by S&W.

Because Wally died in NM, I therefore assume that he retired there on monies made from the sale and remained there until his death there in 2008.

Here's one of the Myres pics, in this case from a '44 catalogue; turnerriver will have to tell us again who Barton was (I recall he's posted on this before):

WOLFRAM TO S&W HOLSTERS-1944-myres-3-jpg
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Old 05-18-2017, 07:27 PM
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It's a shame that it is so difficult to find information on these great old
holster makers. And it hasn't been all that many years. Red, the
research and documentation you have been doing, and are doing, will
be valuable for generations to come. Meanwhile I hope, and I think
you are, enjoying it.

A Barton was a child star back in the 1920s and/or 1930s. Toy guns
and holsters marketed in his name. Could that be the Barton? I will
anxiously await turnerriver's input.
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Old 05-18-2017, 08:07 PM
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How about the small flap as a rear sight protector - not the hammer dog ear: is that still credited to Wally?
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Old 05-19-2017, 06:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SG-688 View Post
How about the small flap as a rear sight protector - not the hammer dog ear: is that still credited to Wally?
Indeed I have proposed that this little tab was first used by Wally; i.e., I've not seen it on any other holster makers' work until his Blazer and Colt holsters appeared with it at least by 1960. And then it became standard on revolver holsters thereafter.

I expect, given the era, that it was a byproduct of the earliest hammer guard, used by Myres and then by Gaylord and then Bianchi; which was a vertical tab in the same spot, that extended upwards and surrounded the hammer. But that would have only suited fixed sights. So with the growing interest in adjustable sights fostered by Keith, I suppose; the hammer guard had to be trimmed until the sight would fit and be protected. Voila, the rear sight tab.
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Old 05-19-2017, 11:00 AM
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I don't know who Barton was or why he or she was special but I sure wish I did. I have a 1934 dated catalog that doesn't have the Barton's Special holster in it, my next closest catalog is from 1940 and it does show the Barton holster as well as the Threepersons holster with an "extended hammer cover".
Here's page number thirteen from the 1940 catalog.
There was at least one Texas Ranger named Barton and an Arizona saloon owner and gunfighter named Barton but I've never been able to come up with the Barton associated with the holster.
The first catalog showing the dog ear style is an early post WW II catalog, undated but I believe from the late 1940's. Both styles of hammer protector are shown in this catalog.The next dated catalog that I have is from August 1950.
Regards,
turnerriver


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Old 05-19-2017, 01:34 PM
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Thanks for that John. If the "dog ear" by Myres catalog photo is from the
late 1940s, I think I'm back with Wally as the likely originator.
The extended hammer cover is not much of a change from the older Mexican
Loop holster that swallowed all of the gun except the stocks.

Buzz Barton was a circus performer (shooter) and a movie star.
He apparently endorsed a Daisy BB gun called a Barton Special.
I saw an ad for a Buzz Barton water pistol and genuine leather
holster rig (for fifty cents) "Wear this six-shooter & holster cowboys
like Buzz Barton wear" Could this be the origination of the Barton
Special?

If Mike Barranti is reading this thread perhaps he can enlighten us.
I think he makes a Barton Special.
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Old 05-19-2017, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
Thanks for that John. If the "dog ear" by Myres catalog photo is from the
late 1940s, I think I'm back with Wally as the likely originator.
The extended hammer cover is not much of a change from the older Mexican
Loop holster that swallowed all of the gun except the stocks.

Buzz Barton was a circus performer (shooter) and a movie star.
He apparently endorsed a Daisy BB gun called a Barton Special.
I saw an ad for a Buzz Barton water pistol and genuine leather
holster rig (for fifty cents) "Wear this six-shooter & holster cowboys
like Buzz Barton wear" Could this be the origination of the Barton
Special?

If Mike Barranti is reading this thread perhaps he can enlighten us.
I think he makes a Barton Special.
As mentioned, the image I used earlier is from Myres' 1944 catalogue; as w/b turnerriver's image. Back to it being Myres and not Wolfram -- unless Wally was not only making holsters while at sea (the article lists 18 months' duty in the Pacific) (the Army Air Corp WAS the Air Force in WWII and so at sea on aircraft carriers, for example) but sending samples to Sam Myres to copy in time for his 1944 catalogue :-).
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Old 05-19-2017, 07:23 PM
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John, are those 4 holsters on your #24 post (Page 17) also from 1940
catalog or the one you say is undated? #624 $4.24, #650 $2.75,
#645 $3.25, and #640 $3.75.
They appear to be the exact same 4 as Red shows in post #20 from
his 1944 catalog. #624 $7.00, #650 $5.00, #645 $6.00, and #640
the price was cut off. The price increase over the 4 years would seem
about right with wartime inflation and all.

Red, the Army Air Corps became an independent branch, the U. S.
Air Force in 1947. The Navy had their own air force that flew the
planes off the carriers except for the Jimmy Doolittle raid. Those
were Army Air Corps crews. So, it's doubtful Wally would have
served on a ship. More likely at a Army Air Corps field on some
island, or islands, in the Pacific.
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Old 05-20-2017, 08:18 AM
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We know Mr. Myres liked to use celebrity endorsements such as Askins,
Jordan, Threepersons, etc.
Buzz Barton 1913-1980 was in many movies from the 1920s up through
the 1940s. He endorsed Daisy Model 195 as Buzz Barton Special.
The name doesn't mean a lot today, but back then it may have been
a well known name among those who carried guns.
Another mystery to worry about.
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