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Old 10-13-2018, 11:06 PM
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Default Unexpected finds

Last thing I was expecting to buy at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot today was two revolver holsters. Found a brand new Milt Sparks for a 4" N Frame and a decent Berns-Martin for a 4" K Frame. Walked out with both for $30.00
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Old 10-14-2018, 01:36 AM
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That was a pretty good day at the range. The Sparks is a Hackathorn
Special and the B-M is their Universal Speed Scabbard. Both very
popular models. You did very well. Pennys on the dollar.
By the way, DK is the initials of the maker at Sparks.
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Old 10-14-2018, 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
That was a pretty good day at the range. The Sparks is a Hackathorn
Special and the B-M is their Universal Speed Scabbard. Both very
popular models. You did very well. Pennys on the dollar.
By the way, DK is the initials of the maker at Sparks.
Didn't we work through this once before? It was called the Speed holster from the beginning in Calhoun City, and not called the Universal Speed holster until a single brochure from Elberton under the new owner(s). Even then it was still just called the Speed holster in its brochures.

Unexpected finds-1966-elberton-7-jpg

Unexpected finds-1940-ish-calhoun-city-7-jpg

Scabbards were, and are, different things from the B-M. Notably, an article about Brill in '24 called his holsters 'scabbards' as we would also call a Threepersons.

By the way, turnerriver and I have been exchanging info about Berns-Martin again, after turning up an article about J.H. Martin still making them in Calhoun City in May of '63 when it was supposed to be in Elberton by then (there being a Feb '63 Elberton price list). 'A pozzlement' to quote the King (and I).
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Old 10-14-2018, 05:10 AM
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New owners did advertise it as UNIVERSAL SPEED HOLSTER.
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
That was a pretty good day at the range. The Sparks is a Hackathorn
Special and the B-M is their Universal Speed Scabbard. Both very
popular models. You did very well. Pennys on the dollar.
By the way, DK is the initials of the maker at Sparks.
Funny thing is, I had been thinking of ordering a 4" N Frame holster from Sparks. I've ordered several 1911 holsters from them over the years. I saw this one laying on a table with about a dozen other old low dollar holsters. At first glance I thought the tag said $200 but then I realized there was only one zero!! What really amazed me is that the show had been going for a day and a half already and this holster is literally brand new. Couldn't believe it hadn't been snapped up before then. The B-M I found about 30 minutes later in a pile with a bunch of ratty old police and military holsters. It had a piece of old tape on the back with $10.00 written on it.

BTW, any idea of the vintage of the B-M holster?
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Old 10-14-2018, 09:26 AM
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I can't tell you the year your B-M was born, but Red was correct about
the earlier ones by Berns-Martin being made in Calhoun City, so yours
is earlier. The holsters made in Elberton were after the company
had changed hands.
That Sparks Hackathorn is shown on Milt Sparks Holsters web site.
If you were thinking of buying one, you really saved a bunch of do re me.
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Old 10-14-2018, 05:01 PM
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BTW, any idea of the vintage of the B-M holster?
Turnerriver and I have thoroughly examined thousands of pieces of evidence about the holster makers of the 20th century, especially Berns-Martin. That company has been an object of our affections since we were kids (so, a long time ago). The tale is thoroughly set out in The Book, but here is the short answer.

The patent was filed in '32 and issued in '35. This matters because there are only two Speed holsters (not 'scabbards', Phil) that were made in that time before the patent was issued; both belonged to the project's benefactor, Elmer Keith and now in a private collection. They appear in The Book courtesy the owner.

So: hand marked with two patent numbers, we know were produced after 1935. There is no location marked on such Speed holsters but we absolutely know that Jack Martin had returned to his home in Calhoun City after leaving the Navy just before WWII started up in Europe.

Then, it seems, they weren't made at all during WWII. For that we rely on a letter from Martin to Keith, saying he has re-opened in Calhoun City in 1950 after being on hiatus. It is at that time that we believe that the oval Calhoun City mark that is on your holster, appeared. Not least because there are no patent numbers any longer -- and both had expired by 1950-ish so Martin couldn't pay royalties to the owners (did you know that it's actually ILLEGAL to collect royalties after a patent expires?).

That mark continued until a significant resident of Elberton GA bought the company from Jack Martin and another chap, and moved it there in '63. Thinking is that the Dr. No film made the name Berns-Martin into a household name in late '62; although that is not precisely how the new owner told the tale when turnerriver met him circa 2000.

The Elberton marked holsters were made a husband-wife team who worked for Coggins, the new owner; name of McNeely. They were in their mid-20s in the early 1960s! Didn't last long, the mark was handed off with barely a mutter until it ended up in John Bianchi's hands in 1974, the year that Berns himself died (Martin in '68). JB told me that there was nothing left but unfilled orders and two trademarks.

The hand-marked, and the Calhoun City marked holsters, are immaculately made and virtually all that sewing was by hand. The Elberton holster are not nearly so well made and the leather used is not of the same, handsome harness leather used by Martin. It's also the era that a variety of non-catalogued versions appeared. Even the shape of the Speed Holster was altered near the trigger guard.

Well, 'brief' by comparison with an entire chapter of The Book :-)
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Old 10-14-2018, 06:46 PM
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So mine, with the patent numbers but no location, would have been
made sometime between 1935 and 1950? Did I understand you
correctly? I'll just assume it was 1935 because that was my birth
year.
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:58 PM
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So mine, with the patent numbers but no location, would have been
made sometime between 1935 and 1950? Did I understand you
correctly? I'll just assume it was 1935 because that was my birth
year.
Unexpected finds-marks-1-jpg believed to be 1935 to 1939

Unexpected finds-1-marks-2-jpg believed to be 1950 to 1963

Unexpected finds-1-marks-3-jpg believed to be 1963 to 1974

Unexpected finds-1-marks-1-jpg believed to coincide with Elberton

That leaves the years of WWII, for which it has been deduced that the operation was closed not least because of the royalty payments to Clark and to Berns (Martin operated the company with another chap, and Coggins operated it with yet another chap and his wife). We don't KNOW that it was closed during that period; it is a deduction based on a several pieces of information. We are always looking for more info -- significant new bits about both B-M and about Brill have turned up in just the last week -- and will doubtless work that out for sure, one way or another, at some point.
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