Last week sometime, I was surprised to find an email in my inbox from a fellow I've never met. Jim and I are members of the same forum and he goes by the screen name Old Grafton (an alias that I think is very cool, in a poetic fashion.) He told me that he had come upon some vintage leather from the '60s and thought that I might be interested in it.
Vintage leather appeals to me and when he told me that it was from the old Lawrence company, I was intrigued. I thanked him kindly and asked him to send it on. I talked with my leather-working son, who told me that when it came in, to treat it carefully. That old leather might need preservative techniques so that it wouldn't crack or split, and that if I had any questions, to get with him before I did anything. That's good advise.
Lawrence Gunleather used to be a huge name in the gun-leather industry. They made saddles and leather goods of all kinds. A complete history is here. They made very good leather products, and when I was growing up in the '60s and '70s I saw lots of ads for Lawrence leather products in the various hunting and fishing magazines I read. To say the least, I watched for that package with great anticipation.
It came in on Friday, packed in a Boyd's gunstock box. Milady asked if I had ordered a stock and I told her "No, but someone sent me a gift." Like an archaeologist opening a tomb, I gently opened the box wondering what I'd find.
Great Jumping Jehosephat! This leather is in great shape. Supple, well preserved, it looks almost as good as it did when it came out of the box a half-century ago. Let's take a look, shall we?
Next, we have a box from the period.
Cool graphics, and reminiscent of the boxes I remember from my youth as I'd drool over those magazine ads. Of course, you can click on the picture for a better look. I think that the box is cooler than hell. But wait, there's something inside.
Then I found a gunbelt at the bottom of the box. Stilll supple, it feels like it was oiled regularly. It's tooled with cartridge loops, and just beautiful.
The stamp on the inside of the belt says that it's their Sportsman model and that it's cut for a 40" waist. The cartridge loops are adjustable and it is 1-3/4 inches wide. I may set it up for .45 Colt cartridges and see if I "lock" the adjustment in place. Either way, it will go in my spares bag as a trying belt for new shooters, grandkids, or other folks who need to borrow a belt. My tape measure tells me that it will fit from a 38" to a 42" waist, but the way we wear our belts in the cowboy game, it will likely be a good fit for someone with a 36" to a 40" waist size. It's a size that I don't have in the bag right now, and it's a really beautiful belt.
Thanks, Jim, for thinking of me. We'll use them for sure.