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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I recently refurbished this Heiser shoulder holster, which seems to like 4" barrel autos best, and likely the short Colt revolvers (I have the former but none of the latter). Its maker's mark indicates it's about 100 years old so even the P35 that fits it so nicely wasn't around at the time it was made/sold originally.

Which begs the question, since pics of Heiser's do end up on the forum: where do holster collectors show off their wares besides the 'net?

Personally as a designer/maker, I only "collect" holsters for illustration purposes, such as books and magazine articles. But surely "normal" people go to exhibitions, etc., with their collections?

Heisers have no match for carving, not even Myers, El Paso or Colorado Saddlery. They used the California poppy style, with open backgrounds and deep pear shading to give depth to their work; and the result appears to vary little from example to example of a single model. The design and method are both consistent throughout their range from an old example such as this one, to the most modern examples circa 1950 at which point the company changed hands several times and the Heiser company vanished as we knew it.

Red Font Visual arts Cross Religious item
 

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We have a holster shaman on this forum so you came to the right place. He's my holster guru and I think he'll have some answers for you. Especially if you mention any numbers stamped on the back of the holster. I was wondering. When you hold the back of the holster up in the light at an angle can you see any writing in the leather? Anyway, check in here and "he" will probably show up in the near future. That is a great shoulder holster, btw.
 

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I don't know what you did to your shoulder holster but it's outstanding. I admire anyone who can work leather(like Wyatt), especially fine vintage leather.
The Heiser model 125 shoulder holster first appeared in the number 20 catalog in the mid 1920's. Their catalog number 19 did not have this model.
The carved version is a model 225. Your fine example looks like it was made for an automatic. As Wyatt said, there may well be some maker etched or inked numbers and letters on the holster indicating what pistol it was made for such as CA for Colt Auto.
I don't get to display any part of my collection very frequently. I've displayed several times at the annual Smith & Wesson Collectors Association meeting, most recently at June's meeting in Kansas City. I can probably be drummed out of this forum for this but here's a photo.
Thank you for sharing your Heiser with us.



regards,
turnerriver
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't know what you did to your shoulder holster but it's outstanding. I admire anyone who can work leather(like Wyatt), especially fine vintage leather.
The Heiser model 125 shoulder holster first appeared in the number 20 catalog in the mid 1920's. Their catalog number 19 did not have this model.
The carved version is a model 225. Your fine example looks like it was made for an automatic. As Wyatt said, there may well be some maker etched or inked numbers and letters on the holster indicating what pistol it was made for such as CA for Colt Auto.
I don't get to display any part of my collection very frequently. I've displayed several times at the annual Smith & Wesson Collectors Association meeting, most recently at June's meeting in Kansas City. I can probably be drummed out of this forum for this but here's a photo.
Thank you for sharing your Heiser with us.



regards,
turnerriver
Good start, with a Lewis shoulder holster at left in your pic and a Berns-Martin belt holster at right :)

Heiser's catalogues appear to have begun at exactly 50 years after founding, or a few years after Herman's death. That makes catalogue 20 one issued in 1928 earliest. So it's interesting that a first appearance by this shoulder holster in that year's catalogue, would be inconsistent with a reference that states the Heiser marking on the back of this particular holster ceased in 1925, and was in use as early as 1910 (which is where I got my "100 years old" comment).

Becoming good at working with leather is easy; just design and build new holster models every day for 50 years, and you'll be all caught up :) Some of your work might even end up in museums (some of mine are in the Autry museum). I'm very old in holster years :)
 

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Guys:

Turnerriver did not mention it but the theme of the S&WCA Annual Meeting this year was "Law Enforcement Smith & Wessons". Thus, the fabulous display pictured was limited to examples of law enforcement vintage gun leather for S&Ws. The picture does not do justice to the many beautiful holsters displayed there.

Regards,
Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I do have a knack for restoring the oldies; this one is a Seventrees Model SCP from the 60s, before and after. It carries at a remarkable 54 degrees off vertical (my software measures this quite precisely). It's quite dainty, emphasising the extent to which the Chiefs Special is/was a littlie, too. The pull-through snap release, pioneered we believe by Gaylord, utilises a "baby" durable vs. the full size durable that we associate with "real" holsters; likely to minimise scratching of the revolver, which is likely why pull-throughs are rarely made these days. I'd say cowhide; it's quite soft vs. the horsehide Seventrees holsters I have. The green round the snap and rivet is called 'verdigris'; more important is to know that it's caused ONLY by brass on leather; normally on oiled leather and to a far lesser extent on dyed leather; but does not occur when other metals, such as steel or stainless or aluminium fasteners are used.

Brown Leather Handgun holster
 

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Great restoration job, Red! It looks like new (or better). I wonder if these were intended for small-of-back carry-- the extreme angle is similar to the much more recent Galco sob holster.
I've seen snap arrangements like that before, but thought it was just sort of a reversed thumbbreak. Pull-through, eh? I've seen some photos of pull through snaps (Alessi holsters?) but they seemed to be configured differently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Great restoration job, Red! It looks like new (or better). I wonder if these were intended for small-of-back carry-- the extreme angle is similar to the much more recent Galco sob holster.
I've seen snap arrangements like that before, but thought it was just sort of a reversed thumbbreak. Pull-through, eh? I've seen some photos of pull through snaps (Alessi holsters?) but they seemed to be configured differently.
The angle indeed suggests SOB, but nothing in the copy accompanying the holster in Theodore's catalogue suggests anything but ordinary positioning for the SCP:

Text Font Line
John Bianchi's version illustrates the pull-through better, though Chic Gaylord's use of pull-throughs predates even John's:

Fish

The reverse pattern of the basketweave tells me this particular holster was made by Richard Gerfen, John's 2IC (second in charge), who told me he assumed he should do the stamping opposite to John because John is left-handed! In fact the "correct" way is not this way. Also note that the snap has been attached with hand tools, distorting the cap (and likely the rest of the snap parts, too).

The big problem with pull-throughs is that the snaps scratch the hell out of the revolver as it passes by them, something that few pistoleros are willing to endure!

SOBs are older than one might realise; here's a toy version from the 50s TV series "Tightrope":

Leather Fashion accessory Bag Wallet
 

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My gosh Red. You did an amazing job of restoring that holster. I too like to find old holsters and bring them back to life but I sure don't have your skills. Could you share some tips on your process. I'm in awe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My gosh Red. You did an amazing job of restoring that holster. I too like to find old holsters and bring them back to life but I sure don't have your skills. Could you share some tips on your process. I'm in awe.
It's very, very easy when you know how.

1. buy a holster without dry rot. Dry rot is exhibited when the leather surface has begun to powder away; there's no saving these.
2. Most holsters will respond to being cleaned inside and out with a sponge sudsed up with saddle soap; then only dry it off with a towel (don't wet it again).
3. Dry it in some form of direct heat; warm sunshine (you might have to move to Queensland :) ) on a black surface is good, or a fan-force oven at 150 deg F with the door OPEN, or even the outlet to your home's gas dryer. Get this wrong and your holster will shrivel like a prune.
4. Using a real sheepskin applicator, apply Fiebing's products such as Harness Dressing (I can't get it here) or Tan-Kote, which is what I use (don't use Bag-Kote) and rub it in; use another bit of clean sheepskin and buff the dressed leather while it's still damp, until the sheepskin tells you you're buffing a dry surface again.
5. For best results, repeat step 4.
6. If you like a gloss (I do), for a tan holster use a clear leather spray that you can buy from a shoe repair; for black, buy the black version, which will colour over any faded bits caused by time, wear, or your cleaning (above).
7. If after a gloss, you think it's all a bit much, just repeat step 4 to tone down the gloss.

See, easy :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It occurred to me, leafing through my Heiser #51 catalogue (circa 1954 or so) that I had three of the shoulder holsters pictured, so I prepared a shadow box display for them using an enlargement of the page itself:

Footwear Fashion accessory Shoe

Clearly the catalogue pics are not to scale!
 
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