Martexin reproofing wax. Operating instructions on the can.
Archival Clothing endorses waxed cotton because it’s a rugged, natural, water resistant fabric that requires only wax reproofing to maintain its finish. Waxed cotton users should know how to reprooof their jackets, hats, and bags. Both Filson and Barbour offer factory reproofing services but we recommend performing the work yourself (at least once). Reproofing waxed cotton is relatively easy and personalizes the care and maintenance of your garment. Even if you live in the desert, you should establish a reproofing schedule for your waxed cotton. Reproofing extends the life of waxed cotton and prevents it from developing the folds and wear lines that often lead to holes.
I do my reproofing in August so I can move the work outdoors.
Basic tools: wax (warmed), water, sponge, blow dryer (or heat gun). If you’re using our 1.5 ounce tin, spoon some wax into a bowl and heat briefly in microwave. Some people recommend using Filson wax, say, with a Filson product, but I’ve switched between several brands of wax treatment (Filson, Barbour and Martinex) with the same results. I will concede that for a full reproofing job on a jacket, the larger tins of Barbour reproofing wax are easier to heat in a double boiler.
Dab off dirt with a moistened sponge. Do not use soaps or detergents.
Use clean sponge to spread warmed reproofing wax thinly on fabric. Short strokes work best.
Reheat surface of item with blow dryer to melt the wax into the fabric.
Reapply wax until it evenly coats the bag.
Restored to original factory finish
I still have wax left so I’m reproofing a couple of my Filson duckbill caps
You’ll be moving back and forth between wax applications and the blow dryer
Don’t expect the wax to glaze evenly over fabric. You’ll need to work it into the surface.
There! You’ve shopped from yourself. These rewaxed hats are better than new. Let the sun help w/the final reproofing. Use a blow dryer again if you find any remaining, unmelted spots of wax. If you’ve overdone it, fear not, daily use and rain will wear down the excess wax.
The Tyne and Wear Archives & Museum has just released a terrific set of mug shots from a 1930s. According to the TWAM site, the photos come from an identification book originally sourced from a junk shop. What I love about these photos are the split view poses struck by the disheveled yet handsomely dressed perps. Adding a touch of high art, several of the secondary views are out of focus or feel gratuitous – like school retake photos showing us the perp’s better half. Out of context, the mug shots read like casting photos for Fritz Lang’s M or the latest Engineered Garments lookbook.
Examine the cards closely and you’ll see evidence of a downbeat, Raymond Chandleresque portrait of crime and criminal behavior in the 30s (one that feels oblique and victimless). Targets include a depopulated sphere of clubs, warehouses, offices, and shops. My favorite M.O. (revealing a full character portrait in a few phrases) can be found on the final mug shot for William Jones (DEAD): “Shopbreaking. Uses various method of entry. Works alone. Plays violin outside public houses. Convicition in America for shooting a man.”
A duckbill cap was the first item I ever purchased from CC Filson. A decade ago, you could buy a Filson duckbill cap in tin cloth, shelter cloth, cotton poplin or wool. Filson even offered a short billed model (my personal favorite). The original duckbill version was fitted and came with a leather sweatband. Filson has dropped the wool and poplin models and switched over to a one size fits all model with a cotton sweatband.
I have a small collection of caps that I rotate through the seasons: poplin for summer, tin cloth for fall, wool for winter and shelter cloth cloth for spring. The duckbill cap makes for an ideal cycling cap. The long bill keeps the sun and rain out of your eyes and the low profile, four panel crowd closely hugs the head (making it possible to tuck the hat under a bike helmet).
I’m unclear on the origin of the duckbill style but there may be a military connection. A gent at the Pacific Aviation Museum in Honolulu once mistook mine for a WWII military reissue.
Unlike a baseball cap with a stiffened brim, the pliable, unstructured duckbill takes on an origami shape that makes it ideal for carrying in coat pocket or bag. Perfect for protection during a sudden squall.
Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. print catalog covers (1994, 1999)
Sometimes I get so fixated on the past that I forget to mail order from the present. A quick web check on one of my favorite contemporary brands, Cooperstown Ball Cap Co., produced this depressing news:
Regrettably, after twenty-three years of making fine historic replica ball caps, Cooperstown Ball Cap Company has discontinued operations. Commercial, financial and legal difficulties; and the complexity of sewing one-of-a-kind caps in the U.S, make this decision inevitable. We thank all our customers for whom, over the years, we have been pleased to make a true vintage ball cap.
For reference, Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. manufactured custom caps for historical teams and individuals. One could order a cap in any historical style or in any combination of styles, logos or colors. The illustrated Cooperstown catalogs featured examples of nearly every known historical baseball team including company teams, military teams and even a hat from the Eastern Washington Hospital for the Mentally Insane. All caps were handmade from 13 oz. athletic flannel, horsehide leather bands and highest grade peak stiffeners. Whenever possible, caps were sewn on original machines in Cooperstown, NY.
Historical styles that influenced the modern baseball cap
For reference, I’m reprinting a few pages from two of my 1990s era catalogs. At some point, the company moved to an online ordering format. But I always loved the colorful illustrations, hand scripted captions, arcane keycode system and personal notations of these early catalogs.
Until the 1940s, caps lacked stiffening crowns. Most of the cap styles in the Cooperstown catalog were designed to be worn close to the head (a look I prefer to the current trend towards fully stiffened, high crown caps).
Choose your Brooklyn style cap: standard, pinstripe, peak band, cap band, 3 color braid or soutache?
Small sampling of minor league caps
Shopping from A League of Their Own
Each year, Cooperstown reissued newly discovered styles from lesser known or non-professional teams. These were special edition options from 1994.
A few special edition and “fictional” team caps including one for the New York Knights
International models (I always wanted a Yomoyuri Giants cap)
Regretting that I never mailed out my order for one of the cricket caps (see 1999 cover)
New discoveries for 1999
Caps could be ordered in any combination of colors or historical styles
Custom sizing options (I always requested a shallow crown w/a short cut)
Of course we’re all about shopping from the past, but the magic happens when an opportunity comes around to shop successfully from the present. Somewhere in between Danny, Champion of the World, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Rules of the Game, I became entranced with the conflict of the gamekeeper and the poacher.
Ever since it came online, I’ve been totally stuck on Frank Leder’s POACHERS series. He’s really killing it with some of the details in this collection. Check out POACHERS at his splash page, but make sure to get into the archives, too. Hinterland: Fleisch and Hinterland: Vagabund are some of my favorites, but honestly, it’s all good.
There’s so much hunting clothing in the city that it’s refreshing to take inspiration from the poachers, who wear their city clothing in the country. When the apocalypse comes, we’ll no doubt have forgotten our Tin Cloth and Bean Boots at home. So join the Archival Clothing team on the south side of Eugene’s Spencer’s Butte: we’ll be the people bagging deer while clad in tattered tweeds and leaky brogues.
Last month, blog reader Shepard G., wrote me about his brand preference for Le Chameau, a French boot-maker and outdoor clothing company. Shep has been looking for a U.S. stockist for Le Chameau clothing. But like most Archival brands, Le Chameau is gradually disappearing from view. He writes:
I really like the Le Chameau clothing ‘look’, much more so than Barbour or even Filson. I found a UK site, Swillington Shooting & Stable Supplies, which carries the clothing, but most of the ‘good’ items appear to be sold out. I’d rather order from the US in order to get better prices and avoid horrendous shipping from the UK, but it doesn’t seem that there are any US clothing retailers selling LeC. I remember when I first became interested in the brand a few years ago, they were going to have a website based in Colorado to sell the clothing in the US, but I guess the horrible US-Euro exchange rate killed that. C’est dommage.
Like Shep, I’ve always admired the look of Le Chameau’s beautiful, leather linedChasseur field boots and Nairobi, 6″ ankle boots (discontinued). But other than the boots (and a snappy corduroy blazer I once saw at Upland Trading Co.), I’ve pretty much ignored Le Chameau’s clothing offerings because they employ so many technical fabrics like fleece, cordura and gore-tex.
Shep’s email, however, prompted me to review current clothing offerings by Le Chameau from UK stockists and Sierra Trading Post. I’ve posted a few images of some more traditional, country clothing type items (in tweeds and corduroys) I might actually regret not buying ten years from now:
Shep was kind enough to take a photo of his personal Le Chameau inventory for the blog. He notes:
The boots are the entry level All Tracks (bought for $80 a few years ago – I could never justify spending $400 for the Chasseurs). I got the boot bag from a local store specializing in upscale hunting/fishing gear that has since shut down. I keep the boots in my truck for emergencies and usually wear them once or twice a year deer hunting. Probably will wear the boots this weekend on a birdwatching excursion with a friend. The migration is in full swing here, and hope to see some geese. I bought the quilted equestrian jacket a few years ago from the Le Chameau website in Colorado (since shut down). Fun thing to wear around town and to Christmas parties. And the aforementioned scarf, which I wear frequently on cold days.
Shep’s personal Le Chameau inventory
Shep was also kind enough to forward along a few links to some to his favorite Eurpoean hunting and country clothing sites:
In my story world, the Tin Cloth Wildfowl hat has become oddly popular–even among folks who do not normally wear Filson (let alone–hunting garb, industrial workwear or heritage brands). I would never have selected this hat as a Filson gateway accessory. But for some reason, it has a kind of [X?] appeal that makes people want to own it even if they will never occupy a duck blind or fend off an Arctic chill. Why is that?
I spoke with a fellow in Portland who is working on a design to modify the Wildfowl hat into a cycling cap. His idea is to somehow trim back the lower half of the hat so it covers his ears and buckles under his chin. We never discussed how this would interface with a proper bicycle helmet. Perhaps the hat (tin cloth plus melton wool) is thick and durable enough to function as an old school leather skid lid.