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Do You Know This Coat??


New in Town
I apologize for the long post—but context might be important. Can anyone comment on the coat in the attached photos? If so, PLEASE help the Barnes Area Historical Association with your knowledge. These are the only two known photos of “The Old Brown Mackinaw”—a famous coat in the world of Gordon MacQuarrie enthusiasts! If you can tell us anything about the coat, please help!

The coat in the photos is known as “The Old Brown Mackinaw”, and was featured in numerous stories written by Gordon MacQuarrie, an outdoor writer. MacQuarrie was born in Superior, Wisconsin, in 1900; he became nationally known through his many stories published in national outdoor magazines from 1931 until his death in 1956. Several books of his collected stories were published beginning in 1967 and continuing to the most recent which was published last year.

As a literary tool, MacQuarrie created a fictitious organization known as “The Old Duck Hunters Association, Inc.” (ODHA) that consisted only of MacQuarrie and his real-life father-in-law, Al Peck. The stories became immensely popular. Al Peck was known as “Mr. President” or “Hizzoner”, and led the younger MacQuarrie through all sorts of hunting and fishing adventures in northwest Wisconsin. Al Peck’s mackinaw was mentioned in story after story as “Mr. President’s heroic coat”, and even had the one story (“The Old Brown Mackinaw”) dedicated to it. Despite all the mentions, MacQuarrie never tells us anything specific about the coat except that it was “brown”. After Al Peck died in 1939, MacQuarrie kept the coat in his cabin in remembrance of his companion. When MacQuarrie wrote “The Old Brown Mackinaw” in about 1953, he stated that Mr. President’s coat was “…about 50 years old, I guess.”. Based on that, I had assumed that Al Peck had acquired the coat around the turn of the century. MacQuarrie only became acquainted with the coat when he married Al Peck’s daughter in 1927, but the stories indicate that it was well-worn by that point in time.

Since I recently began trying to research mackinaws, I’ve learned that this coat has a “shawl” collar and is likely a later manufacture than “turn of the century”—possibly made in 19-teen’s?? What I know of Al Peck (the owner) is that he was a Superior businessman that had an auto dealership from about 1920 until his death in 1939. He was an outdoors-man that fished and hunted across northwest Wisconsin along with other businessmen of the area. I now assume that Al Peck likely bought the coat in Superior, likely after 1912 time-frame. That would have still made it 15 years old when MacQuarrie first saw it in 1927. From what I’ve learned about the mackinaw story in that area, I wonder if the coat could have been a Patrick-Duluth coat, which I understand was being manufactured on the Duluth waterfront less than five miles across St. Louis Bay from Al Peck’s business area in downtown Superior. Patrick-Duluth was apparently saturating the local area with their advertising during that time, and were evidently in front of that curve compared to other mackinaw manufacturers. I hope that it’s possible that someone with a knowledge of vintage clothing can discern something from these photos, which as far as I know are the only two that exist of “The Old Brown Mackinaw”.


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