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Help identifying my grandfathers jacket

EdwardABC

New in Town
Messages
41
Hi all

I know this is a total long shot but I’m trying to identify the jacket my grandad is wearing in this photo. We lost all his belongings in a serious of unfortunate events and I guess I just want to see if I can find it to feel closer to him. Any ideas so very welcome.
 

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Aloysius

Practically Family
Messages
795
I don’t think it’s a Universal Racer. When this thread first popped up, I was about to say I think it’s one, but with another look it was clear that the shape (both body and collar) is quite different.
 

EdwardABC

New in Town
Messages
41
I don’t think it’s a Universal Racer. When this thread first popped up, I was about to say I think it’s one, but with another look it was clear that the shape (both body and collar) is quite different.

I’ve gone back and forth a few times, but definitely looks pretty close to the racer. I wonder if they’ve updated the look? The other alternative I was thinking was this coat version, but the photos looks too short to be a coat.
 

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Aloysius

Practically Family
Messages
795
I’ve gone back and forth a few times, but definitely looks pretty close to the racer. I wonder if they’ve updated the look? The other alternative I was thinking was this coat version, but the photos looks too short to be a coat.

The Universal Racer models on Lewis’s site are from three different periods. The buttoned one is the oldest; it was introduced in 1926 and remained in the catalog through the 30s.

The cut looks quite different to my eyes than that of your grandfather’s (fantastic) jacket:
Vintage_Universal_Racer_Mk1.png

Vintage_Universal_Racer_Mk1.png

The buttons on the Lewis are also quite a bit smaller, and you’ll notice that it has big patches of shoulder wadding, which your grandfather’s jacket does not. The buttons on his jacket seem to be mostly functional; only the fastening buttons on the Lewis seem to be functional. And the first thing that jumped to my eye– the buttons on the Lewis are far closer together (not uncommon for show buttons).
ab6a7ac0-365a-4fc4-b52b-712ea6b88753-jpeg.398009

Was your grandfather British? I don’t think it was all that common for Americans at the time to be in British casualwear or vice versa. It’s definitely too short to be that coat, and I think it’s unlikely to be a Lewis in general.

For what it’s worth, the Universal Racer is one of my favorite jacket designs around, and I like your grandfather’s jacket even better. I just don’t think they’re the same jacket.

EDIT: linked your grandfather’s picture so you can see them side by side.
 

EdwardABC

New in Town
Messages
41
The Universal Racer models on Lewis’s site are from three different periods. The buttoned one is the oldest; it was introduced in 1926 and remained in the catalog through the 30s.

The cut looks quite different to my eyes than that of your grandfather’s (fantastic) jacket:
Vintage_Universal_Racer_Mk1.png

Vintage_Universal_Racer_Mk1.png

The buttons on the Lewis are also quite a bit smaller, and you’ll notice that it has big patches of shoulder wadding, which your grandfather’s jacket does not. The buttons on his jacket seem to be mostly functional; only the fastening buttons on the Lewis seem to be functional. And the first thing that jumped to my eye– the buttons on the Lewis are far closer together (not uncommon for show buttons).
ab6a7ac0-365a-4fc4-b52b-712ea6b88753-jpeg.398009

Was your grandfather British? I don’t think it was all that common for Americans at the time to be in British casualwear or vice versa. It’s definitely too short to be that coat, and I think it’s unlikely to be a Lewis in general.

For what it’s worth, the Universal Racer is one of my favorite jacket designs around, and I like your grandfather’s jacket even better. I just don’t think they’re the same jacket.

EDIT: linked your grandfather’s picture so you can see them side by side.

That’s one thing I also should have said, my grandfather was Australian, and this photo was taken in Australia. Which probably makes it a bit more likely it was a British brand because we were only a few decades removed from being a British colony.

You make some super good points. Definitely wondering if maybe this was an older model, but hard to tell just on that one photo. Wish I had more to compare.
 

Aloysius

Practically Family
Messages
795
That’s one thing I also should have said, my grandfather was Australian, and this photo was taken in Australia. Which probably makes it a bit more likely it was a British brand because we were only a few decades removed from being a British colony.

You make some super good points. Definitely wondering if maybe this was an older model, but hard to tell just on that one photo. Wish I had more to compare.

I agree. In the commonwealth, a British or local maker would be just about a certainty. Even so, I don’t think this is a Universal Racer.

Lewis is one of the surviving and flourishing makers from those days but there used to be many more. @Edward is quite knowledgeable about these. There were also many good Australian makers of leather jackets and riding wear. I have forgotten the exact username of the Aussie forum member who knows those quite well, but there is one.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,007
Location
London, UK
I agree. In the commonwealth, a British or local maker would be just about a certainty. Even so, I don’t think this is a Universal Racer.

Lewis is one of the surviving and flourishing makers from those days but there used to be many more. @Edward is quite knowledgeable about these. There were also many good Australian makers of leather jackets and riding wear. I have forgotten the exact username of the Aussie forum member who knows those quite well, but there is one.

It would definitely be interesting to know if any of our Aussie regulars can put a name to it. It's very much in the same stylistic vein as the UR. The button version of the Universal Racer would be a nice option if looking for something in the same ballpark, though as it currently exists (I don't know enough about Lewis pre-1956 to confirm whether the UR was always to the pattern it is now, or if they did other, similar short jackets back in the day) it's not an exact match. This style was very common in part of Europe at the time too, especially Germany. I would imagine there is a possibility it was British-made, though it could also have been Australian in a British / European style. I don't know the Aussie scene, but there were home-grown labels there that produced very distinctive jackets at one time and another (one of the more famous being the original Mad Max jacket).

Great photos, though: always lovely to have more candid shots like that of family in that period.
 
Messages
86
Great photos here.
This style of motorcycle jacket was common in Europe. For all day riding coats were used mostly. The short jackets were used by sportive riders and padded ones for competition and racing. The design with 5 buttons and big collar was the earlier one (pre 1930). Jackets were mostly custom tailored by local craftsmen. Plenty of different styles on pockets and collars. It is almost impossible to find exactly this design. But that´s the challenge....
Here are photos of my oldest jacket. Made in the late 1920s in Germany. Tags were not used often.
The b/w picture shows racers in the early 1950s. The one in the middle wears a jacket, that looks alike.
Your grandfathers bike is a 1930 Norton M18 with 500ccm / 37cui.
0D9D4BF7-7525-431B-9A63-E10E59821EBA.JPG
IMG_0349.JPG
Rennfahrer 50er Jahre.jpg
Norton-1930-M18.jpg
 

Yamahana

Practically Family
Messages
514
Location
Buckeye, Arizona
Great photos here.
This style of motorcycle jacket was common in Europe. For all day riding coats were used mostly. The short jackets were used by sportive riders and padded ones for competition and racing. The design with 5 buttons and big collar was the earlier one (pre 1930). Jackets were mostly custom tailored by local craftsmen. Plenty of different styles on pockets and collars. It is almost impossible to find exactly this design. But that´s the challenge....
Here are photos of my oldest jacket. Made in the late 1920s in Germany. Tags were not used often.
The b/w picture shows racers in the early 1950s. The one in the middle wears a jacket, that looks alike.
Your grandfathers bike is a 1930 Norton M18 with 500ccm / 37cui.
View attachment 398727View attachment 398728View attachment 398730View attachment 398746
Love it all, jackets, motorbikes and all the other gear from this era. It gets my motor running,, head out on the highway...
 
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