My new (old) peacoat (date question)

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by RS Mantis, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. RS Mantis

    RS Mantis New in Town

    Messages:
    7
    Hello,
    I have been reading posting to the Fedora Lounge about Peacoats for about 2 months now. I made an initial purchase of a 1978 Vi-Mil 38S last month. I was quite happy with the coat. It is near flawless in condition inside and out. Just... well, I had this gut feeling that it wasn't Kersey, or blue, even though the time frame should have been right for it to be. The tag didn't specify either wool type, and no matter what the lighting it seems black to me. It has a light off white color canvas type material in the pockets, and the interior lining is beautifully intact, one solid black piece (rayon/ satin like material).
    So to make a long story longer, I just bought another one. Yes, I couldn't seem to help myself. The new (old) one is a 38 from the 60's. The difference is immediately noticeable. The new one is so dark its almost black, but its not. Its texture is like soft-stiff velour. and it is heavier. Only it does not have a tag. It has 2 rows of stitching above the cuffs and it buttons from both sides. Here's the confusing part. no corduroy pockets. The material inside the pockets is almost like moleskin. Very soft, light off white, not like the material in the 1978 coat. The full body black rayon lining is the exact same as the 78. The stitching marks on the inside pocket where the tag was are 1" high by 2.5" long. From the tags I have seen on coat picture at various sites it looks like a US Navy tag size. I believe the dbl. stitching ended in 1966 and dbl. button holes ended in 1965. But the cord pockets were around till 1968. Could this be a transition coat from the early 60's to the late 60's? or a boo boo? I'm going for a 65 date, just cause it's in the middle.
    I don't know why it matters to me, I adore the big ole heavy thing and won't be parting with it, but it still makes me wonder. Any input would be great, or confusing...
     
  2. Peacoat

    Peacoat Bartender Bartender

    Messages:
    5,392
    Location:
    South of Nashville
    Sounds as if you have the date pretty close. Thanks for doing your research before posting. The stitch marks on the US NAVY tags do measure 2.5" x 1", so I would say you are on the money.

    There could be a number of reasons why the pockets aren't corduroy. One could be that the manufacturer didn't have enough corduroy to finish the run of coats for the day. The seamstress was told to go ahead and use the moleskin as the pockets aren't visible anyway. Or the manufacturer obtained a variance for a non conforming material for a limited number of coats. My favorite theory is that these anomalies were intentionally introduced to make life more difficult for future researchers years down the road. Whatever the true reason, we will probably never know as the events occurred 50 years ago. The major players have long since moved on.

    What I find somewhat disturbing, is the fact that "Melton" is not specified on the label of the 1978 coat, if in fact it is Melton. Every example of Melton wool, prior to 1980, that I have seen, has been specified as such on the tag. Are you sure the shell material is different in each of the peacoats? It is easy to tell the difference when they are side by side.

    To determine if the 1978 coat has any blue in it, take a known black object and place it next to the coat while outside (in the shade if the sun is out).

    Welcome to the Lounge. PC
     
  3. Spoonbelly

    Spoonbelly One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    228
    Location:
    Dutchess Co. New York
    Peacoat,
    I wonder if you have ever come across this? A few years ago I bought a coat for my son. It was Melton material but was not 100% black. It was very dark blue, almost black but darker then the old Kersey blue. I forget the year but it was mid - late '70s. So I'm thinking that the first original year, or years of Melton coats were very, very dark blue, almost black. They then went to the 100% black color after this?
     
  4. RS Mantis

    RS Mantis New in Town

    Messages:
    7
    I took them both outside, and both into every room in the house. these are the clearest true to actual color photos I could take. the 1960's coat is on the left and is very blue and the 1978 is on the right and is very black. The 78 coat surface is slightly rougher, between the two, I would say the difference is like fine sandpaper compared to very fine sandpaper (can't think of anything else to compare/contrast to). Perhaps the pocket lining is softer in the 60 coat due to 10+ extra years of use. And it was worn quite a bit according to the interior arm pit lining seams. The 1978 tag is worn but that is the only part of the coat that doesn't appear nearly new. I need more samples to compare too, but I do feel these are not the same grade of wool.
    Thank you for your time and input, it is much appreciated.
    left 1960s right 1978.jpg 1960s left 1978 right.jpg 1978 lining.jpg 1978 tag.jpg
     
  5. Peacoat

    Peacoat Bartender Bartender

    Messages:
    5,392
    Location:
    South of Nashville
    From what I have seen, the Melton coats in the 70s were about the same color as the Kersey coats of that era. But I haven't seen enough of them to form a definitive opinion, especially in light of what you observed. See also RS Mantis' post and pictures of his 1978 Vi Mill* Peacoat--it looks to be a black Melton. Post 1979, when Melton was the issue fabric, the color did appear black. Sterlingwear has the current contract, and has had it for a number of years. Sterlingwear continues to maintain the fabric is a dark blue.

    I just pulled out two of my 1980 Vi Mill coats (see footnote below) and they are black; I can't see any blue in the fabric.

    RS Mantis: It certainly sounds as if the 1978 coat is a black Melton, even though it is not marked as such. To see if the color is actually black, you can't compare it to a dark navy peacoat; you must compare to a known black object. If compared to a dark navy peacoat, it will certainly look black even if it has a small amount of blue in the fabric. From the photographs, the 1978 coat does appear to be black, as do my 1980 coats I just looked at. A very odd finding. And an inconsistent finding. Thanks for sharing.

    ___________
    *Vi Mil, or Viking Military was the name of the military division before the name of the company was changed to Sterlingwear.
     
  6. RS Mantis

    RS Mantis New in Town

    Messages:
    7
    Originally used a black boot and glove to compare the two outside, just no pix. So I just took quick pix inside with the 1978 but the light is casting shadows now and becoming harder to photograph accurately. The 78 is still black though.
    thanks for the reply.
    blk boot n glove.jpg
     
  7. Peacoat

    Peacoat Bartender Bartender

    Messages:
    5,392
    Location:
    South of Nashville
    Yep, it's black. Thanks for taking the trouble to photograph and post.
     
  8. Spoonbelly

    Spoonbelly One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    228
    Location:
    Dutchess Co. New York
    One thing I have noticed is the old dark blue Kersey coats acquire a purplish hue over the top of the dark blue. You can see this when you are outside in the bright sun.

     

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