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Vintage Sears Hercules Halfbelt

Mrfrown

One Too Many
Messages
1,179
It’s gained much in the way of years and character, and lost none of that heroic strength.

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Hercules!

At this point I have several moto and trucker jackets that I can wear across a variety of temps. I really wanted to find something out of that mold, something with character, something that could fill a lot of roles.

On to the jacket. It’s from the 40s or 50s? Horsehide. The color is a dark brown with red undertones. It’s clearly been worn and used well over its many decades. The leather is pliable, feels smooth, moves and drapes easily. It has amazing grain, wrinkles, and creases giving it a wealth of character. There are two very small holes in high wear areas, which are almost unnoticeable.

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The lining is for real nylon. I had read other labels that say something like “Nylon Lined. Nylon Stitched.” This lining is definitely just a thin layer of red nylon over the leather. Its not sewn against the base of the hem, I believe with the intention of allowing better airflow on the back. See!

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Aside from these interesting details, the fit is great! I’ve found that with just a shirt I have to crank in the straps on the half belt. I’ll let them out whenever layering is necessary. The pockets are easy to use, the zips all work great. All in all, just a well-made, well-designed jacket I’m lucky enough to call my own.

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Seb Lucas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
7,575
Location
Australia
Nice jacket. There are so many variations to these Sears jackets. Interesting how much lighter they are to most of the reproductions. Nylon is featured because it was the space age wonder fabric. In fact leather jackets like yours would gradually be phased out in favor of nylon jackets like the McGregor Anti-freeze which was lighter and more water resistant.
 

dudewuttheheck

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,475
Great jacket! Fit is excellent and I love that interesting detail of how the lining isn't sewn at the bottom. I don't think I've ever seen that before. Can you tell if it works or not?
 

Seb Lucas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
7,575
Location
Australia
Great jacket! Fit is excellent and I love that interesting detail of how the lining isn't sewn at the bottom. I don't think I've ever seen that before. Can you tell if it works or not?

Not connecting the lining to the hem is traditional period tailoring. Not just in leather but blazers and overcoats. It actually requires more work because it needs the lining end to be perfectly straight and elegantly stitched. If you just stitch it into the jacket it is easier to hide sins.
 

Mrfrown

One Too Many
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1,179
Thanks for the kind words y’all.

@Seb Lucas Interesting to know about the unattached lining at hem being “the way things were done.” My experience is growing, but still very limited. Your point about the wonder tech of the era is spot on: nylon the wonder fabric, Velcro the wonder closure, “foam” insulated leather jackets, and so on. It’s easy to see that wonderment in the ads and catalogs. However details about construction, much less so. It does indeed run a perfect, straight line above the back hem. I didn’t immediately realize it was unattached.

Do you know the intended purpose of this method with the lining and hem? Just for looks? Does my guess about cooling bear some truth?

It is lighter than I expected reading some descriptions of Hercules jackets (and as compared to Aero’s CXLFQHH) as bomb proof and so on. It’s about 3.7 pounds and wears very comfortably. I did try it out with a thicker cardigan, and it really works well for layering. (I’d probably wear a shorter sweater but time for photos is limited). The nylon lining is actually really great for allowing ease of movement with the sweater on.

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@dudewuttheheck I have no idea yet if it works to cool or not- temps in the 90s + here so my wearing time was limited to the photo op. Will report back as time goes on.
 

Cornelius

Practically Family
Messages
715
Location
Great Lakes
I've seen the unattached bottom liner hem on longer outwear before, such as car coats. I've been told this was done to allow the lining to move a bit separately from the hide and prevent the coat bunching up when seated, that sort of thing, though I'm sure any makers on this forum who work at Aero or the like could enlighten us. Definitely a more difficult method of construction rarely seen nowadays (except on a Filson rain coat of mine), so there must've been good reason.
 

Claybertrand

Practically Family
Messages
958
Dude!!!!! I was waiting for this posting!!!! I thought maybe you forgot to post your pics upon receiving this gem!!! Figured you were off Adventuring like a BOSS with that vintage piece!!!!!

Ok, I'm late to the party here and this type of true vintage is what I mainly collect so I may be biased but damn man, I love this jacket!! As others have said, the fit is great!!!! Honestly, the FIT, with a jacket of this vintage built for humans of a different size and era, is the absolute KEY!!! I have said before, the FIT is the true Holy Grail. The jackets come around from time to time if you are looking, but the rare true vintage jacket that can still properly fit a modern man is the mother lode for me. I know I've overpaid perhaps for some strictly because they are vintage AND actually FIT right!!! Might have a missing tag which can render a jacket unidentifiable and thus less valuable (or hard to place a legitimate value on)--but if the measurements are gonna fit me right and it checks boxes as to style, quality etc.-- that's a REAL find.

Interesting how you described the liner feel. My similar Hercules has that same sort of Cardinal Red Nylon liner (I never actually determined exactly what the liner was made of---but its logical that its Nylon). But it seems to be a sturdier, stiffer type of Nylon than I see in a lot of other jackets. Maybe the others I am comparing have Rayon or some other silkier feeling material but the Hercules liner has a pretty sturdy feel in my jacket. Similar to an old Langlitz Goatskin I have. I don't know if it is just how it was first made before they started to perfect the material and make it softer or before they started to blend other fabrics for liners, or if it has to do with age. But the liner in my Hercules seems to be a sturdy, early Nylon (as others have mentioned) that looks and feels like it would last longer than the softer liners I see failing in other similarly aged jackets I have. I need to look to see if mine is the free floating liner unattached to the hem. Cool to pick over these details!!!;)

Thanks for the full report on the jacket too and the pics. I just really love the look man. You could be an Extra in Sea Biscuit, Cinderella Man, The Irishman, etc. Also, you're a true ADDICT now. When you are sending out fit pics of leather in June w 90+ degree temps, you KNOW you're a certain special kind of CRAZY!!! Love it brother!!!! I'm really happy for you man. Great addition to your collection ESPECIALLY if you were looking to round it out with some true vintage.

Mr. Frown has gotta be ALL Smiles TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D:D:D:D:D
 

Mrfrown

One Too Many
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1,179
Heh I can feel your excitement through the screen!

The whole fit thing is a big part of why I felt like I had to jump on it even though I won’t get any use out of it over the summer.

Looking forward to getting some real use out of it over the years.
 

tmitchell59

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,658
Location
Illinois
Yes, that is a nice one. This is not a common Hercules style with the pocket configuration, cuffs and in a shorter style. I look at a lot of Hercules jackets and this is not one I have seen. It is 50s with that label. No telling early or mid 50s.

Congratulations, fits nicely!
 

tmitchell59

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,658
Location
Illinois
I believe this is the jacket. Notice the nylon lining banner. Someone says California Sportswear did not sew the lining hem. I will check some of mine. This lining is distinctive and shows up right around 1950.

This jacket is listed in the Sears catalog, 1949-1951. Note the "old" label in the right corner below, this changed to your label c.1952.

This page is from the 1951 catalog.

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