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Brass "Winchester" name plaques
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June 22, 2015 - 3:31 am
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Ive got a couple “Winchester” plaques that I am trying to pin down a time frame (dates) for their earliest use based on the font style and use of the word “Trade Mark”.  Any suggestions, sources, or help is greatly appreciated.

Chris

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June 22, 2015 - 3:09 pm
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Winchester started using the term Trade Mark in the 1901-02 time frame. The lightning strike italicized font came into use in 1911-12 time frame. So I would gather those plaques are post 1911. But I imagine they might of been made in the 1920s sometime, when the Winchester-Simmons hardware stores were in full swing.

All that said are you sure they’re real and not fakes? As I believe I have seen some reproductions or fakes made up not so long ago. Where or What did they come from? They look legit.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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June 22, 2015 - 7:18 pm
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Maverick,

I think your on the money on the time frame.  I went through the “One Hundred Years of Winchester Cartridge Boxes” last night by Giles & Shuey to track the “Winchester” font seriations and use of the word “Trade Mark” on cartridge boxes over time and came up with 1911 as well.  From 1906-1910 they would have likely been the block style letters. 

The plates are legitimate, I was lucky enough to find them stuffed in the back of my dads desk drawer recently.  They came off of two sets of gun cabinets that used to be in a general store in Seguin, Texas. 

In the mid 1970’s when my father started his gun store in Seguin, he purchased a set of gun cabinets from a local Vivroux Hardware Co store following a fire sometime in the early 70’s—I remember this because as a kid I liked to go into the store and look at all the animal mounts lining every wall.  I couldn’t have been more than 7-8 at the time and remember seeing all those mounts burned to a crisp. Anyway, the cabinets survived the blaze and my father wanted them for his store so he purchased them when the store was getting rid of a lot of their “junk”.

Vivroux Hardware Company was in business from 1869 to 2001 in Seguin and back in the day was the largest general and retail store in south Texas. One of my father’s longtime friends was Boogie Vivroux, a grandson of one of the 5 generations of owners and also an eclectic collector of Colts, Winchesters, and the like. I was told by both my father and by Boogie that the gun cabinets were commissioned by Winchester with construction labor by local carpenters for the hardware store in or around 1905-1910 to display the Winchester brand firearms in the store. I think Boogie told me 1907.

The cabinets are two-piece, having a lower base having a pair of doors on each side and then the top. I believe they are made of walnut (faces, styles, and trims) with the remaining being pine. One cabinet has shelving on both sides, the other has shelving on one side, the other side is four large drawers. The upper part is a frame having gun racks that hold 20 guns on each side of the cabinet (40 guns per cabinet) and were enclosed by two large sliding plate glass doors that fit into an upper track (steel wheels used as rollers for the base of each glass door). The interior of the gun cabinet was lined with green felt on the back only. The cabinets were made so that one end on each side was finished wood, they were made to be sandwiched together like two book ends. Nail holes on each side show they once had a trim board mortising them together at the center.

The dimensions of each cabinet:
      Overall height of top plus base: 7’10”
      Overall length (base & top): 7’10”
      Height of top: 5′ x 2′ deep
      Height of base: 2’10” x 3’1″ deep.

You can see in the photos that over the years the front on the one on the left had the interior sidewalls of the cabinet painted in that awful green paint, felt lined the back of the case, which I think is original because it covers slatted pine planks in the back and its border has trim covering the seams. The cabinet on the right was converted (according to Boogie) to a fishing tackle display in the 1950-60’s.

I didn’t remember them as a kid but my father always told me those cabinets used to have plaques on them that said “Winchester” (as did Boogie who passed in 2013 at the age of 79). At the center of each lower cabinet door is a void where the plaques used to be. The story goes that the plaques were pulled off the cabinets by Boogie prior to their sale to my father.  However, my father ended up with one of them at the time of the sale and managed to squeeze another out of him a few years later before Boogie has sold the remaining 6. 

The cabinets survived the fire in the late 1970’s that put my father out of business and have resided in a couple barns ever since.  As I mentioned earlier, I came across the pair of plaques in the back of my fathers desk drawer and presumed them to be the ones off the cabinets. They look to have been etched by fire—there is also beading of the varnish on the cabinet doors as a result of the one of the fires. All the nail holes on the door fronts match the fastener holes on the plaques.

I was hoping to find a little history behind these things and confirm what I have been told all these years.  The 1905-10 date I was given may be a little early based on the font style and use of the word “Trade Mark” on the plaque. Its close, but I was hoping that someone may have seen something similar in their travels or in an old hardware store photo. Any information or leads would be greatly appreciated.

They are a little worse for wear after all these years. I have most of the piece parts (except the 6 plaques) and hope to work on them this winter, getting them back to their original condition.    

Here are a few pics

 

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June 24, 2015 - 12:51 am
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Great post Chris, very interesting. Yes, the green paint may need to go as part of the restoration. I sure enjoyed reading about the history of these cabinets and your recollections as a young boy. Its good to have all those memories of our dads from back in the day.

See you in Cody,

                                                                               ~Gary~

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June 24, 2015 - 2:29 am
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Thank you Gary for the comments. 

The cabinets have always been a curiosity to me.  Maybe one of these days I’ll find an old photo from the hardware store with them in it–the chances are likely slim to none.  I have searched online and whatever reference books I have and havent found much.  Pauline M. told me she had seen cabinets similar at the Product Service Dept (thanks again Pauline).    

You bet, see you at Cody.  Just hope the trip this time doesnt involve having to replace a transmission. 

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July 6, 2015 - 3:55 pm
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Very Nice! I’d get those babies restored in a minute. Make a great gun room discussion piece.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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July 8, 2015 - 6:13 am
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Thank you Maverick, and thank you for the PM.  I think your right, based on the font style of the face plates, the cabinets were constructed post 1911.  Boogie V. likely got the dates wrong, or was told wrong, in light of the information you provided regarding font styles on loading tool boxes and cartridge boxes. 

Best,

Chris

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