Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mele Kalikimaka

'Hawaii- The Surf Rider'
Charles W. Bartlett
Woodblock print

'Two Finger Poi'
John M. Kelly
Oil on board

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Antique Navajo Blankets

Navajo Blanket
First phase
Ca. 1845

Navajo blanket
Second phase
Ca. 1850

Navajo blanket
Third phase
Ca. 1870

The history of Navajo textiles is complex- sovereignty, subjugation, and renaissance. The cross- pollination of design motifs with the Spanish settlers in Chimayo, New Mexico is a whole topic in itself. These images: Navajo blankets 101.1

Images from:
Woven by the Grandmothers
Ed. Eulalie H. Bonar
Smithsonian Institution Press

Additional selected bibliography from my personal library:

Navajo Textiles
The William Randolph Hearst Collection
Nancy J. Blomberg
The University of Arizona Press

The Song of the Loom
New Traditions in Navajo Weaving
Frederick J. Dockstader
Montclair Art Museum


Stetson 100 "Open Road"

Stetson 100 "Open Road" with hat box

Montecristi custom dress-weight fedora

Montecristi custom dress-weight fedora with box

One of F&D Co.'s first projects was to research and understand fedoras from the '40s and '50s. I have a stack of 30 some-odd vintage fedoras in my attic waiting to be photographed, described, and listed to the Ebay store. Here are two choice hats from the collection:

Stetson 100 "Open Road"
The hat of presidents, cattle barons, and oil moguls, the 100 is the finest hat Stetson ever made. In the late '40s- early '50s, this hat sold for the princely sum of $100. 100% pure beaver silver belly, this hat has the finest, firmest felt I've ever seen in a hat- smooth as a baby's butt. If you could get a hat of this quality made today, it would set you back a couple of grand.
As good as it gets: new-old-stock, and unworn. The wayback machine doesn't cough up gems like this very often.

Bound for Ebay

Montecristi custom dress-weight fedora
I had this hat made for me by Montecristi Custom Hat Works on a swing through Sante Fe a couple of years ago. Dimensions and details were taken from a vintage Pilgrim that was my every-day hat at the time. 100% pure beaver, Silver Belly with bound brim. New and unworn.

Bound for Ebay

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Basic steel road bike

A bicycle build project that I approached as a styling exercise- a study in black and silver. All new-old-stock, including the frame, except for the saddle, fenders, and freewheel which are new. Straight from the wayback machine with zero miles logged.

You can read more about the build and the tech specs here.

Steel is real.

Bound for Ebay

Monday, December 14, 2009

About F&D Co.

Some 7 or so years ago, I set out, with the help of my sister, to build a brand around gear that was authentic and well made, with a focus on a small handful of venerable American companies that have resisted the relentless push to sacrifice quality for increased market share and profits. We were growing increasing dissatisfied with the avalanche of cheap disposable crap- particularly offerings from companies trading on their hard-earned reputation for quality gear to peddle pale imitations of what their brands once stood for.

Thus Five & Dime Cowboy was born. The name is a double reference. First to the now largely disappeared family-owned businesses of our youth- five and dimes, hardware stores, butcher shops- and the way in which the internet and Ebay had become a virtual wayback machine. The second reference is to the derogatory term “dimestore cowboy”- someone who affects cowboy dress, but has no connection to land, livestock, or horsemanship…”all hat, and no horse.” A bass-ackwards name for a brand that intends to focus on quality and authenticity, but a reminder that the line between an authentic style and mere affectation can become thin indeed.

Little did we know that we were out in front of a tidal wave of interest in authentic American goods. In addition, we didn’t fully appreciate the amount of time and capital required to bring the brand to life. We had a grand time though- buying up a pile of New-Old-Stock vintage clothing and gear on Ebay, and becoming experts in categories that few in the world cared about any longer.

The purpose of this blog is to winnow and sort the collections- some of the goods bound for the mountain cabin, some for Ebay, and some reserved for daily use. All of this liberally larded with references to things, people, and places that I find interesting, worthy of comment, and, above all, real.

To be sure, others have plowed large swaths of this ground before me with considerable energy and devotion- Leslie Larson of Archival Clothing, Andy Beach of Reference Library, and Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean to name a few. I don’t hope to match these efforts, but I hope that you will find something of interest here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Scandinavian wood burning stoves

Jotul 606

Jotul 602

Jotul 601

It has been unusually cold this holiday season in Northern California, and my mind is occupied with fitting out a small Forest Service cabin that we are in the process of purchasing at Echo Lake. First order of business- after shoring up the ca.1921 foundation- is to fit a proper wood stove more in keeping with the vintage of the place.

Finely cast and enameled classic box stoves from Scandinavia were popular in the U.S. in the mid ‘70s from makers such as Jøtul, Morsø, and Lange. Lange has been absorbed by a company making sleek, minimalist stoves, and Jøtul and Morsø each have a single model available in the old style. Sadly, the rich enameled colors are a thing of the past…”any color you want, as long as its black.”

The Jøtul 606- one of the nicest stoves of its type to my eye- is no longer made, and rarer than hen’s teeth in the U.S. Built on a firebox similar to that of the 602, it features a heat exchanger that functions as a secondary combustion chamber, and radiates more of the heat generated into the room rather than up the stack.

The Jøtul 602, nicknamed “The Little Giant,” is capable of kicking out some serious heat despite its small size. Back in the day, I lived for several years in a little cabin in the mountains of Mendocino Co. with no electricity or telephone, and my Waterford- made copy of the 602 was the focus of my daily routine. I still have that stove as a reminder of the days of chopping wood and carrying water.

From Jøtul’s website:

The Classic Award for Design Excellence is awarded to products that have been in the market for at least ten years and are still commercially successful. The aim is to encourage companies to invest in design long-term. Experience shows that good design products are competitive, have longevity and give stable profit as well as offers the customer functional and aesthetically pleasing products.
Jøtul F 602 a best seller since 1936, received the Classic Award for Design Excellence in 1999.

The Jøtul 601, apparently available only in Eastern Europe and Russia, is even smaller than the 602. Sweet!