Thursday, January 21, 2010

THE WW2 PEACOAT

Sailors on the Alameda naval base in 1945......
The rare Brooklyn depot tag ,is the only way to tell the size on a WW2 peacoat.It was sewn on the rayon lining underneath the "hang loop".Unfortunately they are ,most of the time ,missing due to their "cheese cloth" like material......
The one and only preWW2 and WW2 NAVAL CLOTHING FACTORY tag .An easy detail to look for while hunting for one true gem ....
The 10 "fouled anchor" buttons are factory hand sewn [never go through] and always in a z pattern .Showing here,different shades of kersey wool.A dead stock example and above it, one that has been there......
Another revealing detail: the 2 rows of stitching on the sleeves roughly 3" apart ......


The purpose of this post won't be about schooling you into becoming the ultimate "peacoat expert" on the planet, but more about giving you pointers on how to be sure you have the real deal:the WW2 USN peacoat.....
The pea coat is a true American classic,a garment that seems to transcend many different styles, tastes and genders as working for almost everyone .Perhaps because it is a great example of how function always rules over frivolity in the style stakes.It has been copied so many times over the last decades that i've lost track .Legions of modern manufacturers will come up with a nice story, telling you they were "the one".For me the WW2 US NAVAL CLOTHING FACTORY standard issue is only one.
The pea coat is actually a British or Dutch invention dating back to the 18th Century.It gets its name from the Dutch word: 'pij' used for this kind of coat or jacket,hence 'P-Cloth', 'P-Coat' etc. The fabric is a heavy, coarse, usually 32 ounce, twilled dark blue kersey wool.
The 10 buttons are the easiest way to tell a WW2 era coat from afar{ after WW2 they started making them with 8 buttons}. The reason for this is it extended the lapel so with it un-buttoned at the top it could be worn like a double breasted suit with the lapel lying flat against the front of the coat. This is one of the great things about the pea coat, it can be worn different ways and still look good.Small buttons under the collars, and an attached throat latch allowed the coat to be tightly buttoned at the throat. There was one row of stitching approximately 3" above the cuff, which also had a single row of stitching just above the cuff. The hand warmer pockets were lined with tan or light brown corduroy.The coats were lined with a rayon like fabric,baring the “Manufactured By NAVAL CLOTHING FACTORY” tag on the right inside breast pocket (on the outside of the pocket) with a line for the name and a line for the rate. There was an anchor in the upper right hand corner and the upper left hand corner of the tag.

Now armed with this humble knowledge you should be able to get your hands on a true American classic: the ww2 USN peacoat .........good hunting



7 comments:

  1. Great article! Got one of these myself a while back in really good condition, but its missing the "naval clothing factory" tag. Need one with the tag aswell ;-) Great jacket for cold norwegian winters!

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  2. also wanted to say I truly enjoy the quality of your photos!

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  3. Loved your informative post!
    I just snagged an incredible example of the exact coat you describe. This Pea coat was found in a small antiques shop in Utah. They were asking $85 but with it being 90 degrees outside and the item being a heavy wool coat, I was able to talk the sales lady down to $50 I was saddened because one of the 10 large bakelite buttons was missing, but just found it pinned to the inside breast pocket. My coat actually has a persons name printed to the breast pocket label. "James Lamar" and on the Rate line it says H.S. Patterson I'm guessing that's the ship old Lamar was on. I think I'll do a blog post on this great old coat find. Check it out, I'll show some pictures too. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge on the subject. Ryan

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  4. Thank you for this post! I found your site looking for more information on WW2 Navy Pea Coats since I recently (yesterday) found my Grandfather's Pea Coat in mint condition. It has his name printed and I know he was a machine gun instructor in WW2 so I know this is the real deal. Everything you say is a match! I have seen pictures on other sites that to me seem inaccurate mainly due to the ripples or folds in the photos. This wool I have WILL NOT RIPPLE! This coat is HEAVY! Lucky for me his coat fits me perfectly! (So do his premium bowling balls!) Thank you genetics! I recently acquired a newer Pea Coat for my wife that is an 8 button much newer variety. It is a nice coat for sure, but I have never really liked how the newer ones flare at the collars. (for me) I was stunned when I put this on how nice it looks on me. I live in Kansas and the winters lately have been exceptionally cold and windy so I look forward to being toasty this winter! But mostly I will enjoy wearing a premium coat with a story deeply connected to me. I remember him telling me how he lost a lot of friends in that war. I also remember him telling me about how they had to stay at attention in their Dress Whites for hours at a time and many of them would pass out (did not move their knees to pump blood back up) and their ears would burn and peel like crazy constantly.

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  5. thx for sharing ......no doubt you'll be warm this coming winter .

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  6. Have you ever heard of a Naval Peacoat for a woman? I found one here at my local thrift store with the US Naval Clothing Factory label in it.... but it seems to be styled for a female.

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