I was about to just give up on ever finding something I wanted on ebay and actually being able to buy it. I don’t know if it is the influence of all the museum exhibitions of sportswear, but ephemera related to sportswear has gotten a bit crazy, pricewise. Last week I was going to blow a whole $20 on a tiny little beat up and ratty 1919 Keds catalog. Imagine my surprise when it went for $103!
To console myself, I went looking vintage Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs, being reminded by a recent blog comment that I probably do need to add a few of these overpriced gems to my library. I was delighted to run across nine summer sportswear catalogs from Von Lengerke & Antoine, the Chicago Branch of A & F, at a very reasonable price.
Von Lengerke & Antoine was a longtime Chicago sporting store, and was actually a division of a New York store, Von Lengerke & Detmold. This store was the competition of Abercrombie & Fitch, and in 1928, A & F bought out the Von Lengerke stores. That is why you will sometimes see the initials VL&A on Abercrombie & Fitch labels prior to 1960.
VL&A actually came with a bit of notorious baggage – the store was located in Al Capone’s territory, and it was the store in which two of the Colt Thompson machine guns used in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre were purchased.
But there are no machine guns in my catalogs, which start 20 years later, in 1949, and run through 1958. According to the catalogs, VL&A carried the same merchandise as A&F. In 1960s the Von Lengerke & Antoine name was phased out, and the store became known as Abercrombie & Fitch.
The catalogs are a delight for a lover of vintage sportswear, full of men’s and women’s clothing, picnic and travel accessories, sporting goods and just all around fun stuff.