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Bancroft hat question


renfield
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I was wondering if there is any way to tell if a Bancroft Flighter was made during W.W.II or post war. I know the Bancroft Co. was around long after the war. I have seen Bancroft caps that looked like Flighters but had another name on the swetband. Was the Flighter the style made with the soft leather brim? Was the Flighter made post war? I tried a google search, but did not come up with much. I know there are a couple of books about this, but I thought I would ask here. I am sort of looking for some history of the Bancroft hat co.

 

Thanks

Steve

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I was wondering if there is any way to tell if a Bancroft Flighter was made during W.W.II or post war. I know the Bancroft Co. was around long after the war. I have seen Bancroft caps that looked like Flighters but had another name on the swetband. Was the Flighter the style made with the soft leather brim? Was the Flighter made post war? I tried a google search, but did not come up with much. I know there are a couple of books about this, but I thought I would ask here. I am sort of looking for some history of the Bancroft hat co.

 

Thanks

Steve

 

That is a question I've also had. I tried getting in touch with the Bancroft people (and Switlik too, incidentially) but to no avail. Some caps have that this-is-obviously-WWII feel to them, but others don't. As far as I know, all Flighters had the soft, highly flexible visor.

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  • 1 year later...
archbury918
I was wondering if there is any way to tell if a Bancroft Flighter was made during W.W.II or post war. I know the Bancroft Co. was around long after the war. I have seen Bancroft caps that looked like Flighters but had another name on the swetband. Was the Flighter the style made with the soft leather brim? Was the Flighter made post war? I tried a google search, but did not come up with much. I know there are a couple of books about this, but I thought I would ask here. I am sort of looking for some history of the Bancroft hat co.

 

Thanks

Steve

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archbury918

Bancroft started around 1900 in Massachusetts. They made a number of caps for all needs from the military to the milkman.

The company divided after the founder retired. The heirs had a feud and split the company. When the Army switched to berets in 2001, only the one family member, now in Arkansas, had the machinery to produce them. They continued to do so until the Army discovered that they were being swindled on the contract. They sued Bancroft and the company went into bankruptcy.

You're asking about the Flighter in specific. For economy during wartime, Bancroft started using a single layer of leather for the visor. This gave it the signature fold and curve. The AAF took to this style due to the ability to stuff it into your jacket while flying. The popularity of the feature caused many copycats such as Dobb's, Lewis (Flyweighter), Wimbeldon, and probably a half dozen more. Bancroft applied for a patent, but wasn't granted until around 1945.

It very much became associated with pilots and their leather jackets for that mystique. The original cost was $7.50 as compared to $14.00 for a Luxemberg or Berkshire, two of the more premier cap makers of the time. So cost was also a factor, as officer's were required to purchase their own uniforms.

The only way to identify a wartime with a post war cap is the leafing stamp on the sweatshield. Wartime had "pat. pend", post had the actual patent number printed. This also ceased the manufacture of the copycats.

For whatever reason these caps have become highly sought after. The market could top $500 before the economy hit the skids. Still they get more attention and price than most of the others.

If your looking a for a great reproduction of the original, www.diamondcapco.com makes them. You won't find better. Even Eastman Leather has him make them for his line.

michael

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An interesting read...I've certainly learned something today...thanks archbury918, and welcome to the forum! To broaden the "Bancroft" discussion a little further, I've got several of their patented "Pac-Cap" officers' visors. What's the story behind those?

 

Sabrejet :think:

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archbury918
An interesting read...I've certainly learned something today...thanks archbury918, and welcome to the forum! To broaden the "Bancroft" discussion a little further, I've got several of their patented "Pac-Cap" officers' visors. What's the story behind those?

 

Sabrejet :think:

 

Bancroft started those in the 50's. You will note that the crown will have a shield stating, "makers of fine caps for 50 years" inside.

It's purpose was to allow your Service Cap to be packed without crushing it. The Pentagon now took a dim view of any cap that was less than perfect in appearance.

Regulations required you wear your garrison, or commonly known overseas cap while traveling. You would remove the eagle device from the cap and the peak would fold forward on a hinge inside. It reduced the shape of the cap to be similar with the pre WWII Navy 'cracker jack' cap.

M

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Bancroft started those in the 50's. You will note that the crown will have a shield stating, "makers of fine caps for 50 years" inside.

It's purpose was to allow your Service Cap to be packed without crushing it. The Pentagon now took a dim view of any cap that was less than perfect in appearance.

Regulations required you wear your garrison, or commonly known overseas cap while traveling. You would remove the eagle device from the cap and the peak would fold forward on a hinge inside. It reduced the shape of the cap to be similar with the pre WWII Navy 'cracker jack' cap.

M

 

 

Thanks archbury. Yes..I'm aware of the reasoning behind the collapsible crown. It was the time period of the introduction of this feature which always intrigued me. So it's 50s? Any idea how long they produced this particular line for? Did it die a natural death...or what? Thanks.

 

Ian :thumbsup:

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archbury918
Thanks archbury. Yes..I'm aware of the reasoning behind the collapsible crown. It was the time period of the introduction of this feature which always intrigued me. So it's 50s? Any idea how long they produced this particular line for? Did it die a natural death...or what? Thanks.

 

Ian :thumbsup:

 

 

My guess would be they died by both pen and gavel. I served in the 80's thru 90's and had that specific cap. When the Army in it's infinite wisdom abolished the service cap in favor of those damn berets, only the dress blue version was authorized. Being that Bancroft held the patent, their demise buried that too.

The Air Force was still using them until they found another supplier.

Michael

and thanks for the welcome. It's been years since I visited this site.

Cheers!

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My guess would be they died by both pen and gavel. I served in the 80's thru 90's and had that specific cap. When the Army in it's infinite wisdom abolished the service cap in favor of those damn berets, only the dress blue version was authorized. Being that Bancroft held the patent, their demise buried that too.

The Air Force was still using them until they found another supplier.

Michael

and thanks for the welcome. It's been years since I visited this site.

Cheers!

 

Then welcome back! It's always good to get the inside line from ex-military men who knew this stuff intimately! Another visor-dating question for you...not necessarily Bancroft's though! Have you any idea when the tubular nylon-mesh crown stiffeners were first introduced for use in US military visor hats? The earliest example I can date is a USAF Colonel's visor from my collection which has one, and which I know was worn by him in the mid to late 50s.

 

Ian

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archbury918
Then welcome back! It's always good to get the inside line from ex-military men who knew this stuff intimately! Another visor-dating question for you...not necessarily Bancroft's though! Have you any idea when the tubular nylon-mesh crown stiffeners were first introduced for use in US military visor hats? The earliest example I can date is a USAF Colonel's visor from my collection which has one, and which I know was worn by him in the mid to late 50s.

 

Ian

 

 

Ian, my guess would be his would've been one of the first. During WWII, they used a roll of some type of foam. Most have disintegrated over the decades. I have a cap from the 50's that uses a steel band, surrounded by a nylon mesh. The USN and USMC caps from the era used just the steel band.

My purchase caps used a narrower circumference all nylon grommet. I used to pull mine out anyway..... just a rebel I guess! I also used my father's WWII 'victory wing' eagle device, until some Colonel pulled me aside and told me to 'retire' it. I still wore it when not on the parade grounds!

M

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Ian, my guess would be his would've been one of the first. During WWII, they used a roll of some type of foam. Most have disintegrated over the decades. I have a cap from the 50's that uses a steel band, surrounded by a nylon mesh. The USN and USMC caps from the era used just the steel band.

My purchase caps used a narrower circumference all nylon grommet. I used to pull mine out anyway..... just a rebel I guess! I also used my father's WWII 'victory wing' eagle device, until some Colonel pulled me aside and told me to 'retire' it. I still wore it when not on the parade grounds!

M

 

 

Roger that...thanks! (And what better way to honour your father? Regulations?! Harrrumph!)

 

Ian :thumbsup:

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archbury918
Thanks for the info - been wondering about these things forever!

 

No problem, happy to have some useful nonsense in my head!

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Thanks for the info on Bancroft! I always liked their quality. I have a couple of Flighters here, one in USAF blue from the 1950s with a thicker visor.

post-32676-1303088445.jpg

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archbury918

Matt, Nice looking caps! I can see the OD has had little wear, it still bears the imprint of the original doughnut it had. Yes, even the vulnerable Flighter of WWII had the grommet in the cap when purchased new. Also worth noting is that the logo imprinted on the sweatshield is heat stamped and not leafed. Most I've found like that were on the summer khaki version. I guess when you're putting thousands of caps together you use whatever materials are at hand.

As you discovered, the later AF blue model shared little with the original WWII model outside of name.

Of personal interest, your OD model sports the current issue eagle, whereas the AF cap has the 'straight wing, victory eagle' I made mention of wearing on my cap (of course mine was the gold wash brass version). You can see the similarities, but not enough for me to get away with!

M

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The OD Flighter belonged to a Chaplain, who had great taste in hats. That regulation eagle is the original one. I like the silver V wing eagle on the AF cap too, very cool. I have a summer khaki Flighter too that is much 'saltier'. It belonged to John M. Gilkey, but I'm not sure what he flew or where.

post-32676-1303249876.jpg

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SPEAKING OF CAP EAGLEs & FLGHTERS

 

Purchased a nice USAF Bancroft Flighter at our Wichita Show two week-ends ago. Notice in the picture it has an extremely large eagle, definitley not regulation. You can see this particular cap eagle has been on the hat forever and mist have been worn that way. I took the eagle off to check it out, and found something else interesting about the hat. I has two metal gromet holes for mounting cap badges, one to accomodate the standard badge, and one for the oversize badge. Very interesting.

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post-14361-1303251238.jpg

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This has turned out to be a great Flighter thread! That oversize eagle is awesome, Cookieman!

Nice crushers archbury! Is there a variety of makers in there?

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archbury918

Matt, those are all Flighters. I have about 20 total. I typically put a Gemsco on the OD's and a Meyer like Cookieman's AF cap on the khakis.

Actually, the one lowest right is a custom 'pinks' with a green mohair band.

I need to retake the photos!

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