1910 Baker and Hamilton Sporting Goods Catalog
Featured above is an extremely rare pre 1910 Baker & Hamilton (B&H) Sporting Goods catalogue, measuring 8-˝" x 12" with 98 pages, numbered 1200 through 1297. Usually Baker & Hamilton catalogs are 1500 pages but there are larger ones that can contain as many as 5000 – 6000 pages, dealing in everything from construction equipment to arms to toothbrushes. From time to time they issued a smaller catalog of specific types of products which is what we have here and consists mainly of guns, holsters, ammo, etc. The catalog was formerly in the collection of the H.P. White Co. and is date stamped 1948. Baker & Hamilton, a California company, have a long history which is well documented in a 1949 publication celebrating the centennial anniversary of the firm titled "A Century of Hardware and Steel".
The firm of Warren, Baker and Hamilton was established in 1849 in San Francisco by James L.L.F.Warren (1805-1896), Livingston Low Baker (1827-1892) and Robert Muirhead Hamilton (1830-1893). Warren was bought out in 1853 by Baker and Hamilton. The firm was one of the earliest U.S. sales catalogs to advertise the new "Model 1900" Luger. The firm was rather large having several buildings in San Francisco and Sacramento and although the subject catalogue cover only shows San Francisco and Sacramento as locations, apparently a 1902 B&H letterhead correspondence indicates there were offices or outlets in Los Angeles and New York. Their manufacturing facility was located in Benicia, California in the San Francisco Bay area as identified on a 1902 Baker & Hamilton invoice.
The extreme rarity of the subject turn of the century catalog could be due in part to the unfortunate devastation of the Baker and Hamilton building at Pine, Market and Davis Streets by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
In 1918, Pacific Hardware & Steel merged with Baker & Hamilton (a firm that had been selling innovative agricultural tools since the Gold Rush) to create a company known as Baker, Hamilton & Pacific. This company, whose name later reverted to Baker & Hamilton, occupied a San Francisco building into the early 1980's. The building, constructed in 1905, which became the Baker and Hamilton main warehouse is currently a San Francisco historical landmark.
Lacking a catalogue print date, the circa 1905-1910 printing of the catalogue is based partially on the fact that the catalogue features only the production picture of the old model grip safety Luger pistol and late old model Luger carbine on page 1238. Other information dating the catalogue to 1910 or earlier can be found on page 1249 entitled "Metallic Cartridges", specifically the listed U.M.C. headstamped cartridges only with the U.M.C. initials. Prior to merging with Remington, post 1910 cartridges were headstamped REM-UMC.1 The listed WRA 7.65mm Luger cartridge is no indicator of the publication date as UMC and Winchester most certainly introduced/manufactured the 7.65mm Luger round prior to 1905. The subject Baker & Hamilton catalogue listed the Winchester round for the Luger rather than the UMC round could be because they, more than likely did more business with Winchester. Page 1290 features the Ideal Holster/stock rig, again no catalogue printing date indicator, being produced earlier than 1905 although interestingly, appearing on the market almost simultaneously with the Model 1900 Luger. A lot of the early catalogue ads, in addition to the Hans Tauscher sales materiel show both the new Luger and the Ideal holster/stock combination.
The main reason the catalog is probably no earlier than 1905 is because there is evidence of earlier B&H paperwork advertising the Luger, only using a Borchardt-Luger line drawing. Actually there is surviving B&H correspondence as early as 1902 stating, interestingly, that they, B&H, were the Pacific Coast agents for the "Luger" automatic hammerless pistol. In addition, the pistol shown on the back side of the 1902 correspondence enclosed return envelope was a line drawing of the 1899 Borchardt-Luger.
Research has shown the earliest American catalogs advertising the Luger appeared in circa 1902, all picturing line drawings or renderings of the 1899 Borchardt-Luger as apparently production configuration pictures of the Model 1900 weren’t yet readily available. Examples being a Baker & Hamilton correspondence envelope (1902), a 1903 Sunset Magazine Baker & Hamilton Borchardt-Luger ad with yet another B&H location address of Portland, Oregon, a 1902 Shooting and Fishing Journal magazine Schoverling, Daly & Gales Borchardt-Luger ad, William Reed and Sons (1902), A.H. Funke (circa 1902), 1906-1907 Von Lengerke & Antoine of Chicago, a 1907 Francis Bannerman Borchardt-Luger ad in a pre-auction circular for the U.S. Test Eagle Lugers which preceded the main 1907 catalogue.
An example of the slowness of some retailers to update their Luger file pictures to reflect the latest model is the Von Lengerke & Antoine catalog, which, as late as 1911 ran an ad for the Model 1900 production Luger with the same 1899 Borchardt-Luger file picture used in their 1906-1907 catalog, save for a reduction in the price, when the new model production Luger and even the P.08 commercial Lugers by 1911 were being advertised by other retailers. 1903 and later publications show pictures of the 1900 production configuration of the old model Luger. Examples being the subject Baker & Hamilton catalogue (1905-1910), Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue (1903) and a special 1903 A.H.Funke catalogue.
The Luger pistol and carbine is shown on page 1238 of the subject B&H catalogue with accompanying text caption reference to - a recent Washington D.C. (U.S. Army) ordnance department test results. In a recent test at Washington D.C., by the Ordnance Department, the Luger Met all the Requirements and received the Unanimous Approval of the Members of the Board.
The B&H caption text reference to the "recent Washington D.C. Ordnance tests" is unusual as the only documented U.S. Army ordnance Luger tests conducted were at the Springfield arsenal. There is however a web site titled Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record that refers to a Washington, D.C test of the Luger.
Even though it is not shown it is possible that the grip safety new model Luger was in production in the printing time frame of the Baker & Hamilton catalog, although it took until about 1908 to popularize the "New Model" Luger. If B&H is like any of the other earlier catalogs they probably didn’t upgrade their file pictures until absolutely necessary.