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ABERCROMBIE & FITCH CATALOGS

In 1892, David Abercrombie (1867-1931) founded his all-you-need sportsman store for hunters and fisherman. In 1900, Abercrombie joined forces and partnered with Ezra Fitch and opened their first store on the South Street waterfront in lower Manhattan. Fitch and Abercrombie argued about the direction of the company and in 1907 Abercrombie was bought out by Fitch. David Abercrombie left the company and returned to manufacturing outdoor goods.

The first really large A&F catalog was mailed in 1909 as the 1910 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. The huge mailing of this large catalog nearly bankrupted the company. But it survived and prospered. In 1917 A&F moved to a 12 story building at Madison and 45th Street where it became the largest high class sporting goods store in the world.

In response, David Abercrombie, in 1917, joined his D.T. Abercrombie Co. (a manufacturer of sporting goods) with Baker, Murray & Imbrie ("The Sporting Goods Store of Expert Personal Service") as Vice President. The gem of this corporation was the New York Sporting Goods Company, an Abercrombie and Fitch-like retailer specializing in firearms and outdoor goods. Their 1916-17 NY Sporting Goods catalog proclaimed, with a sticker on the cover, their operating division of D. T. Abercrombie Co. All this was decades before A&F bankrupted in 1976 and was reborn with the lure of lurid marketing. My very aged uncle still wears duck hunting clothing from Abercrombie bought just after the war... in the late 40s!

Meanwhile, the VonLengerke and Antoine in Chicago and Von Lengerke and Detmold in New York story was playing out. Bob Christensen wrote a very thorough article for Hunting and Fishing Collectibles Magazine (articles in Vol 4, No. 1 and Vol 4 No. 2 are available from www.HFcollectibles.com) about the Von Lengerkes. Essentially, the story was that VL&D was formed in 1882 and VL&A in 1892. Both companies were sold to Abercrombie & Fitch in 1928 but only VL&A continued to operate under its own name. In fact, VL&A survived in Chicago until 1959 when it too became an A&F store. The VL&D operation was folded into A&F in 1929 just in time for the Great Depression.

Provenance for your gun: If you own a gun made between 1901 and 1976 you may be able to research the original purchaser through the records on file at Griffin & Howe for Abercrombie & Fitch and Von Lengerke and Detmold - Click Here for more information and a list of available makes.