What does Abercrombie & Fitch have to do with firearms records? Today, when we hear of Abercrombie & Fitch, a brand clothing store usually comes to mind. As part of my job as an intern here at the Cody Firearms Records Office, I sort through and organize Winchester Model 21 records and make sure those records are accessible to the staff. In the process, I came across a large amount of Abercrombie & Fitch order forms. Some files even had sixty orders of Model 21 Winchesters for Abercrombie & Fitch in 1941.
This company’s peculiar history all started in 1892 when David Abercrombie founded the store as Abercrombie Co. in New York. After some time, Ezra Fitch bought a share of the company and in the years following, the outdoor store began housing a bigger inventory of sporting apparel. The relationship weakened between the two businessmen when Fitch had different visions for the company than Abercrombie. Abercrombie wanted to continue to sell products to avid outdoorsmen. Fitch wanted to open the store to a range of items that would appeal to everyone. The massive store on Madison Avenue housed elite outdoor goods and firearms during the 1920s. Their store drew a large audience due to the popularity of shooting as sport. It even carried an inventory of elephant guns for exotic hunts. Through the years, Abercrombie & Fitch had its hard times, including Abercrombie leaving the company, as well as the company filing bankruptcy. In spite of their troubles, the company was a major icon of outdoor life in urban New York.
Today, we can look at these specific factory records and usually know where that gun was manufactured and what company it was being sent to, in this case a popular outdoor store in the city. The record allows us to see the original configuration of the firearm. It can be interesting to look at the type of guns and how they were manufactured, as well as what company they were sent to. I’m excited to stumble upon more interesting finds like this during my journey.