Antique store find original Fried Ostermann A2 what to do?

warguy

Well-Known Member
On the long holiday weekend, my wife and I drove to her hometown about three hours away. A mid sized city here in the US, it has a large retiree community and I have always had some modest luck at antique stores in the area. On Saturday, we went into a new one I found on the internet. The owner does a lot of estate sales, etc. We looked around, didn't see much, and I introduced myself and left him a card asking that he call if he finds old militaria. As we were walking through the door, a small framed 5X7 photo caught my eye. It was a group of aviators wearing B3 jackets standing in front of an old trainer. I bought the picture after asking the price and the owner commented the photo came from a local estate and that he had the owners B3 jacket at home. He said the jacket was in pretty poor shape. I indicated I had an interest in flight jackets, and it looked like a light bulb went off. He said he had another jacket without fur on it belonging to this same man at the store in the backroom and asked if I would like to see it. When I responded with an energetic yes, he retrieved an A2 flight jacket from the back. Here is what he presented.

Fortunately the original contract label is hanging onto one of the remaining pieces of the original lining. That made identification simple of course, but this contract is so peculiar, with a resource in hand it would not have taken long to identify it as an Ostermann. This contract is described in detail in Eastman's book, plate 16. All of the peculiarities are present...russet goat, M29 Talon zipper, no seam at rear of collar, epaulettes folded over and top stitched twice, the wide leather tabs at bottom, etc. The jacket leather is really pretty nice, with obvious signs of age basically in a patina to the original russet finish. The jacket is quit soft, with cracking to the finish pretty limited. I see no tears or holes to the leather itself. There is no stitching to indicate any patches or name tag was ever sewn on and no evidence of a shoulder decal or paint on the jacket. Basically, it looks exactly as it might have been issued. The lining is shot with large pieces missing, but again fortunately, the original tag remains. All knit is worse for wear and the cuffs especially are tattered. It is a large size, though I cant find a size tag anywhere. There are two Union maker labels stitched inside each pocket but no other tags present. I wear a size 42 which can be a tad big sometimes. I swim in this jacket and think it is at least a 44 maybe even a 46, but I am leaning toward a 44. I will share measurements when I get a chance. The jacket is identified and the original owner is standing second from left in the photograph.

The seller was a nice guy and said he had $10 into this jacket!!! He definitely passed his good fortunate on to me as we agreed to a price.

So my question to you fine folks is what to do with this? I have never worn original jackets before and in any case this one is too large. I have a large collection of original AAF material, but most of my collection consists of artifacts in much better condition than this (although again the leather shell is very nice). I would like to hear from others their thoughts on refurbishing the jacket by adding new knits and lining and throwing it in the collection, refurbishing it to market to others to wear, or leave it alone and market it that way. I really haven't decided what I am going to do with it. Thanks in advance. Kevin
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mulceber

Well-Known Member
First off, congratulations on a stellar find! And hard to beat the price! The fact that there aren't any places where the leather is cracking is a very good sign! I would email John Chapman and ask him what he would do with this jacket. He might recommend someone to send it to, or he might tell you to send it to him so he can restore it. Really hard to say. You'll probably want to replace the knits and the liner. Whoever does it will probably be able to use the original label in the process.

Again, congratulations!
 

warguy

Well-Known Member
Thanks for your nice comments and quick reply. Chapman was certainly at the top of my list for a restoration project. Any ides what a new liner and knits might cost? Thanks again
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
Knits tend to run around $150, from the people I've dealt with. Liner's maybe a bit more expensive. Make no mistake, to restore this jacket, you'll probably end up sinking $300-400 into it, but given that jackets with leather and hardware in this condition tend to run for upwards of $1200, that's still pretty reasonable. The one thing I'd say is crucial is you want someone who is going to hand-sew the new parts in using the original stitch holes. Anyone using a sewing machine is a hard pass. This jacket deserves the best.
 

Chandler

Well-Known Member
What to do with it? Well, *I'm* a 44, just sayin'. ;)

Seriously, not only a great find, the hide has outstanding character. Congrats.
 

Silver Surfer

Well-Known Member
replace liner? yes if you plan to wear it or offer it for sale. both Steve sellers, and Dave Sheeley can replace liners as was done originally. the knits look like some basic darning will suffice. the less done, the better. advice?, such as it is, keep the jacket. or..... sell it to one of the "enthusiasts" here.
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
If you decide to keep it or to sell it .. the less you do to the jacket……. the better it would be. If you decide to display it …..I would leave it alone . If you decide to sell it …. I would let the next owner decide what to do . If you decide to sell it …..I’m sure a few here would be interested in the jacket. Myself being one of them . So I would be interested in seeing those measurements as well . Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
 
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Nnatalie

Well-Known Member
Oh wow!!! What a lucky, unexpected find!

For any of our members more experienced than I, were union labels typical for A-2s, was this a Fried Ostermann peculiarity, or something else? (Not doubting the authenticity at all, just an interesting area to educate myself on, as I'm more familiar with them on civilian clothing)
 

warguy

Well-Known Member
Thanks for all the kind replies so far. I will post some measurements tomorrow. It was definitely a lucky find. I find something once in about fifty visits to antiques stores so I really appreciate how uncommon this stuff has become. I dont know if other manufacturers had the Union labels, but at least one other write up on an original Ostermann jacket I read had the Union label stitched to jacket body inside the pocket like mine. On that particular example, the more common manufacturers white tag label with size was in the other pocket. While mine has a Union label present in each pocket, there is another stitch line in one of the pockets suggesting maybe a manufacturers white cloth label was also there once and now gone.
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Hoping to see some measurements . I think there’s a few of us here who would be interested if it goes up for sale .
 
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