Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rewaxing Day

Last year, I had the pleasure of watching the rewaxing guy do his thing at the Barbour US HQ in New Hampshire. While dropping off and picking up some jackets, I asked if I could watch the process. The back room is off limits to the public, but my Irish silver tongue worked it's magic. Well, his English was as good as my Spanish and that's not saying much about my Spanish. Mostly, I watched and managed to get a few questions out. I wish I had been able to video the entire thing so I could record the order in which he covered the jacket with wax. I got the key points and will make a little video sometime soon, showing what I learned from him and what I've figured out on my own.

I've rewaxed two jackets before today: a Bedale and a Transport Jacket. Today I rewaxed three jackets: a Border and two children's Bedales. It got a little crazy at the end when I was rushing the work so I could run out and pick up the kids, but it all got done and I managed to clean up before my wife got home. Here are a couple of the pictures of the process. I have some other pictures of the Transport Jacket rewax that I'll post tomorrow. Cheers.

"Sorry They Didn't Leave a Number"

Another Barbour booklet. Tasty.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All About Wax

From the Barbour webpage:

Barbour has got an incredibly long and loving history with waxed cotton, and it could be argued that our relationship with this material for use in clothing is the longest running and most consistent in the world today.

Back in 1894 when John Barbour founded J. Barbour & Sons, South Shields was a busy port in the North East of England. As such there was a big demand from Barbour for clothing that would keep all the sailors, fishermen, river, dock and shipyard workers dry. At the time, Barbour produced a range of clothing called the Beacon Brand and the term Oilskin was used to describe this thick waterproof fabric. But contrary to popular belief, we didn’t actually invent Oilskins and the process of waterproofing fabric with oils and waxes predates even the original founder of Barbour himself.

The process of impregnating fabric to make it waterproof is traced back to the 15th century. Mariners used to oil and grease their heavy sailcloth and create makeshift waterproof capes when out at sea to keep the winds and driving rain at bay. By 1795 the Scottish sailmaker Francis Webster Ltd made a form of oiled flax sails, and these were used by the fleet of British Clippers at that time. A by-product when flax was made was a small seed called linseed. It was found that when these seeds were ground up to a paste, the linseed oil could be used to coat the flax sailcloth to make it waterproof. This method produced a fabric which resembles the wax cotton material that we are familiar with today.

But the weight of these heavy flax sails became an issue for the ship designers because the Clippers needed to be faster and lighter in order to gain an advantage over their rivals. It was then discovered that cotton became a perfect alternative to flax, and waxed cotton sails were introduced. The recipe for producing this waterproof cotton remained pretty much unchanged from the mid 19th century right through to the 1930’s and the very first Beacon Brand Oilskins that we produced back in 1894 were based on this traditional flax seed recipe.

But there were problems with the original Oilskins, including the fabric becoming rigid and stiff in very cold weather, and also turning a shade of yellow, and therefore in the 1930’s a new generation of proofed cottons was developed. But this wasn’t easy. It was a complicated process and the finished material involved a lot of cooperation between three different companies and two years of development to perfect the process. But it paid off. The new cotton was designed to be used exclusively for outerwear and as such was perfect for the job at hand.

In the post-war years, the uses of waxed cotton multiplied and as a result the Barbour International motorcycle suit was born. The distinctive International Suit with its slanted map pocket was a favourite among trials riders and was worn the world over. During the 1964 International Six Days Trial, Steve McQueen and the rest of the American team all wore our International Suits and our suits were worn by virtually every British International team from 1936 to 1977, when we made the decision to pull out of the motorcycle clothing market.

There have been improvements and changes in the production and manufacturing of waxed fabrics since the 1930’s and the material has been refined over the decades to become the unique wax cotton that Barbour is famous for today. But there are in fact several different types of waxed cotton that we use, and there are quite big differences in look, touch and performance between each one.


Our oldest and more traditional wax cotton is called Sylkoil. This is an “unshorn” wax where the cotton comes straight from the loom while it’s slightly fluffy and is then dyed and waxed. The natural imperfections of the weave are reflected in the rich variations of colour and finish and over time, this fabric softens into a lovely slightly peachy looking cotton between waxes. It is available in 3 different weights: 4oz, 6oz and 8oz.


Milledwax is a luxurious brushed wax which is passed slowly and carefully over emery rollers to provide a fine, soft suede-like finish. It is available in a heavyweight 8oz fabric.


Thornproof wax is a lustrous wax with a deep colour and even touch. The cotton is calendered between rollers and then dyed. The resulting finish is smooth cotton which we term Thornproof because it is extremely resistant to snags and pulls from spiky plants such as brambles and hawthorn. Our Thornproof wax is available in 6oz.

Antique Wax

Antique wax is heavily calendered which results in a lustrous glossy finish that changes with wear and relaxes with age. It is currently available in a light weight 4oz cotton which is ideal for the cooler months.

Weathered Wax

Weathered wax, sometimes referred to as Cracked Wax, is an aged finish wax used predominantly in vintage garments to give a characteristic weathered appearance. It is available in heavier weight 8oz cotton.

Barbour Catalogue 1980

I don't own a copy of this catalogue. I'm on the lookout, though. This was grabbed from millymcmahon.blogspot. Kudos. I think this picture really defines what the Barbour jacket is all about.

Barbour Promotional Booklet 2008

Very similar to the "Weather Comfort" book, yet smaller in size. It has a lot of the same information and pictures too. It was released to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Barbour catalog in 1908. The cover is a reproduction of the very first catalog, which was only 12 pages.

It's a nifty little booklet and there are some scans of it out there on the interwebs, if you look. I'll put some up, of course, after I fix my scanner.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BBC Video from 2008

A nice video showing the rewaxing table and production line at Barbour. A mini history of the company with interviews of employees, as well as Dame Margaret Barbour. Please excuse the advertisement at the beginning of the video.


Nice full page magazine ad from the late 70's.

Weather Comfort

A promotional book put out by Barbour. There's no date on it, but I think it came out around 2007. There are some nice pictures of old catalogues inside. I'll post the scans later.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Barbour Catalogue 1965-66 Price and Size guide

I couldn't fit this in the last post, since I was only allowed 5 pictures in the upload. Perhaps a Flicker account is in my future. Well, here is the price list and size guide for the 1965-66 catalog.

Barbour Catalogue 1965-66

These images have been taken from a French clothing forum. You can see the original pictures here: Depiedencap

Mostly the same pictures as the 1967-68 catalog from my collection and I'll post those when I get the scanner up and running. In the meantime, enjoy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Barbour Catalogue 1990 Preview

Another little 1990's catalog. These sure are small- (around 4" x 6") but fit nicely in a jacket pocket or even a repair kit. This catalog has been partly scanned by Archival Clothing. You can find those scans here:

Archival Clothing

Barbour Catalogue 1994 Preview

83 little (4"x6") pages of Barbour. There's a nice guide to reproofing your jacket on the last page, although you'll need a magnifying glass to read it. Great supplements too. It will be a while before this one gets scanned.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Beacon Oilskins~ Barbour Advert from 1917

Beacon Oilskins by J. Barbour and Sons, October 31, 1917. Happy Halloween! Stupid scanner is still giving me problems, so here are some more iPhone pictures with close ups. "Illustrated art booklet sent post free". I'd like one of those right now. Enjoy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Steve McQueen Sidenote

Nice photo gallery of the US team at the 1964 International 6 Day Trials in East Germany. A great candid moment of the team in their Internationals. Several more nice pictures at The gallery is courtesy of Donna Redden.

Steve McQueen Limited Edition

Luxist has a nice piece on the Steve McQueen Limited Edition Internationals. They look so good.

Please read the article at Luxist.

Motor Cycle Magazine- 23 February 1967

Sweet quarter page ad for the Barbour International Suit. Plenty of other pictures in the magazine that I'll scan someday. I hope someone is enjoying these. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Barbour Catalogue 1964-65 Preview

39 pages and a Trade Price List pullout. Scans to come soon. I think I'll start with the oldest catalogue and work my way back to the most current. I've obviously done a horrible job at presenting these in any orderly fashion thus far, but will make more of an effort to stay organized with the final scans.

Barbour Repair Kits

Some of these repair kits are 2 crest and some are 3 crest. The one on the lower right is for the Barbour International.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Barbour Catalogue 1962 Preview

No pattern samples in this catalog. The design has changed little from 1961, but it is still 46 pages of sweet catalog goodness.

Barbour Catalogue 1961 Preview

Sweet 1961 Barbour Catalogue delivered with pattern samples and a typed letter (not scanned yet). 51 pages plus supplements and order forms.

How To Rewax Your Barbour Jacket

Reprinted from "Trout Fisherman" magazine. This is circa 1974-1982 since the tin of wax has only one crest. "The process itself is more of an art than a science."

1953 Barbour Catalogue Preview

I guess that I'll keep posting previews of the catalogs until I get the scanner up. This catalog is 51 pages and came with a pricing supplement and several order forms. There's a small section for household items like rolling pins and a "cottage toasting fork". It still has the original string on the corner too.

1960 Motorcycle Trial

Pamphlet from Motorcycle Show in UK 1960

Again, just an iPhone picture for now, until I get the scanner up and running.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Barbour Family Matters

Taken from, "Sorry, They Didn't Leave a Number: A Guide to Barbour Country" (2007). This page helps determine the age of your Barbour jacket, if it is old, but "new to you". The Royal Warrants were given in 1974, 1982 and 1987.

Kemwall Hot Filling Machine / Barbour Wax Thornproof. S.C.Packaging Tech...

1971 Barbour Ad

Taken from the "Scottish Annual & Braemar Gathering" publication, 1971. Awesome.

1967-68 Catalogue Preview

Barbour Catalogue 1967-68 with the Motorcycle Wear Supplement. These are just iPhone pictures. I'll scan them and everything else at some point and post them here.