Oilskin Coats and Jackets
Necessity is the mother of invention. I'm not convinced that is the whole story. My curiosity and desire to understand how things came about led me to discover some amazing stories. That need-to-know has convinced me that more than a few times, great things are invented by everyday people who are just looking for a niche to fill that makes them a living.
Although you may call that necessity because of the need to support ones self, but I believe that rule applies mostly to the necessity of a particular item, like a bread slicer. Such is my discovery about oilskin clothing. I'm sure most of us (I include myself) have never heard of oilskin or never paid attention to its attributes. However, cowboys, range riders, bikers and sailors know all-to-well not to be caught in stormy weather with out it.
The simplicity of this invention is amazing considering the speed it became a necessity in certain vocations. Oilskin has the ability to survive rough treatment from work environments that would ruin most other clothing, while being totally waterproof, windproof and warm. Oilskin coats have become the ultimate in harsh weather protection; sailors and bikers alike don't want to be caught without it, but let's get to the story behind this wonderful product.
Edward Leroy, a retiring sailor in the 1800's, decided to settle in Austrailia, thus the beginning of the invention of oilskin. Having had a lifetime of sailing, Edward lacked the skill sets needed to get hired in this new and wild Frontier. There had to be something he could do to earn a living. Many ships were replacing their worn and weathered canvas sails with new ones, and the old canvas was being discarded.
Edward discovered that if he soaked this old canvas in linseed oil, it renewed the canvas and made it waterproof and wind-resistant. Edward cut the "oilskin" canvas he had invented and sewed the pieces into capes. Sailors, on shore leave at the port near his home, eargly bought his capes in the hopes of some relief from the driving rains of the monsoon season.
Word spread quickly that Edward's capes could withstand the monsoon rains that wore down every sailor, keeping them warm and dry. Edward had created a lucrative niche business. It did not take long before this "Oilskin" product was shaped into actual coats and sold to Australian outback cowboys in need of the same protection. Tales were added, slits were put in the tails to allow the Long Coat to be comfortable while riding a horse, and tie-downs added to keep the wind from lifting them.
I doubt that Edward ever had a notion that is little invention that simply earned him a living would become so sought after throughout the world.Edward's original oil-soaked canvas has gone through many transitions, but the principle is still the same. Time has refined the process; modern ways of softening the material, more attractive finishes, and contemporary designs - but Edward's main priciple is the same.
The Oilskin coat has taken sailors and range riders through the roughest weather for over a century, and Bikers have made it the clothing of choice to carry when they travel light. There are many makers of Oilskin clothing, and a lot of imitations, but Australia still remains the quality producer of this wonderful material.
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