Authentic Surplus: British Army Ditty Bag

A report on a fantastic find from Abandonista Emeritus, Wendy Joffe! This is a British Army ditty bag, or kit bag, if you will.  Initially I made two incorrect assumptions:  1) It’s Royal Navy, and 2) it’s made from muslin.  Absolutely wrong on both counts.  The Navy ditty bags made at this time are a […]

Safari Shorts

Featured on the back of the 1980 Catalogue No. 4, the first appearance of what were then called British Safari Shorts, original surplus 25-40 years old. These were the precursors to Banana Republic’s very popular, long-running Gurkha Shorts. From the collection of Mel and Patricia Ziegler, gifted to Abandoned Republic.

Swedish Naval Pea Coat

Here’s a very cool piece of authentic surplus that came up on eBay, a Naval Pea Coat. Originating from Sweden, not the three crowns on the buttons and the word “Storlek” (size in Swedish). This is not in the catalogue as far as we can tell, it has the original price tag and the Discovered […]

Canadian Army Winter Pant

From the Winter 1984 Catalogue: “We had to buy some airplane parts and dented K-rations in order to get these marvelous Canadian Army pants. (Frankly, we’d have even bought a few tanks if it was the only way to get these pants.) Every imaginable amenity here: expert seaming, concealed button flap pockets, thoughtful suspender buttons. […]

Surplus Swiss Military Gaiters

Wendy Jofee writes: “I purchased these (Leather Traveling boots) from the original owner, who says she wore them only a couple of times.  When she bought them, a store employee suggested the “straps” as well, since they were an addition popular with the customers.  I figured they must be gaiters of some sort, perhaps military […]

Swedish Watering Can

We are very lucky (and more than a little jealous!) that Wendy Joffe found this hidden gem on eBay. This rare surplus item, offered only in Summer 1984, is identifiable as a BR item only still with the tag on it. From the catalog: “The Swedes who made them must have had some use or […]

Australian Puttees

Photos from an expired eBay auction, these 1942 surplus Australian military wool “Puttees” were sold in Banana Republic stores with the “Discovered by Banana Republic” tag on them. These are the wraps that soldiers wear around their forelegs and are still widely available. More about Puttees here. This last photo is not of a Banana […]

Blitz Jacket

From the 1980 Winter Catalogue: “Twenty five years ago, Her Majesty’s tailors outdid themselves when they made this splendid garment. They created a front closure which tidily conceals the buttons, a collar which stands up easily and hooks shut if so desired, a buckle which closes off to the waist, and epaulets with buttons that […]

British Mine Laying Glove-Updated

After years of not knowing, this piece has finally been identified as the “British Mine Laying Glove”. This unique piece of military surplus was sold in Banana Republic Travel & Safari stores but was not featured in the catalogue. It is mentioned by name and item number in a 1987 Communiqué employee newsletter wherein a […]

Chief Petty Officer’s Wool Shirt

This heavy wool shirt came up for sale on eBay in 2011 and for the longest time I couldn’t identify it. Now that I have a more complete catalogue collection I believe it to be the surplus Chief Petty Officer’s Wool Shirt from the 1983 Fall catalogue: “The U.S. Navy’s Chief Petty Officers are generally […]

1951 Mercury Stockings

Some unusual surplus, not sold in catalogues, these (presumably) Korean War era surplus nylon stockings came in in various sizes in striped paper bags. Marked MERCURY 1951 and tagged with “Discovered By Banana Republic”.

British Binocular Case

From the 1987 Holiday Catalogue: “When scanning horizons for enemy troops during World War II, British soldiers peered through field binoculars they kept in canvas cases. The fittings are pure brass, the thick, reinforced canvas is sturdy but lightweight, and the shoulder strap is widened at the top for comfort. Will hold a camera, eyeglasses, […]

French Army Ice Boots

More truly unusual True Surplus, Discovered By Banana Republic: Can you imagine finding these in a store at the mall and taking them home? From a recent eBay auction Vintage Circa WWII – 1950’s French Military Ice Boots ~ Banana Republic–JJ Chabrat / Bordeaux Up for sale is a pair of vintage French military cleated […]

Swiss Infantry Pouch

This item was not in the catalogue, so I couldn’t resist trying my hand at making artwork and copy for it. UPDATE: I did find what is probably our pouch in the Winter 1984 catalogue after all, labeled “Swedish Belt Pouch”. I’m not 100% sure it’s the same. It looks mostly right, but the markings […]

NATO Fatigues

  Interesting surplus items show up all the time that were not listed in the catalogue but were sold in stores because they were available in more limited quantities. Not so these NATO fatigues, sold in 1986 and found in what must have been somewhat large numbers to justify featuring them on the page. Complete […]

True Surplus: Swedish Bandolier

A favorite item is the Authentic Swedish Bandolier.  Banana Republic was selling these “authentic relic” surplus bandoliers in their catalogs from Holiday 1984 until Fall 1985. UPDATE: Discovered the Bandolier was offered as early as 1979!! See below.  From the catalog: “One never has enough pockets on safari. This leather bandolier with canvas insets offers […]

True Surplus: RCAC Jacket

This is a nice piece of authentic military surplus that was not featured in the catalog, presumably due to more limited quantities. A beautiful wool with silk lining women’s uniform jacket from the RCAC-Royal Canadian Army Cadets, a youth ROTC-type program of the Canadian Army. Complete with price tag and “Discovered By Banana Republic” tag, […]