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Thompson Canvas Markings


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#1 The Moor

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 01:10 PM

Does anyone know if RUSCO (normally associated with commercial Thompson canvas items made in the 1930s) is the same company as R.M. Co (normally associated with military canvas items made in the early 40s.

According to "American Thunder" the R.M. Co is an abbreviation for Russell Manufacturing Company.

I have several canvas items (pistol belt and .45 double mag pouch) dated 1918 and marked Russell. The word Russell is in a circle. Then I have two pistol belts (one dated 1941, one 1942), one drum pouch (dated 1942), two Thompson USMC mag pouches (one XX dated 1942 and one XXX dated 1944) all marked with R.M. Co.. And lastly I have a XX five pocket pouch that is marked RUSCO with no date and a L drum pouch (with belt loop only) marked RUSCO which also has no date.

I think that all of these items were made by the same company. The Russell Company or later the Russell Manufacturing Company. Would like to have others opinions on this and any history on the Russell Company would be enjoyed by all here I am sure. I wonder if the Russell Company/Russell Manufacturing Company is the predecessor of the Russell Athletic Company of today.

Thanks,
The Moor
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#2 Bruce V 21/28

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 02:17 PM

I did some checking for you. I spoke with Joyce Knox of Russell Corporation, Alexander City, AL. According to her The Russell Corporation of Alexander City, AL. was established in 1902 but did not produce any canvas products for WWII and is not the same company as the R.M.Company. She did not have any information on the R.M. Company.

Bruce
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#3 The Moor

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 01:47 PM

Thanks Bruce. I have talked with some people in the city of Middletown, Ct. and have some information about the Russell company coming in the mail. In conversation over the phone with one lady, she said that she remembered the company in operation in the 60s but believed it closed shortly thereafter. The building(s) remain in Middletown and have not been demolished. According to this lady, the company was in existence since the 1800s and did manufacture equipment for the military during the times for both WWI and WWII.
So with this information, I think it is safe to assume that the circled (Russell) name found on some 1918 era web belts/pouches and the R.H. CO. marking found on web belts and pouches (including Thompson drum and stick pouches) in the early 1940s were all made by the same company. (probably made for military contract orders)
I'm hoping to determine if the 1930s era Thompson canvas cases, canvas spare parts and cleaning kits and canvas magazine pouches that are marked RUSCO, were made by the same company. (Probably made for commercial sales?)
Wonder why few, if any, Mills marked belts/pouches seem to have been made during the early 1940s compared to the rather large amount of belts/pouches made by the Russell Company in the early 1940s.
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#4 The Moor

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Posted 16 January 2004 - 10:32 AM

Most of you fellows probably already knew this, but I didn't and it was interesting and fun finding out this information.

Russell, RUSCO and R.M. CO. are all the same company that was located Middletown, Connecticut. My suspicions were confirmed by Dee Longly of the Middlesex County Historical Society and by Dean Nelson of the Museum of Connecticut History in Hartford.

A few interesting things that I learned:
Name/logo changed several times during the life of the company. There are probably records that will show approximate times of these changes but I have not gotten that information yet.
The Russell Company began operations in 1840s and ceased operations in 1960s.
The Museum has numerous sample cards of the material that Russell Manufacturing kept on file for its customers' specifications. The director indicated that they have several boxes of these and I suspect that there are sample cards for the Auto Ordnance corporation in there as well. The museum has a cartridge belt that is marked "assembled by the R.M. CO." indicating that they also assembled belts that were woven elsewhere.



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