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Report: Zipper Slider

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March 26, 2008

Mr. Ric Gillespie
Executive Director
TIGHAR
2812 Fawkes Dr.
Wilmington, DE, 19808

Dear Ric:

I must first of all thank you for the opportunity to view and analyze this zipper “slider” artifact which may well be associated with the Amelia Earhart 1937 flight. I have analyzed the slider both visually and dimensionally, listing the findings in table below. Please note that for comparison purposes I am listing the dimensions (in inches) of a couple other present day zipper sizes which may provide some insight into the relative sizes then and now.

Slider Analysis

Zipper Size
Slider
Zipper Chain
Mouth Width
Mouth Height
Double Chain Width
Double Chain Thickness
No. 06 (Earhart Artifact)
.240
.102
.234
.094
No. 05 & 06 (Modern Talon)
.242
.100
.233
.093
No. 42 (Modern Talon)
.170
.091
.165
.086

zipper illustration

Observations:

Basically,  the artifact is identified as a Brass Size 06 Autolock Slider. The brass alloy is probably close to today’s standard which is 87% Copper and 13% Zinc. It is amazing how well the slider withstood the elements over the many years of salt and environmental exposure. More severe oxidation would have been expected.

Attachment AI have gone through my collection and sifted out all the size 06 zippers which fall into this general time period. I do not find an absolute, 100% match to this artifact. However, I do find an exact match to the slider body and cap except for a “Made In USA” stamping on the bottom side of the body. The pull is bell shaped rather than rectangular, but that should be insignificant since all sliders were assembled with varying pull designs. It would appear that Talon started stamping Made in USA on the bottom side of some sliders around 1938. This particular zipper was identified as having been made in 1938. It also has a die cast separating end which appears to have been invented in 1936 or 1937. Since there is no marking on the bottom of artifact slider, we would be inclined to believe that this slider was made sometime before 1938. Please note Attachment “A” which illustrates the automatic lock slider as it appeared on October 16, 1933. This resembles exactly the slider, including a bell pull, mounted on the sample enclosed for your use. The artifact pull is of course rectangular; however, it is unique in that it is very neatly stamped with chamfered edges on both the top and bottom. I could not find another pull like this on any other sample. To me this would indicate that slider was from an early vintage of this new automatic lock design.

I am enclosing 4 other brochures from this time period which will give you some insight into what was happening during this 1930’s time period. Attachment “B” demonstrates the products being marketed on May 23, 1932. Note that the autolock slider was not yet invented. Attachments “C” & “D” indicate what was going on in the market place in 1929. Attachment “E” advertises Talon’s move into the trouser market in 1935.

Attachment B
Attachment C
Attachment D
Attachment E

Conclusions:

I believe that it is reasonable to conclude that the slider artifact was most likely manufactured during this 1933 to 1938 time period and that it is reasonable to conclude that it could have been available in the market place for consumer use prior to Amelia Earhart’s 1937 flight. It would be impossible to establish an exact time of manufacture because we don’t have the rest of the puzzle which is the zipper chain. But the fact that it is not a modern day slider and that artifacts like this just don’t show up on a distant island unless someone deposits them there or they wash ashore, lends credence to your investigation. Certainly there were not natives running around on the island in the 1930’s wearing zippered garments.

Of course the other question is, if this is in fact an actual artifact from Amelia Earhart’s flight, where was the zipper being used? The size 06 aipper is considered to be a medium to heavy duty product. This could include heavy duty work clothing, jackets, airplane baggage vent, and etc., see Attachment “D”. For Amelia, it could have been in a jacket. However, for the navigator it could have been in a jacket or heavy duty trouser.

I wish you and your group the best of luck in your continuing efforts to solve this most exciting mystery. I hope that this information will provide another possible link toward that end. Please let me know if you have any questions or if can be of further help.

Thomas L. Allison
2310 Monticello Dr.
Gastonia, NC 28056

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