I was surprised and very pleased to uncover this holster in the recent past. It is a US Model 1916 holster manufactured by the George Lawrence Company of Portland, Oregon. George Lawrence was an Irish immigrant and a well known saddle and harness maker who started his business in 1857. The company remained in the family as a holster and leather goods maker until it reached the end of its trail in the 1980s. The building where it conducted its operations for many years still stands in Portland and has been designated a historical landmark.
Lawrence is known to have manufactured M1907 rifle slings and M1918 rifle scabbards for the US Government during WW1. However, it has never been proven that Lawrence also made M1916 holsters for the Government during WW1. Over the years one or two other collectors had said to me that they had also heard of a M1916 Lawrence marked holster, but an example, or even photos of an example, proved to be as elusive as Big Foot. Before I came across this holster I had never seen another.
This holster closely conforms to the M1916 holster specifications. It is in solid, sound condition with all stitching intact.
Lawrence is not identified as a M1916 maker in Scott Meadows' seminal work on US Holsters. It has been out of print for about 20 years now and much information has been uncovered since it was published.
Of particular significance is the inspector marking of W.K.G. seen on the back side of the holster. Private purchase holsters would not have such a marking. The W.K.G. marking has also been been observed on some of the M1916 holsters made by the William H. McMonies Co. which was also located in Portland. Evidently this inspector, whose identity remains unknown, had inspection duties at both companies.
Why is this holster so scarce? I really don't know. Perhaps Lawrence was unable to fulfill large scale holster production requirements and lost the contract. Perhaps it was told to concentrate on the other leather products it was making during the War. Maybe Lawrence only made a small pilot run of holsters in an effort to secure a larger contract. Maybe it assigned its holster contract to McMonies to finish after making only a few pieces. All speculation.
The McMonies, Keyston Brothers and Brydon Brothers holsters have always been considered among the most difficult to locate for collectors of M1916 holsters. Given that I have encountered only this sole example over many years of US holster collecting I feel safe in saying that the Lawrence marked holster must be the scarcest of all WW1 USGI M1916 holsters.