Sorry for the delayed reply—we had both Ken Boche and Dennis Hennek visiting here over the weekend, so, haven't been online to check emails till now.
I wish I could be of more specific help, but, am happy to pass on the little bits I know (and can remember or verify) in case it might help with your project in some small way.
My first job at Great Pacific Iron Works (it was then called, though officially, it "distributed" Chouinard Equipment) was to fulfill catalog requests starting in October 1974, and, the catalog then was the Chinese watercolor-cover one, which included Doug Robinson's treatise on clean climbing. I know that it is considered to be the "1972" catalog, but, in those days, the company never really had the money to print a new catalog every year, which also explains the somewhat random collection you probably have, the lack of dates printed on them, and, seemingly-different versions of the same catalog. A way to get around the big expense of producing a new catalog was, to do those seasonal flyers as sort of updates to "hold over" until a new catalog could be produced. There was nothing "scheduled" or "regular" about any of it though... Thus, that '72 version—with a few additions/subtractions (and, you'd really have to dig into an archive in the sky to know the exact order of those changes—I'm not sure who, exactly, produced that catalog, or even who would know anymore—was stlll being sent out at least 2 years later, and, on into the fall of 1975, when a whole new catalog was produced. Possibly Vincent Stanley, Yvon Chouinard's nephew now in charge of "Patagonia Philosophy" might know and remember more details about the '72 catalog. Also possibly Roger McDivitt, who was the General Manager at the time (I could try to contact them about this if you want, or, let them know you're interested so you can contact them directly?). Kris McDivitt Tompkins was my immediate boss, and was responsible for catalog production before I took over, so she may recall some details, too. Pencil indications of required changes (I describe, below) were hers, and it was my job to get them implemented. The initial "1975" catalog had Tom Frost's photo of Machapuchare on the cover. I have two versions of it myself. So, I compared the two page by page, and these are the changes that led to a few conclusions that you may have already arrived at yourself. In case not, here they are:
Machapuchare I (1st edition 1975): P. 5 History of Chouinard Firsts list ends at "1975" [NANCY NOTE: a dead giveaway that this is the first version of the 1975 catalog]
Machapuchare II (2nd edition 1977): P. 5 History of Chouinard Firsts list ends at "1977" and has additions of the 1976 Model Zero Ice Axe, and North Wall Hammer, plus, the 1977 pile fabric clothing and featherweight carabiner.
P. 27 Interesting to note that in this page's footnote, the future tense is used after "In the summer 1975... will be increased..." regarding changes in UIAA requirements. NANCY's NOTE: I thought this catalog came out in late summer or early fall of 1975... but... either I am mistaken and it was much earlier in that year, or, this footnote was simply copied from elsewhere and not caught in the proofreading stage? It was definitely not caught in proofreading of the second edition, "Machapuchare II" which came out in 1977—with the same 1975 footnote, unchanged as "future tense."
Machapuchare I (1st edition 1975) BACK COVER: The return address only lists "chouinard equipment" under THE GREAT PACIFIC IRON WORKS umbrella of "Manufacturers and Distributors of.."
Additional notes about Machapuchare I: the copy I have has penciled-in changes and the position indicators (that were then communicated to the graphic artist who made the changes), for the foamback raingear spread, further demonstrating that it came first. These changes are reflected nearly exactly in the later edition, Machapuchare II. Also, though some clothing was sold in this catalog, none had the name patagonia yet attached to it,. In fact, "Chouinard Cord and Wool Trousers" are listed on P. 84.
Machapuchare II (2nd edition 1977) P. 5 List of firsts, mentioned above P. 7 Featherweight carabiner added, replacing the "rappel system" text and illustrations P. 25 Waterproof rope removed, image replaced with another P. 34-35 This 2-page spread is new in this edition (runners and how to use them) P. 41 Northwall Hammer and Model Zero Ice Axe replace the Keathley Ice Axe Sheath. Chouinard Frost Piolet name shortened to "Chouinard Piolet." P. 47 Salewa Tubular Screws and Salewa Spiral are replaced with "Chouinard Tubular Screws" and "Chouinard Wart Hog" and in the older (1st edition) catalog, I have penciled-in instructions that say "Our tube screws" and indicate that the Salewas are to be replaced on that page in this 2nd edition. P. 48 Use of Pitons has been re-written, as per the penciled instruction in the 1st edition on that page P. 52 Shoenards replace Molitor Boots formerly on this page, as per pencil instructions in 1st edition P. 71 Baltoro pack replaces "Goat-Nepal" photo, as per pencil instruction in 1st edition P. 74 Creag Dubh and Teardrop packs replace the "Fish Pack" and "Arete VBLl" from 1st edition... as per pencil instruction P. 76 Patagonia Pile 2-page spread added. This is the first "mention" of "patagonia" in the name of any product. Note that on P. 82, the climbing pants are still named "Chouinard Climbing Pants" and they don't even appear in the 1st edition.
BACK COVER: "and patagonia software" has been added to the return address... the first branded inklings of Patagonia!
So, the 1972 catalog covered years 1972-1975, the 1975 catalog went from 1975-1977, and then a modified version of it came out in 1977. 1978 brought a new cover image, Cerro Torre by Ruedi Homberger, and two editions of that catalog as well, which lasted until the 1980 catalog published in September 1980. No new catalogs were produced again until 1982, but in 1981, a "split" was produced: two separate catalogs, one for Chouinard Equipment, and one for Patagonia Software, each pretty much like its own section in the original 1980 catalog. Also, you're right: there were several "spring flyers" along the way, notably in both 1979 (small square, of Patagonia clothing, with shots taken in Bishop, CA), and a "blueish tinted" one that came out in early 1981. There was another huge fold-out one along the way, that I believe might have been in very early 1980 or, more likely, late 1979.
Cerro Tore i (1st edition, 1978) Almost the same layout/graphics as the previous 1975 & 77 catalogs, but, the cover is not as thick, and, it has a glossy finish. The interior pages of this edition are like a less-expensive bond paper; the later version has a finer, thicker paper and coated finish (must've started to make some money by then!).
P. 34-35 The packs' names are listed without "chouinard" (creag dubh, teardrop) P. 49 Chouinard Piolet (the older bamboo version) P. 50 Northwall Hammer and Model Zero Ice Axe (older bamboo versions)
Cerro Tore II (2nd edition, 1978) NOTE: I'm not exactly sure when this would have been produced, but, I'm guessing that the first run was depleted (after all, it was the first new catalog in 3 years and catalog requests had been building steadily!) and, when a re-print order was submitted, a few small changes were made at that time. Thus, it most likely would have been late 1978, since a "Spring Flyer" came out in Spring 1979 so, it's unlikely that both would have been produced on top of each other.
P. 34-35 "Chouinard" added to the names of the two packs listed, creag dubh and teardrop P. 49 New Carbon-Glass Piolet replaces the older-version bamboo piolet P. 50 Carbon-Glass Northwall Hammer and Model Zero Ice Axe replace older-version bamboo NOTE: Oddly, the new carbon-glass ice gear is not listed in the P.3 "history of firsts" list. Perhaps the cost of changing yet another page was prohibitive, either timewise or spacewise? It appears that this new gear was ready NOW and might also have been the a reason to publish another 1978 catalog asap. Again, costs were kept at a minimum by re-using the same layout, type, photos, illustrations, etc.
The 1980 catalog, featuring a color photo of antarctic penguins, was finally printed and mailed out in September 1980. It still carried the Great Pacific Iron Works company name, but, the interior was split into two distinct sections: Chouinard Equipment and Patagonia Software. 1981 had no catalog produced, except a redux version of sections of the 1980 catalog, with a couple of different cover versions. I believe we kept running out of them, and, on reprinting, would make those kinds of small changes (eg, different cover photos). I think we still avoided using dates, since we never knew when we'd be able to get the next catalog out and needed to extend its usefulness as long as possible. So many factors were out of our control, as far as getting the actual clothing products in stock after designing them and having them made in places like Hong Kong. We were still very small, and didn't carry quite as much clout then. Thus, a still somewhat erratic publishing of semi-catalogs and flyers during those years.
I left the company in May 1982, and the woman who replaced me, Kathy Ryan, was the designer of the 1982 catalog which came out later that year. It was the first to actually accomplish what we'd all wanted to do for a very long time: feature large photos of the gear/clothes in use, with photos of the product alone (not on models) just lying on the page with a drop shadow—the very style they are famous for now. The problem earlier, when I was still there, was, no one seemed to be taking photos while climbing or otherwise using GPIW stuff (or not usable ones anyway)... Yvon just hated the model status quo, but, there was little choice at the time: we simply didn't have the images. We began to beg for submissions from the field with various offers... and, by 1982, when they finally started to trickle in, the rest became history.
Hope this helps. Even if it doesn't, it was an interesting exercise to unearth so many long-forgotten memories, so, thanks for the excuse!
Do let me know if you'd like some further input from those people I named, above. I can probably dig up some contact info for them...
I honestly was not expecting this totally awesome historical response, but now I love you! So I will give you the nutshell version what us collectors know about the catalogs. — 1972-74 same cover. But there may be 4 different price lists per year. — 1975-1977 same cover. May be 2 different price lists per year. (What is interesting is that in your comparison of your catalogs of Version I (75) and Version II (77), you did not notice the Hexcentrics on page 8 having lightening holes, so maybe you have what we call the 1976 version. Collectors identify the catalog differences this way: .1975 Hexcentrics are solid pg.8 .1976 Hexcentrics have lightening holes .1977 Featherweight Carabiner added to Firsts list 1977 — The 1978 catalog has same covers but Spring version (wood Piolets) and Fall (Carbon fiber Piolets). —The 1979 catalog I have is a copy of possibly a large foldout flyer. —1980 Spring were newsletters and there is a large Winter catalog (penguins).
So you answered the question as I figured you would. Chouinard catalogs were produced on a “needed” basis, over a year to year general order which came about in 1982. I am still working to prove my 12 different price lists theory on the 1972-1974 catalogs. So far 7 different price lists have surfaced.
— For years 1975-1977, was there only one catalog per year created? Or was there a Spring price list and a Fall price list for each of the years, making 6 price lists total?
Thank you so much for your memories. Your historical memory about these catalogs is spot on! Is it okay if I bump our conversation onto the Chouinard Gear thread? This is great history for the future generations to read.
Marty~ Haha, glad my sketchy memory had some value after all!
I did finally get a chance to read through the SuperTopo thread on Chouinard Mystery Gear... wow! That's a huge amount of work, putting together all that history—amazing job! I can add a few more bits here, but, not sure if they are significant for your project, but, you can decide that. Your museum sign on the exhibit, taken from one of the flyers, is artwork done by Debi Nowak-Hawkes. She was the graphic artist who did most of the work from late 1976 onwards, through, at least, the 1982 Spring flyer. (She also created the actual Patagonia logo, though Jocelyn Slack did the Fitzroy illustration that is also famous. Debi, however, is the one who put it all together. I worked with her on the type selection, and, the lower case "p.), and I believe its first use was on the pile clothing labels, circa 1977. We ended up coming to her after a somewhat disastrous attempt to use an ad agency in Ventura, who "didn't understand us" at all. They were the ones who produced a sort of strange, very large fold-out product flyer, probably around 1976-early 1977, but, it is not the one you have pictured on the ST thread. That one was done by Debi Nowak-Hawkes under my "art direction" I guess you could say (I was the liaison between what the company/sales reps/Yvon wanted, and the artists/photographers who produced it in the form of those flyers, ads, and finally, the catalogs until I left in 1982).
As for the hexentrics, you're right: the 2nd edition Machapuchare catalog I have DOES show a different/replacement photo of the hexes with lightening holes, as well as the insertion of added copy on the next page (p.9)—a simple sentence in the last paragraph about Hexentrics #8-11 "...now drilled with lightening holes." I just missed it! As for the possibility of a 1976 version of this catalog, I have no recollection, except to say that whenever we ran out, we ordered a new printing from the printer (who had all the film/plates on hand), with small changes as necessary (like the hexes, and, probably the price lists that are driving you crazy!). I must point out, once again, that there really wasn't anything very "regular" about it, though there were attempts to come up with seasonal updates, and, those did correspond with trade shows and seasonal buyer demands from the dealers, more or less. While I was with the company, wholesale dealers were top priority, and mail order was sort of an aside. Yvon wanted one place where someone could access everything the company sold, since most dealers couldn't stock every single thing. As the company—and its mail order list grew (and even became computerized under my very own watchful eye) this situation resulted in a mini tug-of-war between reps who felt that mail order undermined dealers. Yvon was firm, but, mail order, to my own amazement (since it seemed obvious to me that the production-cost to sell-price was far greater in retail than wholesale, though without the volume) was always relegated to a lesser concern. The workaround I suggested (because mail order was my baby!) was, to list every dealer in the catalog, and say, "if you can't find what you want at your local dealer, order from us by mail." That seemed to quiet the rabble... ;-)
When I left the company, I gathered together some samples of things I had actually worked on, which might explain why I only have the two Machapuchare catalogs I mentioned, a few flyers, the two "1978" catalogs, and the 1980 catalog, among other assorted things like lots of equipment ads (which may be of interest to you? I could scan them if you want... I don't think they have dates on them, though they are all from the era of about 1977-82). I'm guessing that either I thought that the 1976 catalog you have was not significantly different, or, I didn't feel, at the time, that the changes were significant enough to "keep" as examples of my work there (eg, just a few price list changes). I was not a climber myself, though I spent years counting each of those pieces of hardware for both inventory purposes and retail mail order shipping, and, determining "fault" for replacing broken stuff (especially crampons!). My own perspective was more that of the graphics & printing side of the catalog, and, unfortunately, I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to the minute gear changes (except later, when I had to write some of the advertising copy).
Since writing to you, I've been pondering some of the memories all this research has drummed up, so, I thought I'd add a few more notes that might be of interest (though nothing you'd put in a museum—just some perspective that might be of some value). I noticed some questions about the Climaxe on the ST thread... and can at least add this: the Climaxe was assembled right there in the Tin Shed in Ventura—the heads were attached to the handles that were dipped in vats of linseed oil, as were the other hammers, Yosemite and Alpine (I remember a particular fondness for that smell!), but I'm not the one who can answer where the heads came from (Italy? or?). The late Tom Dixon was the "hammer man" while I worked there, though several other "names" went before, like, Tony Jesson for one that I recall. As the mail order shipper, I had to beg for some of the equipment to fulfill orders, since Tom only worked part time and supply was as erratic as his schedule, which, I suspect, had a lot to do with whether or not the surf was up. On April 15, 1975, he left a huge pile of brand new Climaxes on my shipping bench with a note saying, "you wanted Climaxes, you got 'em!" (and yes, double-entendre intended in our early-twenties flirting days!). I recall the exact date because I know it was the day of Julio Varela's—the Argentine machinist par excellence who worked miracles there— 25th birthday party, at Yvon's house.
Meanwhile, I've sent an email to Roger McDivitt, who was the General Manager when I was there. I explained your project, and gave him the link to the ST thread. I'm pretty sure that if anyone would remember hardware change details, where it was coming from, and possibly even when, it would be Roger. He may not get back to me right away... but... I also included your email address in case he wanted to communicate with you directly. I did ask permission to send you his email address as well, so, we'll see how he responds. The other person, as mentioned before, who might be able to fill in some of the blanks would be Vincent Stanley, reachable at Patagonia, in Ventura (I don't have his direct contact info).
Well, hope this helps. And of course you can add whatever you want of this conversation to the ST thread (hoping there aren't too many typos though!).
There is no rush for my project. This Chouinard Supertopo thread is the developing Chouinard history museum, and I am glad that it is becoming a reunion with past Chouinard work employees. The museum at the AZ Hiking Shack featuring Chouinard products is a display that will last for two+ years. I am putting the display together as I work on this Chouinard thread.
You answered one of my questions showing that Chouinard did receive newer Climaxes in 1975, and that the handles were attached in Ventura, CA. A few more Climaxe mysteries still remain. Who put the Bamboo handles on the Climaxes if Chouinard only used hickory, and did Chouinard produce the Climaxes for Europe in Ventura, then put Camp mfg stickers on the handles, and then ship the Climaxes back to Europe? In 1974 Chouinard Drops cost of Climaxe to $12.00 because many of them are flawed. If newer Climaxes were available in 1975 why did cost never go up? In 1977 Climaxe still only $12.00.
So history changes!!! This is where collectors cheer but at the same time throw cabbage and tomatoes (because the foundation was just crumbled). Only two Chouinard catalogs were produced between 1975-1977. But when additional catalogs were needed to be printed, changes if needed were made in the newer editions. If we knew how many catalog printings were made between 1975-1977, that may show how many different versions there are out there.
Another mystery is a 1970 Chouinard catalog that was mailed and has a post office date on it of April 1969. Roger will be fun to talk to. Thanks!
Great stuff! Now back to work, Coursesetting at the Phoenix Rock Gym! Climb, Climb, Climb.....It's a living!