1952 Osborne Coinage Carabiners
Osborne Coinage 1952 Carabiner
After some internet research and a half dozen emails to military historians, old company representatives, service veterans, and even eBay sellers; I finally have pieced together some information on a these vintage aluminum ovals I acquired from the personal collection of a retired Air Force officer.
This information is largely made up of personal recollections and vague company data due to the almost total lack of written documentation from some of the companies that held government contracts over 60 years ago. The information came to me via personal correspondence I have decided to leave out names and contact information. I have saved all the original emails and sources.
I don’t know why these carabiners inspired such a curious quest. Maybe it was some personal connection I felt with the previous owner and the interesting story he told me when I acquired them. Maybe it was that I had always wished I had been able to go work in Antarctica. Whatever the reason, I started sending out emails about 10 months ago and some of the responses took a long time to come in, some were forwarded on to friends or former co-workers for additional comments or better answers. This is the result.
My thanks to all the folks who offered memories and opinions and a special thank you to my fellow veterans for your service.
Summary of the items history:
The carabiners were the personal issue of a gentleman who was a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force from the late 40’s through the mid 60’s. He was assigned to Materials Command (post not cited) and attached to support Operation: Deep Freeze when they were issued to him.
Deep Freeze was the initial code name for all US operations in the Antarctic from 1954 on to fairly recently. Air Force Materials Command assisted with supply, weather forecasting, and airborne transportation on these missions.
These carabiners were made to a slightly different specification than the commonly available steel military carabiners. They were larger, lighter, and supposedly less prone to freezing shut.
The four carabiners were used on two separate missions originating out of Christchurch, New Zealand primarily for securing equipment and personnel in cargo holds. (Types of ships or aircraft were not noted by the previous owner.) Later they were used on climbs in New England and the Canadian Rockies. They show relatively little wear and the owner stated, “(they )…never held a fall! Because you just didn’t do that…”. About 1970 they were stored and not used again.
Osborne Coinage only manufactured this specific type of carabiner for a short time (dates unavailable) and never in any great quantities. One company representative said, “…we would receive production quotas and work to that… After the rush of World War Two production was tightly controlled and the days of the blank check were over…” He also remembered that, “(They) mostly went to a depot in San Diego…” and “I think our contact was a major… maybe Air Force… maybe Navy…”
Osborne Coinage also made military coins and dog tag blanks. They made some other items that my contact was not directly associated with and was unsure about. (possibly clips for attaching equipment to web belts and clips for helmet liners but that’s just a guess)