Von Lengerke & Antoinne of Chicago History


The Von Lengerke & Antoinne, or V L & A, Partnership was formed in early 1891, and quickly became a very prominent Sporting Goods Retailer in Chicago Located ultimately at 335 Wabash Avenue in Downtown Chicago. The V L & A Partnership was formed as an extension of a New York Sporting Goods Retail Company known as Von Lengerke & DeMond which was started a short time prior to V L & A. At the same time, in New York, another prominent Sporting Goods Retailer was starting business in 1892 called Abercrombie & Fitch. The significance to this is for many years, from 1892 through 1938, these 2 retailers not only fought for market share catering to an upscale customer base, but both retailers also used the same motto "GREATEST SPORTING GOODS RETAILER IN THE WORLD".

Like Abercrombie & Fitch, the Von Lengerke & Antoinne products were from the finest manufacturers, and appealed to an upscale clientele. Pertinent to what we do, here are a few of the product lines they sold: H. H. Heiser, George Lawrence Company, Colt, and Winchester, among a large array of goods offered both through catalog ordering or by going to the retail store. In 1938, the V L & A Chicago Company after losing faith in the public eye was bought out by Abercrombie & Fitch, although they did operate under the V L & A name until the closing of the store in the early 1960s. The downfall of V L & A can be somewhat associated with their less than attractive history in Chicago from the late 1920s through the late 1930s when the company sold out.

In the late 1920s, with the coming depression Chicago was home to the Capone & Moran Gangs running liquor and crime in the city, and bringing with them a blood bath of murders during this time period.  The Von Lengerke & Antoinne or V L & A Chicago Company would have been on what was considered Al Capone's turf, and with V L & A selling firearms, holsters, ammunition etc. the store was frequently shopped by Capone gang members, and maybe even Big Al himself. On February 14, 1929 the St. Valentine's Day Massacre occurred at 2122 North Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois. 7 men were killed by machine gun fire by 5 of Al Capone's gang members. They later found 2 of the machine guns used in the massacre and through ballistics testing these 2 Colt Thompson Machine Guns were proven as the weapons used in the massacre. Later through serial number research, they were proven to have been sold by Colt, and delivered to Von Lengerke & Antoinne or V L & A Chicago.


Von Lengerke makers mark V L and A makers mark Von Lengerke makers mark Von Lengerke and Antoinne book stamp

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