Someone dropped by searching for “1898 skeleton holster, not practical.”
I can think of two possible candidates, but both were eminently practical, and neither first appeared in 1898. For the most part, holster making did not emerge from the “leather funnel” state of development until contoured military holsters mad an appearance in the very late 1890’s.
But in the 1870’s Jim Gillete had a rig made much like a chain latch for the door. One of the action screws was replaced with a screw with an extended “button head,” and a piece of flat stock with a slot was riveted to the gun belt. This rig gave Gilette, and the few others who adopted a similar rig what amounted to a “swivel gun.” Now draw was necessary, just swivel the six-shooter and swivel your hips.
The second comes closer to being a “skeleton holster, and is from the early 1920’s. A border patrolman, Tom Threeperons, had that one made by cutting the leather over the trigger guard away until the entire trigger guard was uncovered. Of course, this allowed access to the trigger during the critical time when the gun is still pointed at the pisolero’s leg. While Tom Threepersons apparently had no problem with that arrangement, quite a number of hapless shootists managed to plug themselves, usually by trying to emulate Clarence Mulford’s Hopaling Cassidy.
The pictured Bucheimer “Federal Man” is not quite a Threepersons holster but clearing the rest of the trigger guard area would make it one.
There is a third possible candidate, the original Berns-Martin “clamshell” or “front break” holster. The revolver was retained by a safety strap, a powerful clamshell spring, and by “ledges” that grabbed the recoil shield and kept the weapon from being pulled up, out of the holster. A very quick motion of the hand unnnapped the safety strap, and a sweeping motion forward would pick up the revolver’s gri, and a bit more movement would snap the revolver out of the holster. The Berns-Martin was excelled as a speed holster, and riding high on the hip was hard to beat for an officer. I have a picture from shorpy.com of an Arizona deputy – ahhh..
There are probably more, but those are all I can think of that fit the description of a “skeleton holster. However Michel at the holster Site (the link is on the right) may be able to think of something.