A Liberty Scarf, and the Value of Not Being Unusual

I bought this Liberty of London scarf at the Metrolina Flea Market several weeks ago.  I pulled it out of an overflowing box of scarves because the print was practically yelling “Liberty!”  Although it is not terribly old, it has that wonderful British Arts and Crafts-William Morris-Art Nouveau look about it.  And that is what Liberty is all about.

One thing some on-line sellers love to say about their items is that they are “rare.”  I also read the word “unusual” a lot in descriptions.  Of course most of the time the item is not rare at all.  But what about the items from a known designer or company that are truly unusual?

As an example, I love the sportswear designs of Tina Leser, but occasionally I run across a suit designed by her.  They are quite rare, but does that alone make them desirable?  For my part, I’d much rather have a well designed play ensemble than an awkward-looking suit made by a person unaccustomed to designing suits.  You don’t go to LL Bean for a bridal gown any more than you would go to Vera Wang for hiking boots.

For a person or institution who collects only garments from Tina Leser, the suit would be a very nice find, but for those of us who want an example of the designer at her best, we would rather have the more common playsuit or bathing suit.  If I have a scarf from Liberty, I want it to look like a Liberty print.

It is often the quintessential design that is most valuable.  Liberty scarves in the famous Peacock Feather print always fetch a nice sum on ebay.

If anyone knows the name of this print, I’d be eternally grateful if you would share it with me.

25 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Viewpoint, Vintage Clothing

25 responses to “A Liberty Scarf, and the Value of Not Being Unusual

  1. I saw a polyester 60s dress (no special designer’s tag in it) described as rare recently online and I just could not understand what place in the universe the person who described it as such was coming from.

    That scarf is beautiful, and I completely understand how the print caught your eye. Another wonderful find, Lizzie!

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  2. Love this! I have a liberty, but it is more of a modernist print – looks almost like Calder or something. No idea about the print, but I’m doing research for my own scarf collection. I”ll keep my eyes peeled :)

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  3. I love this print. A wonderful example of a vintage liberty scarf. Beautiful!

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  4. This is marvelous!! I can see pairing it with some Egyptian archeologist-esque outfit.

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  5. maureen

    love it! love william morris, love liberty. and your blog.

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  6. maureen

    and i think the flowers are poppies

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  7. A search through my Liberty books drew a blank as to the exact name unfortunately but I’m wondering whether this print might have been part of Liberty’s 1960s ‘Lotus Collection’. These were redrawn and recoloured versions of Art Nouveau prints, updated for the time. If you have The House of Liberty book, you’ll see a couple of prints very similar in style, most particularly one, unnamed in the book, used in a dress by the Fontana Sisters (p172); and the other, ‘Aubrena’, which was re-issued a few years ago but doesn’t seem to be around anymore. If you don’t have the book, I can email you pics.

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    • Thanks for this. I do not have that book, but I did find a photo of six dresses from the 1960s Lotus collection in “Liberty: A Biography of a Shop”. I do believe you could be correct. It was my feeling that the scarf is from the 60s.

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      • I have the Biography book but can I find it when I need it?! Of course not… I have however just found your scarf in an orange colourway featured in Nicky Albrechtsen & Fola Solanke’s Scarves book (p109), but all they say in the caption is “Liberty, silk, 1950s, possibly based on a Harry Napper textile print for the 1890s”. So, still no title unfortunately, but we’re zeroing in on it, however vaguely!

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        • You are a marvel! I don’t have that book, but see now that I probably should get it, right?

          In the Biography book there is an example of a Napper print, and my suspicion is that this one is also his work.

          Thanks!!

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  8. Susan

    Hi! Its not in any of my Liberty materials either. I would suggest you email Liberty and ask them, they can be very helpful. About 6 yrs ago my brother emailed them about a Tana Lawn print and they mailed him color photo copies of all the classic and current seasonal Tana lawn prints.

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  9. Ah, love a good Liberty scarf. I have quite a number of them myself. As a Horrockses collector i always feel this, what are actually rare are their plain evening dresses, where very few of them were produced. But it always the mass produced floral ones which are described as rare, yet in their day there would have been many more. Oh those are the ways : )

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  10. ourdailydress

    I really like your point about not buying something because it’s rare- why is rare always good? If it was so good they would have probably mass produced them!

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  11. Gorgeous scarf. I can’t add anything regarding a designer or pattern name, but I found it in a blue/gray/pink colorway here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/41057929/elegant-all-silk-liberty-of-london-scarf

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  12. Heather

    Hi,
    I have the same scarf if blue and brown. Just wondering if you ever found the pattern name?

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  14. UPDATE: I got an email from Diana at Past Pieces Vintage. She has found this scarf in a book, Scarves, by Nicky Albrechtsen and Fola Solanke. According to the book, “Liberty, silk, 1950s, possibly based on a Harry Napper textile print from the 1890s.”

    Thanks so much Diana!

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