Lady Manhattan, Part II

I’ve spent a great deal of the past three days looking for ads for Lady Manhattan, but I’ve not found a single one in my fashion magazines in the years between 1953 and 1962.  They did advertise, as there are ads for sale on ebay (something I really do not understand) but maybe they were placed in regular women’s magazines like Good Housekeeping or McCall’s.

One thing that made me think my silk blouse was later 1950s was that a 1954 ad I saw on ebay  had a facsimile label as part of the ad.  That label is the one you see above.  While I could not locate an ad in my magazines, I did happen upon a second Lady Manhattan blouse.

What is really interesting about this earlier Lady Manhattan shirt is that it is so similar in construction to a man’s casual shirt.  I’ve seen a lot of men’s shirts from the early to mid 1950s that have an open collar like my new lady’s shirt.  The fabric is a nice cotton shirting like you’d expect to find in a man’s shirt.

There is a chest (breast?) pocket, and the sleeves are inserted like those in a man’s shirt.

There is a placket for the cuff opening, something that is not usually seen in a woman’s blouse.  I was really surprised at the French cuffs.

The seams are flat felled, and are the smallest, neatest ones I’ve seen on a mid-priced garment.

If you look back at the later silk shirt, you can still see vestiges of a man’s shirt in the design.  The open neck collar, the French cuffs, and the curved hemline are almost identical to this cotton shirt.  But the fabric is softer, the pocket and cuff plackets are gone, and the seams are French.  It has the feel of a blouse rather than of a shirt.

I actually bought this piece to wear, as I’ve been looking for some prints to add to my mostly solid and striped wardrobe.   I found it in a fantastic vintage clothing booth in an antique mall in Taylors, South Carolina, which is in the Greenville area.   She also has an Etsy shop, Kate Dinatale Vintage.  It was such a pleasure finding a vintage store in my area where the items are beautifully presented and reasonably priced.

UPDATE:

And finally, here is the full view.  And today while rummaging through my button box, I found a forgotten pair of mother of pearl cuff links.

 

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Lady Manhattan Silk Blouse, 1950s

I recently found this silk blouse at my not-so-secret shopping place.  Because I can’t seem to pass up a great separates piece and because I did not already have a piece with this label in my collection, I decided to take it home with me.  Plus, I just loved the modern, graphic look of the print.

The Manhattan Shirt Company was a maker of men’s shirts.  The company dates back to 1867 and was, interestingly enough, headquartered in Paterson, New Jersey.  By the early twentieth century the company owned or leased eight mills which produced men’s shirts of various types.  In 1912 Manhattan Shirt was incorporated in New York, and continued to be a major producer of shirts.

According to the United States Trademark Office database, Lady Manhattan was first produced in 1953.  The application for the trademark states that the label was used not just for women’s shirts and blouses, but also dresses, skirts, sweaters, pajamas, jackets,  trousers, and shorts.   Nevertheless, most items seen today with this vintage label are blouses or shirts, though I’ve also seen shirtdresses and skirts.

It’s my guess that this blouse dates to the mid to late 1950s.  I’ve been looking for ads, and while I did not find this blouse, there are several ads for sale on ebay for similar styles in silk, all dating between 1957 and 1960.  Later on in the Sixties, Lady Manhattan, like so many companies, abandoned their use of natural fibers for the “easy case” dacron, nylon and blends.

A word about the trademark database is in order.   Ten years ago, back in the very early days of the Vintage Fashion Guild’s Label Resource, a seller on ebay disputed some of the information we had included.  She said that what we had written about some company was wrong because of what was on the trademark database.  It was a fairly well documented company, so we had no trouble backing our information, but it did bring to light a very interesting point.

Just because the database contains official government documents does not mean that there cannot be errors in it.  The information for each application is supplied by the company making the application, and in some cases it is many years after the first use of the name.  I can just picture some junior staff member being handed the application to fill out, and his quest to gather the information from other people in the office.  I’m sure there have been a lot of educated guesses over the years.

It’s like any other source.  It’s always best to have a second source to verify information, especially when it comes to dates.

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Value of a Blog

 

There are several sites on the internet where a blogger can answer a few questions and provide a link to the blog, and the site will calculate how much the blog is “worth.”   Not that I’d ever sell The Vintage Traveler, but considering the time and energy I put into this blog, the price is a paltry amount.

The way I see it, the real value of a blog is what happens as a result.  In my case, I’m happy to be a part of a group of people who share my interest in and love of fashion history.   I like to think that we are adding to the body of knowledge that makes up that history.

I said “we” instead of “I” for a reason, as I consider the comments and feedback that are posted here to be as important as any original post that I happen to write.   I’ll freely admit that I often get it wrong in my assumptions, and I’m happy to be led to the truth by a reader.  And I’m always happy to let readers add to any story I might tell.

I’m saying all this because in the past week I’ve gotten two emails from valued readers and friends who feared they were “over-stepping” in their comments made here.  I want to assure anyone who posts at The Vintage Traveler that all comments are welcome (unless they are mean, but that’s another story).  I can tell you that I blogged for five years with only an occasional comment and I felt like I was talking to an empty room.  It is the interaction between the blog and commenters that gives added worth to the original writing.

So, thanks to all who take the time to read and comment (even snarky little brothers).

Another perk to writing a blog is meeting new friends.  Diana of Past Pieces Vintage was in Asheville recently with her friend, and we got together for a very fun lunch.   After talking here and on Instagram, it was like meeting an old, instead of new, friend.  Thanks again, Diana!

 

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Currently Reading – A History of the Paper Pattern Industry by Joy Spanabel Emery

The History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution by Joy Spanabel Emery is a book that fills a gap in fashion history research that has been needed for a long time.   Because of the multitude of companies, and the fact that they often sprang up, merged with other companies, or simply disappeared within a few years, tracking the industry has been somewhat difficult.

I’m going to start out by saying that this book is probably not for everyone, not even for everyone who sews and enjoys fashion history.  One thing I learned from teaching history to ten through twelve year-olds is that the most effective way to make history interesting is to concentrate on the story aspect.   In some cases this is simply not possible, and what Emery has produced is a straight-forward history with a minimum of story-telling.

While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that you have to want to be surrounded by lots of facts with very little  sense of a narrative.  Personally, I found the book to be of great interest because it cleared up so much about the history of sewing patterns, and also of the story of home sewing.

The book starts with the very earliest sewing patterns and goes through the present.  I found that the chapters on the 1920s through the 1960s were the most interesting, mainly because that is where my interest lies.

Of special interest were sections on designer patterns.  One thing I learned was that in 1925 McCall’s  began making patterns from Parisian designers that were faithful copies, not adaptations.  The only problem is that these were identified in the McCall’s magazine and in their pattern catalog, but not on the pattern envelope.  That means that it takes a large collection like the Commercial Pattern Archive (where Emery is curator) in order to identify these patterns by cross-referencing the patterns with the magazine copy.

The book is richly illustrated, which is a real strength.   Almost every key point in the book has a corresponding illustration.  Here you see on the left a 1941 Dubarry (which I learned was made by Simplicity for Woolworth’s) pattern, and on the right there is a photo of the dress made up.

I also learned about how like the clothing industry and Hollywood designers, the pattern companies had to really scramble after Dior launched his “New Look.”  One solution was to simply re-release a pattern in longer lengths as you can see in the above illustration.

For readers who love a challenge, the author has included gridded patterns for nine designs.  And there is a long list of references for further exploration.

Instead of putting the reference notes in a section at the end, the author opted to put them in the text.  While it is fairly easy to learn to just skip over the parentheses, it can be a bit annoying.  Or maybe that is just one of my personal pet peeves.

I do have to point out that I found one bit of misinformation, which would have gone unnoticed had I not been personally familiar with the topic.  Emery got the history of Folkwear patterns all wrong, saying that Kate Mathews was one of the original owners.  No, Kate bought the company in 2002, but was not originally involved in the formation of the company.  It’s really regrettable that such a mistake was made because it always causes one to doubt the rest of the  facts presented.  I’m hoping this was just a slip caused by the misreading of the company history on Folkwear’s website.

 

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler

It’s been a while since I did a shopping post, but that’s mainly due to the fact that I’ve not been able to do a lot of shopping lately.  But I’ve finally managed to get out a bit, and so can show you the things I thought were interesting, but that I did not buy.  The items are from a variety of local venues.

The picture above is a painted pillow cover.  I called it “Two lovers adrift.”

This beautiful 1920s box originally held fragranced soaps.

Here’s a potato chip can for The New Era Scientifically Processed Potato Chips.  The chips are so healthy that they are good for athletes.

They were made from that healthy substance, hydrogenated vegetable shortening.

This adorable little nautical shirt was made by Catalina, and was for a child.  How about that Breton shirt the sailor duck is wearing!

I’d never seen the label before, but it is similar to the labels Catalina used in the later 1950s.

Here’s a hat devoted to my favorite golf hole.

Being in the East (but not in Nashville) , I don’t see a lot of western wear, but these women’s pants were really nice.

Proof that there are still bargains to be found, these 1920s shoes were priced at $6!  The condition is better than my photos look, as the cracks are on the surface and would be covered with polish.

Here’s a new one on me – a hankie greeting card.  And the inside:

A shipboard romance triangle in the making…

And finally, I spotted this rack of dresses in a local antique mall.  I’ve learned from experience not to get too excited about a rack of clothing because they often contain the seller’s closet rejects.  But in this case the rack was full of 1930s and 1940s frocks.  You just never know.

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Ad Campaign – Ceeb of Miami, 1960

Thunderbird is the word!

For your sculptured Ceeb swimsuit… get inside this faille Lastex creation from Indian Summer Collection.  A vibrant hand screened print in gold or lilac combinations…For smashing coordinates, try the cotton skirt and the Italian straw hat with matching band and snood.

I find this ad to be a bit confusing.  I suppose the print is a bit “Indian” inspired, with the reference to Thunderbird and the fact that they called the collection “Indian Summer.”  But what’s with that sculpture (Is it African, or is it modern?) and the odd arm gestures?

I love that the ad shows the coordinating skirt and the hat with the matching band and Snood.  But who was still using the word “snood” in 1960?  Odd.

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Mid Twentieth Century Bathing Suit Cover Up

I’ll be honest, there are few things that get me as excited as seeing a fantastic vintage novelty print, especially one that has a beach theme.   Make that novelty print into a wonderful piece of sportswear and I’m moving into the thrilled category.  And to find out that this treasure is actually for sale, that registers into the ecstatic range.

Seriously, this print is about as good as it gets.   The hats, the suns, the waves, the sand!

And that’s not just a collar; that’s a hood.  The interior of the jacket is lined in the green.

Even the buttons are super, being covered with the same green fabric as the lining.

The maker was Ceeb of Miami.  Ceeb was a label of the Miami Sportswear Company, which was owned by Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Brasington and Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Rose.  (I wonder why C.B. got the label named after himself.)  The business is still in operation, and they still manufacture bathing suits in the USA.  According to their website the company was started in 1942, but the US Trademark Database says 1946, with the name being trademarked in 1949.

That means my jacket has to date after 1949, as the label tells us the name is registered.  The print looks early to mid 1950s.  I’m really tempted to take out part of the hem to see if the selvage is intact and if so, does it have any information printed on it.  The more I think about this, the more I want to do it.

Ceeb made a variety of “Florida” fashions including jumpsuits that were really bathing suits with capri length legs.  They could be quite fancy with shiny fabrics and sequins and such. Today their image is decidedly less sexy.

What really has me excited is that I’m sure that out there somewhere is a matching bathing suit.  It is there, I know it.  And I will find it.

You might be wondering how I found such a perfect object.  I found it by way of Instagram.  This has become my favorite way to find new things for my collection, as sellers usually post their new finds there even before they are offered for sale.  It’s like an auction preview, and with me at least, it is quite effective.

If you are a vintage seller, you really should be on Instagram.  It is an excellent way to not only show off things you have for sale, but also to give your business a personal face.  The Instagram accounts I find to be most interesting are the ones that feature the family dog, their garden, their travels, the sunsets.  Throw in some nice historical clothing and I’m ready to follow.

With Instagram, it’s important to remember to be social.  I really find it to be the most social of the big sites.  Perhaps it is because the great majority of photos posted are of a more personal nature (as compared to Pinterest and Facebook, where most of what you see is not original to the poster).  For whatever reason, it is a great place to post photos and get feedback.

For those of you who sew, there is a growing sewing “community” at Instagram as well.  People share tips and show off their patterns and projects.  It’s a lot of fun as well.

Beach jacket from DnJVinage.

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Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing