Boulton & Paul, LTD., 1898 Catalogue

This is not normally the type of thing I pick up to buy, but it’s a Goodwill bins find (aka cheap) so I got it if for no other reason than to get a good look at how the late Victorians made sports a big part of who they were. I’m talking about well-to-do Victorians, of course.

I’d never heard of  Boulton & Paul, LTD. but it was a very old company by the time this catalogue was published, with its roots going back to 1797. And years after 1898 the company got into airplane manufacturing. They were, essentially, a metal works firm, and they made everything from pails to prefab houses in their huge factory in Norwich.

I was most interested in the sporting structures, but they were probably best known as a maker of iron and glass conservatories. My local Victorian mansion, the Biltmore Estate, has two such conservatories, one being built into the center of the house itself.

By 1898 beach bathing huts were losing favor, but you could still buy one from Boulton & Paul. I especially love the little bathing chalet, which I guess was an outdoor changing room for pool-side.

The bicycle craze was still in full force, so a few biking structures had to be included.

Of course, any decent British firm would have cricket and golf pavilions. The roof verandah on the top model is a nice touch.

These pavilions don’t look very portable, but I’ll take the maker’s words for it. A short history of the company that is included in this facsimile catalogue explains that British citizens working in other parts of the Empire often ordered these while in the field for a comforting touch of home.

These tennis players would have been unfashionably dressed in 1898, but as we often see in catalogues, illustrations of stock items are not always updated with each new edition.

For those tired of retrieving tennis balls from the shrubbery, Boulton & Paul offered fencing  for the court.

And for spectators, garden tents were available. Notice the croquet player in the bottom right photo.

The type of leisure that these items represent seem a bit foreign to us today. Most people  can only visit grand old homes with their pavilions and conservatories and imagine what it must be like to be in that elusive one percent, rather like ninety-nine percent of the people in 1898 did.

 

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Fashions & Home, Outdoor Number, May, 1927

This publication straddles the line between catalog and magazine. The William F. Gable Co, was a department store in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1884, it closed in 1990, another victim of the shopping mall.

My decision to buy this publication was based solely on the cover. How could I miss with four sports represented on the cover? Inside is a mix of articles about Paris fashions and advice on what to buy for summer sports, complete with prices. There is also an article on how to decorate a porch with wicker furniture sets beginning at $46.50.

The illustrations are really great, with a big emphasis, as promised, on sports. This woman in her pretty robe de style, is unpacking the summer things she had packed away the previous fall. Is that a bathing cap with a Scottie dog?

This could be a photograph right out of Vogue which regularly featured the real life costumes of the rich and titled.

A “two-piece Knitted Frock, a Swiss or French import…” would have indeed been the choice for the golf course.

Here we see the knitted golf  ensemble, along with the linen tennis dress.

This illustration accompanied an article on picnicking, complete with suggestions, menu, and recipes.

I suspect this haircut would have been a bit outre for Altoona, PA. The dress was designed by Madeleine des Hayes. I have never encountered the name before, so please let me know if you know more about the elusive Mademoiselle des Hayes.

The dress is about as short as hemlines actually reached in the mid to late 1920s.

In contrast is this dress.

Bouffant dance frock for the graduate with tight bodice  and long full skirt of orchid and pink taffeta, uneven hem.

Yes, as early as 1927 it was evident that hemlines were going to drop. The high-low trend of just a few years ago was truly inspired by the designers who used this trick to ease the fashionable into longer skirt lengths in 1927.

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Filed under 1920s fashion, Collecting, Fashion Magazines, Proper Clothing, Sportswear

Harford Frocks Sales Cards, 1940s

I think most of us would be familiar with at least one company that marketed direct to consumers in their homes. Examples are Avon cosmetics, Longaberger baskets, and Fuller brushes.  In most cases the salespersons were (are, as some of these are still in business) not employees of the company, but were private contractors who took orders for a commission. There were also several companies that sold clothing. One was Doncaster, who first used members of the Junior League as their “fashion consultants”. Doncaster recently closed after eighty-seven years.

Another fashion company that used direst sales was Harford Frocks of Cincinnati. Consultants were usually women, especially homemakers who wanted to make a little extra money. Each consultant had a sales kit that included cards showing all the available styles. The best part was the attached fabric swatch on each card, allowing the customer to actually feel the fabric.

I haven’t spent a lot of time researching the company so I can’t give a complete history of the company. The president was Clarence Israel, who arrived in Cincinnati in the early 1930s. His papers are held by the American Jewish Archives, but there is probably not much about his time at Harford. His more important work was as a social activist, and he worked to benefit the Jewish community of Cincinnati.

There are several interesting tidbits I want to share, however. I couldn’t find any firm dates for when Harford was in business, but the best source for trying to figure it out was Pinterest. Lots of cards are on view there, with the earliest ones dating to the mid 1920s, and the latest to the mid 1960s.

The company advertised in cheap magazines and comics, and according to the ads, the consultant got a free dress for every three she sold. I also found ads in the want ads section of Popular Mechanics.

The company was located in what is today the American Sign Museum. In 1937 the Ohio flooded, and the building was damaged. They sued their insurance company because it would not pay for damages. The insurance company won the case.

I have thirty-seven cards, but they are double-sided. They are not dated, but the designs look to be 1946 ish to me.  There are all kinds of garments, including  socks for men and “Curve Curbers” (aka girdles). There are suits for women and a few designs for little girls. But by far the best represented garment is the frock.

Each design has a fabric swatch or two, and included are the sizes available. They had three size ranges, what we would today call juniors, misses and half sizes. Some of the designs went up to a 44 inch bust.

The designs marketed to the teen market often had novelty features, like the pockets above.

This two piece dress looks like it has Schiaparelli-inspired buttons, but look closer and you’ll see that the buttons are round, and the top of the notes are embroidered onto the jacket.

Noticeably absent are pants. These shorts were the only pants in the entire set, though I have no way of knowing if some cards, which may include pants suits, are missing.

There were several sundresses with jackets. The horse fabric is a printed pique.

This is a versatile set, but it would be even more so if a pair of shorts were included.

One of the best things about post-World War Two fashion was the return of lots of color. Note that even the shoes are a bright, cherry color.

Like so much of the clothing advertising in the first six decades of the twentieth century, the fabric was up front and featured. Bates was a well-known brand of textiles, and Harford was quick to point out the connection.

Pleated to capacity!

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Shopping with the Vintage Traveler – Fall 2018

I love fall, not because of football or because of the cooler weather, but because of all the great vintage buying opportunities. I do have priorities. The photos in this vintage shopping segment all come from the Asheville Flea for Y’all, the Hillsville, VA Flea Market, and the Liberty, NC Antiques Festival. Three different shopping experiences, all with their charms.

I spotted the little sewing chick at the Flea for Y’all. I then saw another one (or maybe it was the same) at Liberty a month later.

I try really hard to limit myself to the categories that I already collect, but this 1970s Delta Airlines shirt was a big temptation,

An interesting name for a business, don’t you think?

A seller had several of these French Spanish days of the week towels. I had to remind myself that I have enough linen towels to last my lifetime.

I had a set of sewing cards when I was very young. Someone must have known I would spend a lifetime stitching. These, alas, were unused. What a missed opportunity.

After spending the summer reading about quilts, I have to stop and examine every one I encounter. This is from the 1930s or 40s, and would be considered a scrap or strip quilt. I love how the maker stuck to the blue color scheme.  These scraps are mainly cotton, and many are from feedsacks.

Moving on to Hillsville, Virginia, which is a flea market held on Labor Day weekend. It is a true flea market, with a combination of great old stuff and crafts and guns and common junk. In short, it is not for everybody, and only the thought of all the wonderful things found here in the past keeps me going back.

This is the fabric of my dreams, and from time to time it comes up for sale as a 1950s gathered skirt. This was the back of a quilt which was very much used and washed.

That sweet baby bib looks to be from the 1930s. And on the right is the gift we all need but don’t know it – a hankie shirt.

This interesting image of a woman swimmer is on a fan, circa 1915. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a bathing cap with a feather.

I’m not sure how many different designs were made for feedsack bags, but there had to have been thousands. I liked that this one still had the label that identified it as being from a flour mill in Asheville. And what’s more, I’ve had this same feedsack fabric.

I love old button cards, especially those that show you what they will look like after you sew them on a shirt.

To compare with the cotton 1930s quilt above, here is a similar concept, but in rayon fabrics from the 1940s and 50s. I love the added touch of the embroidery.

And finally, this past weekend I went to the Liberty Antiques Festival. It’s kind of hard to criticize this show, as it’s about as good as it gets around here. They advertise there are absolutely no reproductions allowed at this show, but I’m afraid this is not the case. At least three sellers had nothing but new stuff made to look old.

One of my very favorite vintage sellers, the great Nanette, was there. I’ve known and bought from her for many years, and she still has one of the best booths around.

What I love about Liberty is the chance to see things that just don’t make it to the average antique mall.

I know they must be at every garage sale in New England, but 19th century hatboxes are very rare in the South. There are some Southern-made ones, as the MESDA collection has a few. This one, as expected, was labeled as being from Maine, and was priced at around $500. One with a Southern provenance would have been more, and it would have sold very quickly.

 

 

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Kleinert’s for 1961 Swim Caps – Beach Bags

I have always loved catalogs. I wasn’t too crazy about the Barbie I got for Christmas in 1962, but I loved that little catalog that came with it, the one showing her latest fashions. And the arrival of the yearly Sears Wish Book was a big event in the Adams household.

It amazes me that so many old catalogs have survived. Why would anyone keep a 1961 Kleinert’s swim cap catalog? After a season its usefulness is wiped out. When I was a kid, there were never stray catalogs nor newspapers nor magazines lying around. My mother kept a tight ship when it came to clutter, and her method of dealing with it was to get rid of it as soon as possible.

But I’m grateful for the savers – the people who didn’t mind a few old catalogs taking up space in their homes or business. The latest addition to my collection is a wholesale catalog. The shop owner chose what she or he thought would sell. The original owner of this catalog made notes in the margins such as, “Add 6 to order, natural only”.

An obvious benefit of having catalogs of the things one collects is that they help so much when trying to place a date on an object. I’m sure a lot of people must think that these fancy bathing caps disappeared at the end of the 1950s, but this catalog is full of them. The bathing cap covered with flowers must have been really popular because so many of them survive. Most are in bad shape. The caps tend to age quite well, but the attached flowers get all mashed out of shape when stored flat. I’ve even seen them melted and sticky.

The “Gamine” style is less common, but not really rare. I have one that is covered in shiny black “hair”.

I’d like to see someone with that much hair actually put that rubber cap on! That is a sweet cap though, with the braid trim and that flower on the back of the neck. And how about those rubber bangs on the Bouquet cap?

Here we are getting in rarer territory. I’ve never seen a gingham swim cap, not in reality nor in print. This gives me something to aspire to, preferably in turquoise.

But most of all, I need this Regatta swim cap in my life, along with the matching beach bag.

When I think of bathing caps, I think of old ladies round the pool in Florida. I must have gotten that from some movie I saw as a girl. My actual experience with bathing caps was short-lived. My local public pool and the summer camp I attended both required caps for girls, insisting that the long hair of girls got clogged in the filtration system. In the mid-1960s when boys started growing their hair longer, we girls rebelled, saying truthfully that many of the boys had longer hair than we did.

Of course, instead of making boys wear the caps, the rule for the girls was “forgotten”.

The catalog has much more than just swim caps. I think that this postcard beach tote is simply the best.

Some time ago a reader emailed a photo of one of these folding hats that she had. I’ll admit I was clueless about it, so seeing this one was a real treat, despite the very unfortunate name. I’ve forgotten who had this hat, but if you are still around and you still have it, I’m ready to buy!

And here’s a different take on the sunglasses hat. Again, this is a new one to me.

The catalog has several styles of hats that have an attached scarf to tie on the head. I have a fairly generic one that belonged to my mother-in-law, but how I’d love to have this one that just looks so Italian.

 

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Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Vintage Miscellany – September 23, 2018

Three young women, sisters, or maybe friends, wearing the casual outfits of the late 1910s and early 1920s. The girl on the right sports a middy with skirt (and could that be a wristwatch on her arm?), while the girl on the left is wearing a slightly more grown-up blouse with a banded bottom. The middle girl is wearing a knit sweater, which looks like it might be layered over another top. I hope they were as happy as they look.

And now for the news…

  •   The National Museum of Brazil burned, and the cultural artifacts of a nation were destroyed. It could happen here.
  •    The news came out earlier this month that the FBI had recovered a pair of Ruby Slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz that were stolen in 2005. Details about the recovery are sparse, but the Smithsonian blog tells the fascinating story of how their conservators authenticated the shoes.
  • Jennifer Daley of the Association of Dress Historians, has compiled a list of online sources for fashion history research.
  • Burberry has announced they will no longer destroy unsold goods, and now other companies need to follow suit.
  •  Here’s a great story of how an exhibition led to the rediscovery of a dress belonging to Queen Alexandra.
  •   The Junto blog has just finished up a series of articles on colonial era dress.
  •   H&M is launching a line of clothing with prints from William Morris. Normally this would upset me (no fan of H&M) but they have promoted the connection instead of merely stealing his designs like happens so often.
  •   Henri Bendel is closing, and it is really not a surprise.  If you are in New York City before it closes in January, be sure to go by, if for no other reason than to climb to the second floor and revel in the Lalique windows.
  •  The word is out: Trump’s trade war is working… to the benefit of handbag counterfeiters in China.

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Anne Adams Sewing Patterns, Fall 1938

Anne Adams was the name of a sewing pattern company which sold their products through syndicated content in newspapers across America. I have seen Anne Adams patterns from the 1940s through the 1980s, but this catalog of designs is dated 1938. I added it to my archive because it was published by my hometown paper, the Asheville Citizen.

In looking through this catalog, I was struck by the big variety of lifestyles Anne Adams catered to. As you can see on the cover, there were evening gowns for those who had need of them. And while people might not think that women in a small city in the middle of the southern mountains would need a formal gown, there were plenty of events in Asheville that would make such a dress a necessity for many women.

On the other end of the spectrum was the house dress. A woman working at home during the day might not wear the three inch heels shown in the illustration, but I can remember that as late as the 1960s my grandmother and her three sisters always wore dresses similar to the ones pictured while doing their house cleaning, laundry, and cooking. All of them made these dresses out of cheerful prints in easy to clean cotton.

Here is a grouping of day dresses of a different sort. These were not for housework. They were for shopping or lunching, or perhaps for a club meeting.

In 1938, as it is today, the older woman is encouraged to look younger and thinner. Some things seem to never change.

For the truly young, there were campus fashions, starring the original teenage star, Deanna Durban.

The career woman was advised to make and wear separates which she could mix and match. The idea of separates is more associated with the 1950s, but it actually dates back much earlier, to at least the 1890s.

It’s pretty unlikely that in 1938 there was any skiing going on in the Asheville area, but a good, warm coat was needed. Interestingly, with the exception of pajamas, this was the only pair of pants offered for women. That was to change dramatically in just a few years.

And here are the other pants, in the form of pajamas. I can see where the width of the hems is starting to diminish from the extremely wide legs of the mid 1930s.

When I was coming of age in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the chief complaints of the girls in my school was that “fashion” here was two years behind what we saw in the fashion magazines. I’ve come to realize that our own conservatism had more to do with that than what was available to us. Even in 1938, women in the mountains of North Carolina could buy patterns of what was fashionable in other markets.

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