Shopping with the Vintage Traveler, Summer 2021

Over the past few months I’ve spent much more time finding homes for vintage treasures than I have in looking for new ones. Still, I have been able to carve out some time for vintage shopping.

The sign above would have been great for my collection except that it is a reproduction. Still, it was a great example of how the promise of leisure was a big selling point in 1911.

One of the theories of how “flappers” were named comes from the huge floppy hairbows they wore as girls. Here we see a future flapper and that giant bow.

I’m not a “cat person” but this was such a great buy for some feline fan.

Remember Remco? That toy company made lots of novel products, many from molded plastic like this “spinning wheel”.

I don’t know if you can make sense of my photo, but the wheel was actually a giant knitted cord maker. It’s a gadget we used to make with an old wooden spool and a few nails. No wonder this one was like new. There was so little that could actually be made with it.

I loved this hair dryer case.

For once the WAC is out front instead of in the flyer’s shadow.

Simply put, this is one of the nicest thread spool cases I’ve ever seen.

This is a cold weather mask, probably for a pilot. The store was closed, so this was window shopping at its worst. I suspect this was a military piece.

Cypress Gardens was an attraction in Florida that showcased skilled water skiers.

Someone bought one of these toy sewing machines for me when I was about ten. It only made a chain stitch, and I hated it.

Oh, my, but these Dior counter displays were peachy.

The dealer’s tag declared this was a 1970s Betsey Johnson dress, but I had my doubts. There was no label, and it sure looks 1990s.

In one antique mall, Liza and I found three antique parasols. All were pretty, but unfortunately, they were also shredding.

So, how was your summer?

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1907 – 1908 Jaeger Catalog

Or, Dr. Jaeger’s Sanitary Woolen System. German doctor Gustav Jaeger had a theory. He believed that because humans were animals, the only proper fiber for human wear was animal in origin. Thus, he advocated the wearing of wool, especially as undergarments.

In 1880 he released a book on his theories, translated into English as Standardized Apparel For Health Protection. His concepts caught on, especially in Germany, where woolen underwear was being manufactured according to his ideas. In 1884, one of his devotees,  Lewis Tomalin, brought the clothing to Britain as Dr. Jaeger’s Sanitary Woollen System Co. Within a few years the clothing was made in England under the Jaeger brand.

There was a Jaeger store in London, and one was opened in New York as well, located at 306 Fifth Avenue. Most of the garments sold by Jaeger in these early years were items that were worn next to the skin. My little catalog is full of long johns, socks, undershirts and nightclothes.

Dr. Jaeger believed that dyes were harmful because the chemicals could be absorbed through the pores. Thus, most of the products sold at Jaeger were either the natural color of the wool, or were white.

Among the claims Dr. Jaeger made, was that woolen clothing protected one from disease. He had proof that the wearer was protected from cholera, small pox, measles, and the plague.

One of the few black garments offered were these equestrian tights. Women riders had been wearing trousers under their riding skirts for some time. I suppose it was just too immodest for a woman to wear the natural color because it might look like bare skin on a light-skinned woman.

In 1907, a motor scarf was necessary for those lucky enough to own an automobile. These were also offered in black and in gray.
What got me to thinking about Jaeger was the currently traveling exhibition from the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles, Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960. In the catalog, also called Sporting Fashion, the FIDM curators have paired a Jaeger corset with bloomers, both to be worn under a bicycling suit.
Here’s a photo from the book showing FIDM’s corset, which is quite similar to the one in my catalog.

And here’s the label from the corset. I love how the photo shows not only the label, but also the texture of the wool knit. It’s little things like this that elevate what could have been just a lot of pretty pictures (and there are plenty of those to be sure) into a very useful and appreciated resource. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in women’s sportswear and the social history of the advance of women into the public sphere.

Sporting Fashion the exhibition, will not be back in Los Angeles until May, 2024. If you hurry, you can catch it at The Frick in Pittsburg (until September 26, 2021) or catch it in Memphis, TN (July 24–October 16, 2022), Davenport, IA (February 11–May 7, 2023), Utica, NY (June 17–September 17, 2023), Cincinnati, OH (October 14, 2023–January 14, 2024), or Jacksonville, FL (February 24–May 19, 2024). I plan to see it in Memphis, or possibly Cincinnati.

Sporting Fashion the book was written by FIDM curators  Kevin L. Jones and Christina M. Johnson with Kirstin Purtich. It can be ordered from the FIDM website.

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The Call of the Wild from the Hettrick Mfg, Company

Working non-stop to clean out two houses left me with only enough energy in the evenings to search eBay for treasures. Good sporting sources are getting harder to find, but I am good at spotting them. Take this 1920s catalog, for instance. At first its little eBay thumbnail photo didn’t look too promising, and then I noticed the auto tent.

I’m not at all interested in truck covers and tarps, but auto tents always attract my attention.

The catalog is just full of mid 1920s camping supplies. The Hettrick Company started out as a maker of canvas goods, making items for the late 19th century farmers such as horse and wagon covers. They were evidently willing to change with the times, as the 1920s brought cars and more leisure hours. Hettrick turned to canvas car covers and tents.

Today we might look on Instagram to see the ideal camping setup. In the pre-internet days, catalogs sold the perfect camping experience.

In the 1940s and 50s Hettrick turned from canvas items to metal outdoor furniture. Those metal gliders and chairs we all enjoyed as kids could have been made by Hettrick.

The caption for this great drawing could have been written in 2021 as millions of Americans flooded our national parks looking for some soothing nature.

Hettrick also made striped canvas awnings, tents, yard swings, umbrellas, and other accessories for the modern backyard. In the 20s they also began making clothing for outdoorsmen.

I have two of these wonderful old reclining chairs. It’s time to replace the canvas.

This catalog still has a small selection of wagon covers and horse coats, but as America moved from farms to the cities and suburbs, Hettrick was able to transition to a leisure hours supplier. Funny how the cover focused on their past as a maker of farm supplies instead of what the catalog actually was focused on.

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Side Tracked

“Honeymoon Catch, Sept 1912” The bride is not identified but it looks as though she was a successful angler. It’s hard to see, but she’s standing in mud, a situation with which I, unfortunately, can relate.
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You might not associate hurricanes and tropical storms with the Appalachian Mountains as we are 300 miles from the Atlantic, but when the perfect storm forms over the Gulf Coast we can get heavy rains that funnel through the narrow river valleys. This happened last week when Fred came through. It was sudden and devastating to communities on the rivers. Lives were lost. Two hundred homes were destroyed. Many small, local businesses, including our fabulous little brewery were damaged.
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I was lucky. My husband’s childhood home which we own but do not live in, is on the Pigeon River in Clyde, NC. Unlike 2004 when Hurricanes Frances and nine days later Hurricane Ivan both brought 4 feet of water into the house, we had only about 5 to 8 inches. There was a thick layer of mud on the floors, but thanks to the best friends in the world and the kindness of strangers, the house is now clean and dry.
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One thing that helped was that money was spent to develop a flood runoff park just upstream from my little town. It’s an example of town planning that worked to lessen the impact of this flood. Upstream the situation was much more devastating.

The 2004 floods were referred to as 100 year events, but here we are seventeen years later with another one. Only fools think climate change is not real. We need to look at the attitudes toward climate change of candidates at all levels of government. We simply cannot continue on this path.

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Downsizing

I know; it’s been a while. As the title says, we are in the process of downsizing. What that means is that we are selling the adorable little cottage where I have stored my collection for the past sixteen years. So between sorting through everything, and getting my priorities straight, time and energy have been short.

We bought the cottage after my mother-in-law was flooded out of her house in 2004. We thought she might want to live there, but as it turned out she didn’t. But we kept the house anyway and over the years it has been a source of joy to me. We held family gatherings there. And I have spent lots of happy hours with my stuff.

But now the cottage has to go, and it’s really more for its sake than for mine. We simply can’t keep up with the maintenance of a 116 year old house. It’s for the best. And yet, here I am forced to reassess the items I’ve accumulated over the past two decades.

So please bear with me while the sorting and rehoming continues! But don’t worry, the vast part of my collection is staying with me.

And now for a public service announcement:

Get the covid vaccine. This is not rocket science, but it is biology. Vaccines work. That’s why you don’t have to worry about polio or the measles. That’s why smallpox is no longer naturally occurring in our world. This is not political. It is doing the right thing for humanity.

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The Fabric of a Town, Fountain Inn, South Carolina

I recently met friend Liza in the little town of Fountain Inn, SC. We were there to see an exhibition at the local museum, The Fabric of a Town: What We Wore from 1860 – 1960. Neither of us had ever been to Fountain Inn, which is just a few minutes south of Greenville, so we didn’t know what to expect. Small, local museums like the Fountain Inn Museum try very hard, but resources are slim, and there’s a lot of making do with what one has.

That said, we were delighted with what we found in Fountain Inn. The director of the museum, Kenzie Galloway, wanted to do a clothing exhibition, but the museum’s collection did not have enough garments to put on a good show, so she reached out to long-time members of the community and asked for loans of their clothes, and those of deceased family members. The result was a well thought out exhibition, with every piece a part of the story of the town.

This is not just a clothing exhibition; it is a collection of the stories of the people who are Fountain Inn. The wearer of each item is identified, any there are short stories about the wearers presented through the exhibition space. With the exception of exhibitions that feature the clothing of one person, you just seldom get this type of provenance.
Another advantage of this type of show is that you usually can get a good, close-up look. We were especially lucky because Kenzie walked through the exhibition with us, telling us even more about how she planned the show, assembled the garments, and recorded the stories.
This dress was one of my favorites, partly because it is so pretty, but mainly because of the woman who wore it. Emmie Stewart was in her mid thirties when she agreed to marry town dentist Doc Fulmer, provided he built them a large house and that he did not expect more than one child.
The dress was bought after the wedding and was Emmie’s afternoon receiving gown.
As you can see, she got the house and the one little boy.
This garment appears to me to be a dressing jacket, or a combing jacket. There is a matching corselet and petticoat (or skirt). It was made by one of the Mock sisters, Mattie and Maggie who were born in the 1860s. Both were accomplished seamstresses, which you will see once you know that the eyelets were all hand embroidered.
The sisters never married and lived together until Maggie died in 1940.
There are also men’s garments in the exhibition. This is a class coat from Furman College (now University) worn by Fred Wood. Fred graduated from Furman in 1930.

Furman’s college colors are white and purple, and the use of them has been traced to the early 1890s. My guess that the use of light blue and black for Fred’s coat indicate this was his class’s colors, which were different from the college colors.

And yes, there was a bit of sportswear, including this circa 1915 swimming tunic and bathing shoes. Unfortunately the bloomers were missing.
And there was this perfectly charming 1960s Jantzen swimsuit with matching cover-up or blouse.
Jantzen and Catalina made a lot of these matching sets in the 1950s and early 60s. It was fun to see a set that has remained together.
This is a beautifully preserved wedding gown from 1942. It was made by Carolyn White’s mother for Carolyn’s wedding to Luther White. Note the painting. This is Carolyn’s self-portrait of herself wearing her gown.
The display includes the sewing pattern!
You really can’t take us anywhere. Liza thought the veil was obscuring the beauty of the neckline. She was right.
A big challenge to small museums in displaying clothes is that mannequins and dress forms greatly enhance the way the garment looks, but these are not always available. Some of the plainer garments were hung on padded hangers, which pretty much worked. But some of the garments were much too fragile to hang and so were put in display cases. In the case of this late 1800s dress, there was no way it could have been displayed any way except flat. The silk is disintegrating, as you can see. It’s a shame, as this was a lovely dress.
This dress sparked a lively conversation about the stories that are often attached by family members to heirlooms. According to the story this dress was worn to a garden party in 1925. I’m not saying the story is not true, but if it is the wearer must have felt dreadfully out-of-date and overdressed.
There was a bassinette full of cute little baby things. Gwen Walton’s little feet wore these beautifully crocheted slippers.

I want to congratulate Kenzie for a job well done! The exhibition is running until July 30, 2021, so there is still time to see it if you are in the Greenville area.

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Jantzen 1936 Style Book

Jantzen is one of those companies that seemed to get things right from the very beginning. It was established in 1910 by Carl Jantzen and John and Roy Zehntbauer as the Portland Knitting Company, with their products being woolen sweaters and accessories. The founders were active in rowing, and in 1913, they designed wool knit trunks for members of their team. From there a one-piece men’s bathing suit was designed. By 1915 bathing suits became their main product, and the name of the company was changed to Jantzen.

The three owners were also avid swimmers, so they worked on the knit until it was good for swimming and not just splashing about in the water. In 1921 the team at Jantzen began marketing their suits as swimming suits instead of bathing suits. By then Jantzen suits were being marketed to both men and women, and their famous diving girl logo had been designed.

The Jantzen story is well-documented. The company advertised heavily and they also released catalogs for both retail and wholesale. I have a fair collection of them, mainly from the 1950s, so I was glad to get this earlier one.

Unlike some companies, Jantzen maintained an archive even after the original families sold the business. They have not only a nice collection of Jantzen swimsuits, but catalogs, artwork, and copies of the in-house magazine, Jantzen Yarns.

My 1936 catalog has this nifty color chart. Color can be an important clue when determining the age of a vintage piece. Colors, like everything else in fashion, come and go.
The 1930s brought a lot of changes to swimsuit fashion. The wool knit suit was still pretty much standard for suits, but makers were always looking for ways to make them fit better. They were much more form-fitting than 1920s suits, just as 1930s dresses were more fitted than the dresses of that decade.

The Take-Off model came with a removable skirt that doubled as a cape. The straps could be adjusted for three different looks.

The two-piece suit was making its appearance.
“Maximum exposure”
Changes were also coming to men’s swimsuits. In 1932 Jantzen introduced the Topper, in which the top could be removed from the trunks by way of a zipper. This was considered very risque in some areas.
By 1936 some men were doing away with the top and just sporting trunks. But for more conservative tastes, Jantzen still made the old-fashioned one-piece.
Things got really cute with kids’ suits.

Jantzen developed several textured knits, like the Kava knit seen throughout this catalog. Lastex thread had been invented and marketed starting in 1931, but it took swimsuit makers a few years before they fully embraced the new (and improved) technology.

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