Luck and Brooke Cadwallader

This post is about luck, on several different levels.  I feel so lucky to live in a time when communication with other collectors, history lovers and vintage nuts is so easy.   It seems like all I have to do is make a post about some obscure designer or store or manufacturer, and the information just starts flowing.

A year ago I posted photos of a Brooke Cadwallader scarf I had found.  The Cadwallader name is well-known to scarf and textile collectors, and anyone who has ever found one of his scarves will know from the quality that they have a special object.  But for the most part, Brooke Cadwallader has been forgotten and information about him is hard to come by.  Information is so scarce that if one does a google search for him, my old blog post is first in the results.  Because of that, I still get lots of hits to that post, and people are continuing to share what they know about Cadwallader and his textiles.

One poster, Janis, mentioned that the Cadwalladers designed a special scarf every year that they gave out as Christmas gifts.   I’m asking you, how lucky were those friends, when the cost of a Brooke Cadwallader scarf was about $175 in today’s dollar?

Then a few days ago, another reader, Beth,  posted that she had found some of the Christmas scarves at a sale some years ago.  Again, I’d say Beth is pretty darned lucky.  And she’s nice too, because she sent photos for me to share, and she gave some links to some very informative old articles about the Cadwalladers.  If you want to learn more about Brooke Cadwallader, you must read this article from Colliers, 1944, and this one from the New York Post, 1947.  Especially interesting was the story about how he and wife Mary left Paris as the Germans were occupying the city.

Note the poodles.  If you look at the New York Post article you’ll see a photo of Mary holding her poodle.

All images courtesy and copyright of Beth Walker.


Filed under Curiosities, Designers, Vintage Clothing

29 responses to “Luck and Brooke Cadwallader

  1. Great post! Love the photos and the articles about the Cadwalladers. Great information for future lucky scarf finders! I’ve got my fingers crossed and eyes peeled for these rare beauties.


  2. I adore scarves, been collecting them for a long time, these are fabulous! I agree about how lucky we are to live now and to be able to share our passion with so many like minded people all around the world, it is a true global village!


  3. Pink poodles! Love the whimsical graphics; perfect as art pieces


  4. joulesstar

    I’m jealous of Beth! Truly though, it was very nice of her to share the photos of the fantastic scarves, and those interesting 40s articles. Fabulous reading, for a scarf collector, and I am one.


  5. I am happy to have seen this post! ..and also lucky! A while back I stumbled upon an estate sale from someone who either was a descendant of Cadwallader or one of his employees – I bought at least 50 scarves, ties and neck pieces that were folded and unused. I will sell some of them on ETSY that are doubles but some are just too lovely to part with!!! Thanks for the links! The Met Museum actually has 25 samples of his work in their archives.


    • I’d say you are very lucky indeed! Be sure to let me know when you list them so I can see them.


      • I will indeed! I just listed a small one so far. (vintagepickle on etsy) but want to make sure the prices are fair in light of their value. Any feedback or suggestions are always appreciated. By the way, in my fulltime life, I run a vintage clothing costume rental house for the past 35 years and also collect just about everything!…so we are vintage sister travelers at heart (smile). I DO enjoy your other FuzzyLizzie site showing your collections., If you ever find yourself in NY you should come and visit our space. 6000 square feet of clothes from 1860 to 1970…and if you ever need any photos to augment your columns, I would be happy to oblige. By the way, I also have a blog where I sometimes write about the history of items ( like bathingsuits and hose for men and women) if interested, let me know where to send you the link!


  6. frances

    Hi, I have a Brooke cadwallader large framed square depicting all trains from 1800 through 1947 which I am interested in selling .please email with your. Intrrests.
    many thanks.


  7. David Noyes

    Brooke Cadwallader was my great uncle. I worked with him in his factory, Casa de los Gallos S.A. as a teenager. I hand-inked the opaques for the silk screens. He was a meticulous craftsman who insisted on perfection from himself and from everyone else, but he was also a kind and generous man who infused everything he did, including his art and his business, with wry humor. He treated his employees like family.
    He never copyrighted any of his designs and they were freely imitated -if not stolen- for decades. Leopard skin print? Originally by Brooke Cadwallader. Rattan print? Originally by Brooke Cadwallader. Toile wallpaper print? Originally by Brooke Cadwallader.
    When he lost his factory and business due to bureaucratic laws and a crooked accountant, he burned all of his screens, stock fabric and most of his designs before vacating the premises.
    When he passed away some 30 odd years ago, I settled his estate (being the only one in my family with Spanish) and I have all of his sample books, many neckties and a number of shirts made from his fabrics


    • Beth

      David, I would love to know more about the Christmas scarves. I now have four and am intrigued to know about the recipients, perhaps
      family or friends, employees? Did the scarves replace Christmas cards or were they special? Are there any records as to how many years they were produced and in what numbers? There is so much interest in all of the scarves, someone should publish a book!


    • Rodrigo Flores

      Hola David,hace un par de años compre la primera mascada con diseño de rattan en México y he leído la fascinante historia de tu tío y quisiera saber si podemos conversar un poco de su vida en Cuernavaca y su trabajo aquí,quisiera proponer unas piezas para una exhibición en el Museo Nacional de Arte Aquí en la Ciudad de México y quizás podrías ayudarme con algo más de información, muchas gracias de antemano


      • And in English!

        Hello David , a couple of years I got the first scarf with rattan design in Mexico and I read the fascinating story of your uncle and I wonder if we can talk a little of his life in Cuernavaca and work here , I would like to propose pieces an exhibition at the National Art Museum here in Mexico City and maybe you could help me with some more information , thank you very much in advance


      • Veronica

        Hola Rodrigo, mi nombre es Veronica, te escribo desde la ciudad de México. Leí tu mensaje sobre proponer una expo en el Museo Nacional de Arte. Me gustaría saber mas sobre esta propuesta ya que yo tengo un vestido hecho con la tela estampada en el taller de Cadwallader en Cuernavaca. No se cual sea tu propuesta de expo pero quizás podría interesarles. Saludos.


  8. Pingback: Updates – The Rest of the Story | The Vintage Traveler

  9. Liza

    Hey, I’m going through my mom’s items. Among them, I have found a Brooke Cadwallader Scarf. Mom was Fashion Editor at CondeNast/Glamour for a number of years in the 40’s. But I have no idea when she, or my Grandmother purchase the scarf. Where might I go to find out more of all the wonderful scarves he created?


    • Liza, Brooke Cadwallader scarves are real treasures, so congratulations on finding one in your mother’s things. I”m afraid I don’t know of other sources of information about him other than the magic of google.


  10. There are a couple of people I buy from. They purchase at auctions, yard/garage sales, etc. I do so myself, but buying from them, adds to my collections. Just happened across your site, because I was researching Brooke Cadwallader. I bought some costume jewelry from one person, and she gave me an elephant scarf signed by him. Talk about getting lucky….


  11. eleanor

    what do the christmas scarves go for in price?


  12. ndyer

    My son gave me a B. Cadwallader scarf for my birthday. It is now my most cherished art accessory item.


  13. Hi, I have had a purse for about 15 years and was about to donate it to a thrift store. I originally bought it at a thrift store and never used it – it still has the tag from that purchase. I looked inside before putting it in my donation bag and decided to look up the name Brooke Cadwallader. I can’t find any information on handbags though – not a single thing. I am wondering if this is collectible and what the price point might be – and who to pass it onto as I’d prefer someone who would appreciate it. I’ve always had an eye for unique thrift and vintage objects, which is why I bought this one years ago. Thoughts? People to talk to about this? Did he even make handbags / purses? So many questions 😉


    • Hi Liz. I’ve never heard of a Cadwallader purse, so it is great hearing about yours. Maybe another Cadwallader fan will read this and offer some insight.


      • David Noyes

        I do not know of any purses. Someone may have made some, though. His fabrics were used by many and used to be sold by the bolt at Lord & Taylor NY back before I was born and when I was very young. That was before he moved from NYC to Cuernavaca. He was quite the artist and refused to copyright his designs. If he had, he would have left quite an estate! He was the first to use animal prints such as leopard and tiger and his was the original rattan print. I do not know that his Christmas scarves were made in large numbers, though I think not. My family has a few very large, unique scarves that were made, for example, for my parents’ wedding anniversaries.
        I worked with him at Casa de los Gallos SA in 1970. Everything was made by hand from his original drawings to the india-inked negatives on vellum to the enormous production screens and the trolleys on rails on which they rode. Every batch of ink was hand mixed for color and constientcy and approved under his discerning and critical eye. The screens were also hand painted with light sensitive emulsion and exposed in large bathtub fitted with ultraviolet tubes.
        Inks were hand applied to the screens and then hand run through the screens by two people (one on either side of a screen) with enormous, hand-made squeegees.
        It truly was a “fabrica de telas estampadas a mano”.
        My job was to paint the opaques on vellum and to assure that the repeats all matched from one color to the next before the screens were exposed.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. David Noyes

    Pam thanks so much for this! I had no idea such footage existed. As you can probably tell, this wonderful film was shot in NYC, not Cuernavaca. In Mexico, the printing room was much wider and longer. The tables were outfitted with rails on either side of the rolled out bolts of virgin fabric to be printed. The screens were laid upon and fastened to trolleys and the rails were fitted with moveable stops for the trolleys that were precisely measured to set for each screen/color. This was to assure that the colors were printed in the EXACT spot required for perfect registration for both overlays of color and for the repeats*. Each trolley had a lever that was set and applied by hand each time to lower the screen to the exact pressure required every time. Different viscosities of inks were used depending upon the fabric to be printed, so pressure was important. I recall that there was very little variation in pressure, but it was till important.

    *A “repeat” is a pattern in the screen set during the hand inking of the negatives (which is what I did) that allows consecutive screens to perfectly match for a seamless continuation of the printed design over the entire length of a huge bolt of fabric.


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