The Milbury Atlantic Manufacturing Co. Bathing Apparel

I recently acquired this little folder from the Milbury Atlantic Company. Located in New York City, the firm was founded in 1900 by L.A. Wilmot Milbury, as a maker of bathing attire. The goods were produced in Rahway, New Jersey until 1926 when the business closed.

My brochure is not dated, but it is from the late tweens or very early 1920s. It’s really interesting because it contains not just the suits but the accessories as well.

These two pages look to be a bit old-fashioned, even for 1920. Women were rapidly turning to the newer, knit models.

Like these.

I would love to get my hands on the model, second from left. Of course I would also want that hat.

I have several nice pairs of bathing boots, but I love the ones on the top left, and have put them at the top of my current wishlist. I find it amazing that Milbury made over100 styles of bathing shoes.

The union suit is most associated with Annette Kellermann, but here it is modeled by the great diver, Florence Kerner, a name with which I am not familiar.

I am in love with the hats. I cannot wrap my head around 100 styles of them. Today, bathing hats from this era are extremely hard to find, I think partly because they were lined in rubber which degraded over time. I have only two bathing hats from the 1920s, both bought years ago.

There must have been hundreds of makers of bathing apparel in the first decades of the twentieth century. I am always running across ones that are new to me, like Milbury.

I really couldn’t dig up much on the company, but was a gem of a story in the July 28, 1910 issue of The New York Times. Following a slump in sales, Mrs. Milbury, the owner’s wife, decided to take charge of the manufacturing plant. The former boss, Mrs. Robert Tons, was resentful at her demotion so she hatched a plan.

She baked cakes and made gallons of lemonade and invited the other workers over for a picnic. After eating Mrs. Tons talked them into striking, asking for a nine hour day and half a day off on Saturday. When Mrs. Milbury went into work she found the factory deserted. When she finally found some of the workers they told her they were striking because they were friends with Mrs. Toms. Mrs. Milbury said the strike was because of Mrs. Toms’ vanity and hurt feelings at being demoted.

I couldn’t find if Mrs. Toms got her job back. Something tells me she was shown the road.

You can read the account for yourself. The article makes a big deal about Mrs. Milbury having gone to college, and it treats the entire matter as a humorous affair. I also found it interesting that the boss’s job was held by a woman. I’ve seen many photos of workers inside textile and sewing factories, and what I usually see is a room full of women sewers and one man who appears to be the boss.


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3 responses to “The Milbury Atlantic Manufacturing Co. Bathing Apparel


    What fun! Love the zoftig model on the cover! As “seriously authentic and informative in matter this is – it would make a great costume!


  2. Trish s

    Merry Christmas and thank you for your always interesting posts.


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