Category Archives: Catalogs

Ball-Band Canvas Sport Shoes, 1936

Ball-Band was a trademark of the Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturers of Mishawaka, Indiana.  As the name implies, the company started out as a woolen mill, making blankets and wool felt boots.  In 1886 the company conceived of a boot with knitted wool uppers in which the wool was first knit, then felted through shrinkage.  The owner’s mother, Mrs. Jacob Beiger, knit the prototype for the product.

Rubber shoes and over-shoes were added as products in 1898 with many of the shoes having a rubber sole and upper, and wool legs.  In 1922, they added sneakers, or sports shoes.  Two years later the company changed their name to the Mishawaka Rubber and Woolen Company to better represent the products made.

My 1936 wholesale catalog does not show the boot with the wool uppers, but they were still making wool products in the form of heavy woolen socks. Leather boots were also being made, but their main product appears to be canvas and rubber sports shoes, or sneakers.

They had also gotten into the casual canvas shoe for women market with their line of Summerettes. First made in 1934, Summerettes were popular through the 1950s.

Ball-Band also made basketball shoes for both men and women, or what today would be known as high-tops.

They also made shoes to wear in the water, made of all rubber. I have a pair that is very similar to the Newport Locker Sandal, seen above. I have always thought these to be from the late 1940s, but now I need to reexamine that thought.

One great feature in this catalog is this photo of the soles of the shoes. The style of tread can be used somewhat to help date shoes.

I find it amazing how similar these are to modern sneakers. Sports shoes do reflect fashion though, mainly in the shape of the toe.

And finally, here’s a view of the Ball-Band factory complex in Mishawaka, Indiana. There were over forty acres of floor space and around 5000 employees. In 1967 Ball-Band was bought by Uniroyal, and in 1969, the last pair of shoes was made at Mishawaka.  Today the factory site is a public park.

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Winter Sports Catalog, 1935 Lillywhites, London

When searching for items to add to my collection, I focus primarily on things made and worn in the USA. But by the time this Lillywhites catalog was published in London in 1935, Western fashion was becoming less regional. Anyway, that’s how I justified adding this catalog to my print resources.

In 1935 skiing was a relatively new sport, in the States at least. This catalog from the UK references skiing in Norway, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, so it must have really caught on as a sport on the Continent. And I can see a bit of Tyrolian influence in the clothes, especially in the accessories. Could there be a connection to the fashion for Germanic styles that started to appear in Western dress around this time?

Note the strong asymmetrical jacket closures. This was a big feature of mid-1930s fashion and it extended to sportswear. Also, the knickers of 1920s women skiers are gone, replaced by warmer long trousers.

Ski trips to the Alps or to Scandinavia were so new that Lillywhites felt it necessary to give some instructions to the novice. There are also lists of clothing and gear needed for a holiday in the snow.

This novel skiing motif was available in both wool and cashmere, and in white with blue, navy with white, and white with red.

There were lots of options available for layering beneath the ski jacket.

This is probably my favorite.

Skating costumes (along with skates of all types) were included. The style on the right is actually “skorts”, and was recommended for practice wear.

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1930s Roadhome Pullman Coach Catalog

I have always loved vintage travel trailers, and even considered searching out one in which to store my collection. Had I had more time, I might have actually pursued that option. As it turns out, I did add a trailer related object to my collection, this mid to late 1930s catalog for Roadhome Pullman Coaches.

There’ no date in the catalog, so I had to go by the dates to figure out when it was published. The models of the cars are probably the best clues, but I know little about vintage cars. So I went with the clothing the people are wearing. The lengths of the dresses and the hair styles sure look 1935 – 1936 to me. If you are a vintage car know-it-all, feel free to enlighten me.

Travel trailers had been around for a while in the 1930s. People had been using their autos for camping since the early days of the automobile. There were specially made tents that attached to the car, with the auto itself being used for sleeping. But as more people were hitting the ever-improving American highways, camping setups became more luxurious.

Why rough it and spend hours setting up camp when one could have a fully stocked cabin on wheels? There’d be more time for relaxing.

Campfires were optional when one had a fully-functioning kitchen.

That refrigerator is actually an icebox, though you could upgrade to gas or electrical. Power was limited, and so was conserved when possible.

At night the sofa became a bed. The walls were made of mahogany, a feature I’ve noticed in other trailers of that era.

These floor plans make the Roadhome look nice and spacious. If you have noticed the lack of a bathroom, the bathtub is hidden beneath a seat, and the toilet is contained in a closet.

What’s interesting is how the basic fundaments of a travel trailer have not changed much since the 1930s. They still have tiny kitchens and toilets concealed in closets. Furniture still serves double-duty when possible. But somehow the vintage ones are just more charming. Maybe I should find one for myself anyway.

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Filed under Camping and Hiking, Catalogs, Travel, Vintage Travel

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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Filed under Catalogs, Proper Clothing, Winter Sports

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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Filed under Camping and Hiking, Catalogs, Summer Sports, Travel, Vintage Travel

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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Filed under Catalogs, Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Summer Sports