Shopping with the Vintage Traveler – Summer 2019

It’s time for another shopping trip through the bazaars of the Southeast. Here I show you the things I liked, but did not buy. I mean, I really can’t buy it all. Sometimes just taking a photo is enough.

The water bag above was interesting to me because it was made by Hirsch-Weis, or White Stag. And yes it is the same company tht made White Stag clothing. It was originally a maker of heavy canvas items such as tents and sails.

One of the best small shows in the South is the yearly antiques market in Abingdon, VA. This show is one of those rarities where there really is no junk, but most of the items are not priced so high that one has to take out a loan in order to buy things.

The seller had this labeled as the back of a theater seat, and it does look like one to me.

This was a store display. Cute or weird?

The seller of this card of fabric swatches had a nice grouping of them. I loved them, but at $40 each, I had to pass.

This enameled shoe horn was nifty, but again, I could not justify the $125 price tag.

This Twiggy doll, case, and clothing was really nice, but I do not need to add another collecting category. It was like new.

Can you see how tiny this little sewing kitty is? The little pedal actually moved. Why could it not have been a sewing Scottie?

I really do have a thing for antique socks and stockings.

Are Coca~Cola collectibles as desirable as they were several decades ago? They always seem to be priced quite high, but I do love the sporty girl graphics.

Carolyn Schnurer is a label I’m always looking for, but I passed on this jacket for several reasons. The skirt was missing, and the jacket wasn’t in the best condition. But what really broke the deal was that Schnurer was known for her sporty designs in cotton prints. This is a great little jacket, but it just does not say “Carolyn Schnurer”.

Sweetness overload.

I actually regret not buying these. I was getting tired and was not thinking straight.

This is the cover of a 1938 Needlework magazine. I love seeing women’s overalls in illustrations.

I love coming across booths like this one, as there are usually some items related to women’s sports. This one, unfortunately, let me down.

And finally, here’s something I did actually buy. Antique exercise clubs are usually plain like the ones on the left. But I’d recently seen a pair that was decorated, and so I’d decided I needed a pair. I never dreamed I’d find a pair in Berea, Kentucky. But that’s what makes vintage shopping so interesting. I just never know what I’ll find.



So, there you have it.


Filed under Shopping

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

The 1930s Union Railroad Terminal in Cincinnati had been closed for several years for renovations so I had never been inside it. Since 1990 it has housed the Cincinnati Museum Center, and that includes the Cincinnati History Museum.

The installation of exhibits is ongoing, so parts of the museum had an unfinished feel. Still, there was a lot to see. Unfortunately, it was the day before area schools started and it seemed like every family in Cincinnati was there. So it was a bit noisy, but how nice to see parents and kids experiencing the museums together.

The building is spectacular, with a half dome ceiling surrounded by a mural of a historic nature. I hope that the many visitors stopped to appreciate the structure itself.

The first display in the history museum was a miniature Cincinnati with train layout. This was a train station, after all. It takes the visitor back to the Cincinnati of the 1940s. Interesting, and very popular with the youngsters.

In the basement of the museum is a recreation of Cincinnati’s early days as a river city. It’s located on the Ohio River, which is still used to move freight today. But in the early days, the river was the city’s heart, and Cincinnati was the major river port in this part of the country.

These little recreated towns seem to be somewhat standard in regional history museums. I’ve been to quite a few, but this is the best experience I’ve ever had in one. Usually the visitor is left on the outside looking in through shop windows, or marginally better, behind roped off areas. But here in Cincinnati, we got to ramble through the buildings where there were enough interactives to engage even grown-ups.

Who could resist exploring a riverboat?

People across the region went to Cincinnati looking for opportunities. Here we see the imagined contents of a young woman’s trunk. We might suppose that she is looking for employment as a seamstress.  Lucky for her, Mrs. H.B. Ruggles had a dressmaking and ladies’ goods establishment nearby.

Inside the dressmaker’s shop there was this display on choosing fabrics, which is of course, where a woman started when getting a new dress in the mid nineteenth century. The presence of ready-to-wear clothing was several decades in the future. The fabrics in the display look to be good natural fiber reproductions.

The sewing machine was a new product in the mid nineteenth century, and much of the sewing continued to be done by hand. We can only imagine how excited a dressmaker would have been when she was able to add this terrific time-saver to her tools.

Exhibits of this nature seem to always be a mix of new and antique .  It’s a good way for a museum to show items from the collection, like the Godey’s Lady’s Book, that might otherwise remain in storage.

And we all appreciate a good cage crinoline.

There was a nice explanation of how a dressmaker used a paper pattern (another relatively new development) to transform the flat fabric into a three-dimensional garment.

I liked this reminder that people in the past did not just discard clothing if it became damaged.

I’d like to think that the women of Cincinnati were a bit more fashionable than this display suggests.

There were other businesses to explore, and my favorite (only because the German beer garden had no actual beer) was the photography studio. This photo was taken by placing my phone lens on the eye piece of the camera. The original was, of course, upside down.

There are other museums, including a nice one devoted to the  natural history of the region (with a “cave” to explore} to a hands-on kids’ museum. There is also an IMAX theater, and when we were there a special exhibition on Ancient Egypt. Maybe we will return some day when the displays are finished, and the kids are in school.



Filed under Museums

L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters at the Taft Museum of Art

A recent trip to Cincinnati included a visit to the Taft Museum of Art. I had never visited the Taft, but had heard that it was a gem of a collection. And there was a special exhibition I wanted to see, L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters.  The show features the work of artists Jules Chéret, Eugène Grasset, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Alphonse Mucha, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who all worked in Paris in the latter years of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth.

I especially loved how so many of the posters showed women ice skating and biking. This great poster, Palais de Glace, or Ice Palace is by Jules Chéret. It was an 1894 advertisement for an ice skating rink.

This poster for Marque Georges Richard was made in 1899 by Eugène Grasset. Although this poster is advertising the bicycle, the focus is on the woman and the open road in the background which beckons her.

It’s hard to imaging a more perfect example of Art Nouveau than this 1896 poster by Alphonse Mucha. This poster, Zodiac, was designed as the illustration of an advertising calendar for the firm that did his printing. This example does not have the advertising text as poster collectors were beginning to want copies without the ads. Many of the posters, most of which were designed as advertisements and were hung on kiosks and walls throughout Paris, were made both with and without the text.

This Mucha poster for Cycles Perfecta also highlights the woman over the bicycle. Even though she is at rest, her hair streams out as if blown by the wind, adding motion and excitement to the image.

In 1899 Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen made an image of the New Woman riding a motorized bicycle through the countryside.  She calmly disperses the flock of geese as she journeys forth.

I’m breaking with the theme here, but this poster is just such a perfect depiction of greedy cats begging for a sip of milk. The little girl is Steinlen’s daughter Colette, and the family did have several cats. The poster is an ad for a dairy farm, Quillot Brothers.

Probably the best-known of the five artists is Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.  I’m not a big fan of his, but I found this ad for La Revue Blanche (The White Magazine) to be quite nice. Even though her feet are not seen, it is likely that the woman is ice skating, at the Palais de Glace, perhaps. The forward angle of her  body suggests movement, and the fur muff and matching coat suggests a skating costume.

And I’m finishing with a poster that is neither French nor sports themed. Also on display was a small grouping of posters printed in Cincinnati. This delightful poster advertises Prof Morris and his dog and pony show, circa 1880.

It was just too good not to share!

L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters will be showing at the Taft Museum of Art until September 15, 2019. Organized by Chicago’s Richard H. Driehaus Museum, the exhibition has more show dates around the USA. You can check here for the schedule.


Filed under Museums

The Rest of the Story: Vionnet Style Dress

Yes, I did just post this photo of a catalog page from 1926, but we need to take a closer look at the dress on the right. In the Filene’s catalog the dress was described as “the Vionnet style of tennis dress”. Elsewhere in the catalog the same style bodice with a square neck and a line of fagotting across the top of the bust appears.

As you must know by reading this blog, haute couture is interesting to me, but it’s not what I collect or study. I was intrigued by the repeated reference to Vionnet, so I did spend some time looking through all my books that might have a picture of Vionnet dresses to see if I could spot this neckline.

Interestingly, a photo of the style turned up on Instagram, posted by @jupeculotte, Caroline Rennolds Milbank.

This is Miss Diana Dalziel, whom you may recognize as Diana Vreeland.  The photo was taken aboard the S.S.  Cameronia in 1923. Milbank stated that she had always suspected this dress was by Vionnet (or was a copy) but was able to confirm this until she saw my catalog page.

It seems impossible that the internet has brought about such a change in the way historical information is shared. Before the www one could buy a few catalog reprints like those from Dover (still an excellent resource) and if one was lucky one might pick up some old catalogs from antique stores and thrift shops. Today, a simple google or Pinterest search brings up dozens of pages of catalogs from decades past.

At times I get really frustrated with the internet with all it’s ugliness and dark places. But then I remember how it really has opened up the ability to research almost any topic from the remotest corner of the earth.


Filed under Rest of the Story

Clothes, 1926 Filene’s, Boston

I recently found this catalog disguised as a magazine from William Filene’s Sons in Boston. I don’t buy a lot of basic catalogs, but this one focuses on summer sportswear, so it is a good fit within my collection.

I would think that today if the name Filene’s comes up, most people would think of the famous Filene’s Basement. Started in 1909, it was not the first bargain basement (that honor goes to Marshall Field in Chicago) but it did grow to become the most famous. It was probably the most lamented department when the store was closed in 2006 and 2007. Today there is an online Filene’s Basement, but we know that does not count.

But this catalog was not advertising wares from the basement. The dress or ensemble on the cover is not mentioned inside the catalog, but a very similar dress could be found in the women’s department on the fifth floor for $25. The inflation calculator prices that at $362 in 2019 dollars.

The catalog has twenty-two pages, and four of them are devoted to sweaters. This is 1926, so all the sweaters have a long, below the hip, slim line. Filene’s suggested layering the sweaters, much like French tennis star Suzanne Lenglen did. According to a question and answer page in the catalog, “Mlle. Lenglen this year often wears a sleeveless white dress, with three cardigans over it – the first of crepe de Chine, the second of Milanese silk, the third of light wool.”

The tennis dress on the left is made of silk, and is available in white as would be expected, but also in colors to wear off the court. I’d like one in larkspur. The dress on the right is described as being in the Vionnet style. This style is referenced elsewhere in the catalog, always when describing a square neck and a line of fagotting across the top of the bust.

This golf dress was developed with advice from actual women golfers. I can’t see that the necktie helped with the golfer’s comfort though.

There’s that Vionnet-style bodice again. Elsewhere in the catalog, sweaters are described as being Chanel-style.

But to get the real French thing, one had to go to the more exclusive French Shop, which was located on the sixth floor in 1926. There one could have a French designer gown fitted to suit the buyer.

Like so many department stores across the US, Filene’s eventually fell victim to Federated and Macy’s. To make it worse, the old Filene’s store was not converted to a Macy’s store as happened in so many other cities. Instead, the interior of Filene’s was gutted as only the exterior was protected under its historical classification. Today, much of the building is home to Irish fast fashion retailer Primark.


Filed under Advertisements, Collecting, Summer Sports

The Land and Water Hat and the Mash Hat, Circa 1880

This item is actually a small poster, meant to be displayed in the hat or the sporting goods department of a store. It’s not dated, but various clues point to a date of around 1880.

I spotted this on eBay and talked myself into buying it mainly because the hats were designed to be worn by both men and women. In a time when clothing was strictly divided as being either for men or for women, I thought it was so interesting to have this example of two very early unisex hats.

The seller had found an ad for the hats in an 1882 issue of Clothier and Furnisher, a journal for the garment trade. Besides helping to nail down the date of the poster, the ad gives the names of the manufacturer, Topping, Maynard & Hobron, which was located at 667 Broadway in New York City.

For the benefit of our numerous correspondents and the trade in general, we would announce that the Land and Water Hats are made in scarlet, butcher blue and white and sell at $9.00 a dozen.

The Mash Hats are made in scarlet, butcher blue, navy blue, seal brown, brown mixed and white. Price $12.00 per dozen.

They are just the thing for the sea shore or mountains, and in fact for all athletic sports.

Handsome lithograph show cards go with the goods.

Without the ad, I would have assumed that the Mash Hat and the Land and Water Hat were one and the same. But look closely and you can see that some of the hats have a very wide brim but others have a smaller one.

The woman tennis player is wearing the Mash Hat, and the man has just lost his Land and Water.

The woman sailor and the poor man taking a dunking are wearing the Land and Water, while the guy holding the rudder is wearing a Mash Hat.

The women’s clothing helps to date the poster. Both are wearing the Natural Form, or Princess line, with just a hint of the bustle that came back into fashion in 1882.

I love the woman painter with her somewhat awkward pose.

I would guess that the great majority of these posters got cut apart and ended up in scrapbooks, as scrapbook making was a big Victorian craze. It’s a miracle this one survived, and in such beautiful condition.

According to a 1919 obituary for Benjamin Hobron in The American Hatter, the company was formed in 1868 along with Howell Topping and Frederick Maynard as partners. The partnership was dissolved in 1896, with Hobron going into the soap business and the other two keeping  in the hat trade. It appears that the firm finally closed in 1911 when Topping died.


Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing

Vintage Miscellany – July 28, 2019

It was 1935, and despite this peaceful scene overlooking Florence, there was something rotten in Italy.  But that does not seem to have affected Wally’s (second from right) “happy and educational” visit.

And now for some more current events…

  •   Can it be true? The 2020 spring exhibition of the Met’s Costume Institute is to be based on the Met’s own collection. I’m imagining a sort of greatest hits show featuring much of what has already been seen in recent years, but one can hope for some rarely seen treasures.
  •   And there will be an exhibition this fall showing off the collection of Sandy Schreier, which has been donated to the Met.
  •    Of all the sports women have participated in over the years, tennis seems to be the most fashion forward.
  •    This article about Red Wing boots shows just how hard it is to re-shore manufacturing.
  •    Playtex, maker of spacesuits
  •    A new book highlights the story of the destruction of the largely Jewish fashion industry of Berlin in the 1930s.
  •    How can a a pair of 1972 Nike shoes be worth $437,500?
  •    And will Babe Ruth’s uniform top them in price?
  •    Fashion historian Kate Strasdin has written a great post about the usefulness of social media in historical research.
  •    Museum workers are unionizing to help secure better pay.  Just because a person works for a non-profit does not mean that they should be asked to work for sub-standard pay.

  • Here’s Wally again, this time in Pisa with her Italian hostesses, the “cultured & aristocratic Guisti girls”. I love how all the hats are tilted at the same angle.


Filed under Vintage Miscellany