Tag Archives: 1910s

A Young Man’s Fancy by Coles Phillips, 1912

Last summer I posted two photos of art by Coles Phillips that I discovered at an antiques show.  And while I loved the prints, there were a bit pricey, so I promptly forgot about Mr. Phillips and his pretty girl art.

Yesterday I decided to visit one of my (formerly) favorite places to find vintage treasures.  What was five years ago a thriving and exciting antiques market is now pretty much not worth the two hour drive.  In a town that once had six great antique stores and malls, one has closed, two are selling a great deal of reproductions, and one is barely clinging to life.

After four hours of “shopping” I’d found nothing to buy and little to even photograph to share here.  I was about to skip the barely clinging to life mall, then thought I’d might as well waste another twenty minutes.  This is a place that once had antiques and vintage items over three floors of an old department store, and now there are just a few booths left.

I spotted a rack of books, and an old, beat up, plain volume caught my eye,  A Young Man’s Fancy by Coles Phillips.  I couldn’t place the name, but I knew I’d encountered it somewhere, so I picked up the book and opened it.  The first print reminded me of the ones I’ve loved so much last summer.  And the price was more than reasonable.  Suddenly the trip didn’t seem wasted any longer.

The book is a series of sappy poems, or maybe it is just one long poem, but that is not what is important.  The prints are incredible, and there is a brief biographical sketch in the book that explains Phillips’s technique, which he called the Fadeaway Girl.  He usually used his wife as his model and the book is dedicated to her.

Phillips developed this technique after observing how the figure of a musician friend, dressed in black in a darkened room, seemed to be just suggested by his face, hands, and white shirt while his body faded into the room.  He worked on the concept in black and white, and then in 1908  did his first fadeaway in color for a magazine cover.  It was a huge success, and Phillips became a highly sought after commercial artist.  He did numerous magazine covers and he also designed ads for magazines.  You can read more about Coles Phillips and see more of his work at American Art Archives.

Many of the illustrations in my book appeared first in ads or on magazine covers. Not all use the fadeaway technique, but the fadeaways are my favorites.

The book sells online for $70 up, but my copy is in terrible shape, so the real value is in the prints.  I will most likely have my favorites framed.

The small pictures on the screen in this print are tiny reproductions of the other prints in the book.

Proof that you really cannot judge a book by its cover.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities

McCall’s, October, 1917

In 1917 there were more women than ever working outside the home.  Many who were doing the jobs of farm and factory laborers had begun to wear pants or overalls on the job.  Suits were fashionable for the office set, and they often had an air of the military about them.

But tea and evening dresses remained very feminine in the traditional sense of the word.  Frocks were shorter, but no less frilly.  The skirts were quite full, and fell from a waistline that was above the natural waist, but was not quite an Empire waist.   In just a few years the waist would disappear and the skirt would become very narrow.   To learn more about the tubular styles of the early 1920s, you need to read Witness2Fashion’s analysis of them here and here.

I love this cover from 1917.  I wonder if she really did pair the yellow beads with her pretty blue dress.



Filed under Fashion Magazines

1910s Yale Knitting Mills Bathing Dress

I’m in the process of photographing some of my swimwear for another project, and I found something interesting about this swim dress from the 1910s.  The dress would have been worn with bloomers, which you can barely detect in my photo.  The white trim at the hem is appliqued silk, as is the collar and the white  piping.  Even though this was made by the Yale Knitting Mills, the fabric is actually a fine woven wool.

What makes this interesting is that the seams were finished by an overlock stitch, a technique that is more associated with clothing made in the 1970s and later.

The overlock machine, or serger, was invented by Joseph Merrow in the 1880s, and it was manufactured by his company,  the Merrow Machine Company.  They have been making overlock machines ever since.

Even though the overlock machine has been around a long time, it was not until the 1970s that the use of it to finish seams became prevalent in the sewing industry.  Before the 1970s seams were often pinked, or they might have been turned under and stitched like a little hem.  Shirts and blouses often had flat-fell seams, and lingerie and blouses often had French seams.

Because overlocked seams are so seldom seen in older clothing, it can be confusing when you do see it.  Years ago, when I was pretty new to buying old clothes, I found a really great sarong style Hawaiian print dress at a thrift store.  It looked so much like a 1950s dress, but there was some serging in the construction and because I could remember when serged seams started appearing in clothes in the 1970s, I was really confused.  But fortunately I did buy the dress and then did a little research and determined that the dress was from the 50s.

Since then I’ve seen lots of examples from the 1960s and earlier, but this 1910s swimdress is the earliest example I’ve ever seen.  What is interesting is that swimwear seems to be one of the industries where the overlock was more commonly used.  I’ve seen quite a few older swimsuits that have overlocked seams.

The Yale Knitting Mills were owned by brothers Isidore, Henry and Joseph Hirschmann, and was located at 512 Broadway in New York.  They made wool bathing suits, sweaters and golf vests.

A sad note: Brother Joseph died at the age of 38 in 1916, as a result of “a complication of diseases.”  Brother Henry evidently drowned himself a year later, leaving a wife and eight children.  According to brother Isidore he had been suffering from melancholia for several months.  The last mention I can find of the company is in 1922.

The bathing dress has buttons on the side front to make it easier to slip over the head.

Great detailing on the sleeves.


Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing

Cosmopolitan, April, 1913

It’s a warm and beautiful day in the southern mountains.  It’s enough to make one want to put on the sporty duds and crank up the motorcar for an adventure in the country.

In 1913, Cosmopolitan was a very different magazine from the publication Helen Hurley Brown transformed in the mid 1960s.    Established in 1886 as a family magazine, by the time William Randolph Hearst bought it in 1905, it was primarily a literary publication.  Besides Jack London, contributors included Willa Cather, H.G. Wells, Upton Sinclair, Edith Wharton, and Ida Tarbell.

The magazine was also known for their beautiful covers which featured illustrations by artists such as James Montgomery Flagg, Francis Attwood, and Harrison Fisher, who did this cover.

Illustrator: Harrison Fisher
Copyright: Hearst Corporation


Filed under Fashion Magazines

Say It With Flowers, 1918

I know I usually share a magazine cover on Saturday, but today I’m in full wedding mode, as a beloved nephew is getting married later this afternoon.

So have a virtual glass of champagne and help me toast Betsy and Andy on their new life together.

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Filed under Advertisements

Vogue, July 15, 1915

After a week in which we spent a lot of time at our local garden shop, even after spending time in the backyard with a shovel, I’m still loving this illustration and all the hydrangeas.  If only my own garden looked so lush!


Filed under Fashion Magazines

Vogue, December 15, 1915

Too marvelous for words!



Filed under Fashion Magazines