Sorry about the huge image, but I do have a reason for making it so large!
I was going back through this blog, looking at some older posts when I realized that I needed to do some badly needed maintenance. Between the seven years I’ve been writing the Vintage Traveler, and the fact that I moved it from another site to wordpress, there were quite a few missing images and crazy text errors. So I started out to spend the afternoon fixing the problems. I quickly realized this project is going to take more than one afternoon.
When I started this blog in 2005, blogging was a very new thing. I was posting only occasionally, and my photos were sized from tiny to huge and I didn’t even always use the same font. Most of my early posts were around 100 words!
But looking back was good, because I can clearly see how I’ve grown as a blogger, that my perspective of fashion history has been more clearly defined. I’ve found some old posts that I’ll be re-writing and re-posting, as I’ve learned so much in the passing years that what I would say about an object today might be totally different from how I saw it in 2007.
One thing that really struck me was how important a consistent look is to a blog. It was only about two years ago that I tried to size every image at the same width. Some of my images were so small even I had a hard time telling what they were supposed to be. So I’ve been retaking and re-scanning some that were in sad shape.
I was rewarded for this work by today’s ad. You might recall that I found a pair of Kumfortites a few months back, and today while looking for something else, I found this ad in a 1948 magazine. And yes, the ad is huge, but it is also consistent!
One of the difficulties of collecting sportswear and accessories is that often these items get worn completely and are discarded rather than saved. I’ve said it before, it’s easier to find a 1930s ballgown than a pair of shorts from that era. It’s easier to find a pair of fine kid gloves from the 1940s than a pair of colorful knitted mittens for playing in the snow. And it is much easier to find fine nylon stockings than it is to find a pair of utilitarian tights.
I was pretty happy to run across this pair in a nearby antique store. They are made from finely knit wool, have an older Best & Co. label, and best of all, there is a US patent number on the label. Having a patent number is like a gift of knowledge. From it you can search for the original paperwork and gain valuable insights into what makes the item special – at least to the designer.
An easy way to look up a patent is to use Google Patents. You just type in the number and it goes either directly to the patent or to a page of search results. My tights came up first on the list of search results. As you can see, my tights were patented by Florence C. Barnard. She filed the patent in 1937, but the design was not approved until 1940. Because my tights have the patent number printed on them, they have to date after the patent was approved.
The paperwork consists of the drawings and diagrams I’m showing, but there are also two pages of written description. It is in those pages that I was able to gain some insight into this design.
Ms. Barnard was living in St. Paul, Minnesota, and as a resident of that city she was concerned with a garment that would keep the legs warm while retaining the appearance of full-fashioned stockings. That would explain why the seam is located on the backs of the legs rather than on the sides. The lack of a foot is interesting. Presumably, the wearer would wear socks over the feet, with would be covered by her skates or boots.
From the patent, written by Florence C. Barnard:
This invention relates to a novel garment… as an added protection against cold weather, and which is more particularly designed for outdoor use.