Recently I added this little catalog of automobile coats to my archive. There’s no date on it, but I think it is probably from 1906. Today in the US we’d call a waterproof coat a rain coat, a garment that gets us from the car to the house without letting us get too wet. But in 1906. a waterproof coat was designed for protection in the automobile. That’s because in 1906, most cars were open, meaning they had no roof for protection against the weather.
To solve the problem of wet and dust, the long coat became standard wear in an open auto. In rainy conditions, one wore a waterproof. When it was dry and dusty, one wore a duster.
Bailey’s Rubber Store specialized in rubber, or waterproof, coats, of course. As the name of the business implies, Bailey’s sold much more than just coats. They were a source of many items made of rubber.
Charles J. Bailey went into the rubber selling business in the 1880s. He had been an importer and seller of laces, but he began experimenting with rubber, and actually invented several new products. One was the rubber flesh brush, meant to increase circulation and improve the complexion. The brush was advertised widely, and became a big seller for Bailey. In 1889 he gave up lace entirely and opened Bailey’s Rubber Store in Boston.
As I said, there’s no date on this little catalog, but I did find a great reference to it in a 1906 issue of The Rubber Age, a trade magazine. A short feature informed the reader that Bailey’s Rubber Store had just published a catalog of waterproof coats. The catalog measured 3 1/4 by 7 inches, and had 24 pages, exactly the same as my little catalog.
There were coats costing as much as $60 in this catalog, but none were as practical as this $10 coat with hood and wind cuffs.
In these pages of coats, you can clearly see the influence of the S-bend silhouette, popular from around 1900 through 1910.
Bailey’s sold both men’s and women’s coats from Burberry’s in London.
Besides coats, Bailey’s also carried goggles and other accessories necessary for motoring.
Charles Bailey died in 1918, and at that time the business was incorporated. Unfortunately the business failed, and bankruptcy was declared in 1921.