Arranging a “Ritzy” Shoe and Hosiery Department: 1922

stockings and shoes

“A Better Tie-Up Between Shoes and Hosiery

The Woman Customer Friend Has a Few Ideas Which
Were Accepted by the Merchant

(From Queen Quality Between UsJune, 1922, Issue)

When the Wanderer put his head in at the office door of my shoe store last Saturday morning, his always pleasant face wore a broad smile.

“Come out of your shell, old turtle,” he greeted me cheerfully. “Mrs. Wanderer’s up front buying out your hosiery department. Hold on, though!” he added as I jumped up, “‘phone your wife to come down to lunch with us—so you and I can talk shop in peace.”

Now the Wanderer’s wife was not “buying out” my hosiery department. Yet she and the clerk were deep in conversation.

“I was just following in the footsteps of my illustrious husband and giving this young lady a lot of perfectly good advice about running a business she knows more about than I do,” she said as we shook hands.

Friend Wife Talks

“Charley, for goodness’ sake when you let Nick talk you into adding this hosiery department, why didn’t you make him tell you how to sell the stuff? It’s miles out of your line.”‘

“Why, it’s doing about as well as I expected,” I replied. “It’s rather a novelty yet—women haven’t got used to buying hosiery in a shoe store, I guess.”

“Suppose you tell us how it ought to be managed,” said the Wanderer, meekly.

“Tell you?” scoffed his lady. “You’d never see it. But go on back to your lair and gossip for half an hour and I’ll show you.”

Obediently we retraced our steps—nor did we reappear until my wife came to call us.

How She Trimmed the Case

Mrs. Wanderer—wearing an expression of supreme content—waited for us by the hosiery display case. This is what she’d put in it—an exact copy of the list I made that afternoon to refer to when arranging future displays.

Floor of Case (reading from left to right): a dark brown walking oxford with a pair of plain brown hose, matching exactly. Center, smoke, calf sport oxford trimmed in brown calf, accompanied by three pairs of hose, one a heavy smoke-colored silk, the second brown silk and wool clocked in orange, the third brown and gold heather mixed wool. Right end, tan walking oxford with matching hose.

First Shelf: left end, white cloth oxford, two pairs of hose, one heavy white silk clocked in red, the second a lighter weight plain white. Center, white cloth oxford with black calf trim with a pair of white silk hose clocked in black, and one pair of black clocked in white. Right end, white cloth strap pump with one pair white lace clocked silk hose, and one pair white drop-stitch stripe.

Top Shelf: left, a low heeled, single strap pump, patent vamp and beige suede quarter with a pair of beige hose exactly matching the suede, and a second pair of beige with black clocks. Center, patent two strap with Louis heel, accompanied by three pairs of hose: one black, one white (self clocked), one blond. Right, gray suede elastic side three strap, with one pair plain gray hose, matching exactly, and another of paler gray clocked with the shade of the shoe itself.

Stunts Don’t Fool ‘Em

Now I’d always made it a point to show a sample of every style and color I had in stock, and I don’t mind confessing that showcase looked mighty empty.

Guess the Wanderer thought so, too, but that didn’t stump him.

“Going on the same principle as those milliners who put just one hat in the window—only not quite so much so?” he queried.

“No, you goose, that’s nothing but a selling fad—a pose that doesn’t fool us for a minute,” was the answer. “This is sense. Show a woman how what she wants or is thinking of buying, is going to look with something she’s got,” she added triumphantly.

“Of course!” seconded my wife.

This Was Her Psychology

Then, just in time to save me from having to admit that I didn’t “get her,” she continued—

“Look at that white shoe with the black trim. Any woman would buy white stockings to go with it. The less obvious but smarter thing is white clocked in black. Show her that—and sell her the hose. If she’s just a bit daring she’ll like the black with the white clocks—and she’ll know without your reminding her that she can wear that same stocking with any all black shoe. Work it backwards. Suppose she has some black and white stockings, but no shoes like these—you’ve put into her head how stunning that combination would be with her white satin sport skirt and black silk sweater. Now do you see daylight?”

“You mean make my shoes sell appropriate stockings to go with them—and my stockings sell shoes?” I questioned.

Each Display Helps the Other

“Of course,” was the calm reply. “You’re selling ‘footwear’ now—not just shoes. Well, then, why not make your two departments help each other instead of letting your poor little hosiery department struggle along by itself?

“Why,” with a smile, “haven’t you seen shirts and the right scarfs to go with them displayed together in the men’s shops for years and years—and you never thought of anything so obvious as this? I’m ashamed of you both—but particularly of Nick, who ought to know better.”

To be perfectly truthful with you I’d not much notion that her arrangement would work such a whole lot better than mine—but fortunately I didn’t voice the thought—for right now I’m mailing orders for an extra supply of several styles of fairly high-priced stockings. And when I bought the original lots I rather had my doubts if I could sell a dozen pairs of each style!

There’s another queer twist to this little experience. A friend of mine—one of the members of our Board of Trade council— told me the other day his daughter said we had a “Ritzy” footwear shop! And she’s just home from a six months’ visit with an aunt in New York.

Oh, well, you never can tell, but it always pays to listen respectfully to a clever woman anyhow. 

Boot and Shoe Recorder: The Magazine of Fashion Footwear, Volume 81, Part 2, 1922

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: With hemlines beginning to rise in the 1910s, ornamented stockings were more popular than ever: one finds stockings embellished with beads and lace inserts, striped like sticks of candy, embroidered with whimsical figures or even the owner’s name about the ankle, or hand-painted by artists.

One of the more mystifying developments in American slang was the 1920s penchant for phrases such as “Friend Wife” and “Friend Husband,” always used in a somewhat humorous domestic context.  Surely the persons using the phrase could not all be Quakers? This 1914 squib does not illuminate the origins of the phrase, but does explain how one observer saw it.

“Friend Wife”

The slang straw shows how the thought wind blows. This term, “Friend Wife,” is now in good and regular standing with such observers as the cartoonist Briggs of the Chicago and new York “Tribunes,” colymnists like F.P.A. [Franklin P. Adams] and B.L.T. [Bert Leston Taylor], and story-writers such as George Randolph Chester. It is very doubtful is the phrase would have caught on a generation ago. To our ears it sums up an aspect of the change that has come about in the daily status of women; it recognizes in a half-humorous way the practical working equality of the sexes that is a great fact in modern life. In the light of this careless phrase we see clearly how empty is the chatter of the antisuffragists and the drivel of the so-called feminists. Most people are still very much like human beings.  Collier’s, Vol. 53, 1914


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

From Opera to Bread Line: 1904

Two Women in an Opera Box, Mary Cassatt, 1881

Two Women in an Opera Box, Mary Cassatt, 1881


A New York Transition— Fashion in the Limelight, Beggardom Huddling in the Shadows— An Evening Begun Where Jewels Glittered, Ended Where Derelicts Shivered.

Last Friday night was a great occasion at the opera.

It was Melba’s first appearance there after an absence of four years, and it was this season’s initial performance of “La Boheme,” with Caruso as Rodolphe. The house alone was worth going to see. I do not believe there was a vacant seat in it. The five tiers were solidly set in lines of human faces like a mosaic.

In the two upper galleries a phalanx of standing figures made a dark fringe against the illuminated walls. Every box was full; two or three women in light-colored dresses in the front, and the black forms of men grouped behind them. The clothes these women wore represented untold thousands; the jewels must have run up into the millions.

Between the acts the corridors were full of promenading people, who kept stopping and assuring each other that it was a great performance and a great house. A stream of spectators poured in and out through the doorways into each gallery to stand on the open spaces at the sides and through opera-glasses study the boxes. They were worth a careful survey.

Some of the most beautiful women and distinguished men in New York, the Empire City of the country, were there on view. It was a great showing of the city’s richest and fairest in their bravest clothes, attired for inspection and conquest.

When Prince Henry of Prussia was taken to the opera on the gala night arranged for his especial benefit, one of his comments had been that he had never before seen “so many crowned heads together at one time.”

This, as far as I know, is the one and only occasion on which that diplomatic prince permitted himself a sarcasm. There were fewer crowned heads the other night, because, I believe, tiaras are not so much the fashion as they were when the prince was here. There were only four or five in the grand tier. One regal one, encrusted with diamonds and about the size of a tea-cup, graced the head of Mrs. George Gould, who was, to my thinking, almost the most beautiful woman in that glittering horseshoe of fashion and wealth. She is tall and slender, has black hair, large, dark eyes, and is a radiant, gracious-looking person.

There were Vanderbilt and Astor ladies who also sparkled, and some of whom were pretty women, too. I noticed that those who did not wear diamond crowns wore wreaths of leaves in their hair. A good half of the women present wore these wreaths, of a narrow green leaf, and so arranged that they had a pointed effect in the front, such as one notices in the laurel crown Virgil wears in Dore’s pictures of “The Inferno.” Black-haired women wore gold leaves, and some of the blondes wore small pink roses in round wreaths that set well down on their heads.

As for the jewels, they were of all kinds, long and short strings of pearls being the most popular. A good many women had on those high pearl dog-collars that give the wearer the effect of being garrotted. They are an extremely ugly fashion, but I suppose they have their uses for women who have scrawny throats. Necklaces of diamonds, or diamonds set with other stones, adorned all sorts of necks, from the slender milky-white one of the young bride, to the coarse-grained, adipose-covered one of the old matron. Some women wore necklaces pinned across the front of their bodices, where they either glittered among laces or made contrasts of color with the tint of the dress. One strange-looking girl in black velvet, with a pair of extraordinarily thin shoulders emerging from the low-cut neck of her gown, wore an enormous bowknot pin of diamonds just below her belt on one side of her stomach. Altogether it was a dazzling and splendid jewel show, a sumptuous exhibit of what New York can do.

The women thus decorated wore pale-colored dresses of soft, clinging materials. It was noticeable that black or deep-colored gowns were scarce. I saw one exceedingly handsome girl in ruby velvet, which set with a severe classic simplicity over a fine figure. This dress, and the black velvet one on the lady with the diamond bowknot, were the only dark-colored ones I saw on young women. White seemed the favorite color — white in lace that fell in mist-like softness, in clinging crepe embroidered with silver, in vaporous chiffons encrusted with rich laces and weighted with spangles, in lustrous, heavy silks and bloomy velvets. When Caruso was emitting sounds so exquisite, so melodious, so tender and beautiful that the most indifferent must have given ear, these pale-clad women sat in a motionless semicircle, their forms ghost-like under the lowered lights, the black background of listening men behind them, and behind that again the red walls of the boxes gleaming clearly under the glow of half-extinguished electric bulbs.

We talked it over afterward at Mouquin’s, as we ate oysters and drank beer, and decided it certainly had been a great performance and a great house. We commented on the display of jewels, on the beauty of the women, the splendor of the clothes, and the amount of money represented in that vast concourse of the rich and fashionable of a metropolis. Finally I said that, all things considered, I thought New York could make as fine a showing for such an occasion as any city in the world.

“New York,” said my companion, “can make as fine a showing in almost any direction as any city in the world. We’ve seen a gala night at the opera. Do you want to come and see another strange and characteristic New York sight?”

I said I did. But what and where was it? It was very cold, late, almost twelve o’clock.

“Well, Cinderella having been to the ball and seen the beau monde disporting itself, can now take a Broadway car and go down to Eleventh Street and see  ‘The Bread Line.’ Does she want to come?”

Cinderella thought she did, but would she have time?

Truly it was hard to leave the warmth and brightness of the restaurant and face the streets held in the grip of an iron frost. But she had never seen “The Bread Line.”

“It will strike you with full force to-night,” urged her companion, “after all that pomp and circumstance at the opera-house. It’s just the psychological moment.”

I don’t know whether there are any “Bread Lines” in the Far West. I hear there are several in New York, but the best-known is at the old Vienna Bakery on Eleventh Street, between Wanamaker’s and Grace Church. It was established years ago by Fleischman, the founder of the bakery, who provided a loaf of bread and a cup of coffee for any human creature who at midnight should come to his bakery and demand it. No questions were asked, no qualifications required.

Fleischman, the baker, knew that the mass of those who would take advantage of his generosity would be the city’s derelicts, who live on the charity of their fellows. But he must also have known that there were often decent men who wanted bread, who were ashamed to beg for it, and who could come to his bakery at midnight to get a loaf.

It has been named “The Bread Line” because of its length. Long before midnight it extends from the door behind the bakery, midway up the block, to Broadway, and round the corner toward the entrance to Grace Church. Sometimes it is longer than this, sometimes shorter. As we approached up the loneliness of the deserted, icy street we could see it, dim and motionless, like a sinister black snake, each figure a vertebrae in its sinuous length. The cold was intense, and the men stood close together. Most of them were silent: they seemed held in the deadly grip of the frost and their own misery. We were near them when midnight struck, and with a slow, shuffling movement the column began to move forward. At the upper end we could see it breaking into dark segments, some of which disappeared into the night, while others stayed about, eating their bread in the ice-bound street at midnight.

bread line

We drew away into a darkened angle where we could not be seen, and for a space watched them. Some took their loaves, hid them under their coats, and walked away rapidly with firm, quick steps. Others ate them then and there, with a hungry, fierce indifference.

We saw several who, with the bread hidden, went back to the end of the line and joined it again. From the huge pail of coffee at the door a man ladled dippers- full into tin cups, and with his loaf of bread each recipient of the dead baker’s bounty was given a cup. Several did not take them. Most did and stood about drinking the coffee and biting pieces off the loaf. Here there were a few desultory remarks interchanged. But for the most part the whole business was executed in a grim silence.

It was difficult to see what manner of men they were. One can not stare at a brother in affliction, even when he is standing at midnight in “The Bread Line.” Many of those I saw looked as if they might be of that vast class of incompetents who live upon the city’s generosity. But here and there a face struck your eye that was not the face of the drunk, the tramp, or the beggar. We both noticed a young man having the appearance of a gentleman, who was without an overcoat and had gloves on. He took his loaf, thrust it under his coat, and fled. A fresh-faced lad, stalwart and ruddy, who looked like a boy in from the country, was embarrassed and ashamed. He kept making jocular remarks to his neighbors and then giving loud, sheepish laughs — the only sound of that sort to be heard in that dismal assemblage. He carried a new shovel in his hand, and had evidently been working among the snow-shovelers. For these and their like, Fleischman, the baker, must have established “The Bread Line.”

The column was thinning as we passed down the street to Fourth Avenue. This way and that through the still, deserted thoroughfares we could see the men dispersing — dark, furtive figures slipping away to the holes and corners where the derelicts of a great city make their homes. A step behind us caused me to turn, and I saw a tall, thin man, with white hair and mustache, and a face of an extraordinary transparent pallor, coming toward us with his loaf of bread bulging beneath his coat. He had deep-set, darkly circled eyes, and in the whiteness of his face they had an uncanny look of haggard intensity. He went by us staring fixedly before him, like a sleepwalker. I commented on his appearance, to which my companion, more experienced in the seamy side of the city, observed, laconically, ” Looks like a morphine fiend; probably lives by ‘The Bread Line.'”

The chill of the night felt sharper than ever as we went for the car. Certainly New York could make a good showing in all directions. The opera-house and “The Bread Line” would have both been hard to beat.

Geraldine Bonner.

New York, December 19, 1904.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 5 January 1905

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Miss Bonner was an American journalist and novelist with a keen eye for detail. While there were “soup kitchens” in England and Ireland, like the work-houses they often provided a serving of humiliation with the proffered sustenance. Cold charity, indeed. One wouldn’t wish to aid any but the Deserving Poor.

Here is a most interesting article on the Bread Line.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


A Little Girl’s Government Claim: 1918

A bisque doll, perhaps similar to the one shattered by the guns.

A bisque doll, perhaps similar to the one shattered by the guns.


Booming Guns Break Child’s Doll and She Made a Government Claim.

Washington, D.C. One fine day several summers ago a little 7-year old girl was playing with her dolly at her home in Cape Cottage, Me. At intervals she paused in her play, as though frightened, and listened to a terrific booming that made the house tremble and the windows rattle. It was the sound of the great guns at Fort Williams, near Cape Elizabeth, and they boomed and kept on booming. And the house kept trembling and the windows kept rattling, and the little girl, whose name was Marian Coggeshall, grew more frightened, and at last she commenced to cry. Marian had placed her little doll on a chair and had crouched into a corner from fear. There was another loud boom of the great guns and again the house shook. And this time the chair trembled and dolly lost her balance and crashed to the floor, breaking into many pieces.

Marian was broken-hearted, for although the dolly was not very big, it was the little girl’s pet and she had grown to love it very much. And then she began to think of the cause of all the trouble. It was the big guns at the fort. She thought of the government that had set the guns to firing and she wondered if it would not give her a new doll to replace the broken one. A grown-up admirer of the little girl listened to her tearful tale and then told her that she had a just claim against the government and explained to her exactly how such claims were attended to, little thinking that Marian had any intention of placing the matter before the authorities at Washington. Marian said nothing, but she went to her little writing desk and penned the following letter:

“Delans Park, Cape Cottage, Me.—Dear Mr. Adjutant General: When the big guns were fired last week it shook the house so badly that my Precious dolly fell onto the floor and was broken to Pieces. May I ask the Government for another dolly. She was not very big, but She was my pet and I loved her very much.

Yours truly,

“Marian Coggeshall, Seven Years Old.”

The letter was received by the Adjutant General and given the official designation of document No. 1,949,121. The matter was referred to the quartermaster general for investigation. Then it went to the commanding general of the eastern division of the army, Maj. Gen. William H. Barry, stationed at New York. Finally the matter reached Col. George T. Bartlett, who commanded the artillery division at Fort Williams.Col. Bartlett called Mrs. Coggeshall on the telephone and told her of the official document. Marian’s mother was greatly surprised, for she knew nothing of her daughter’s action, and she assured the officer that Mr. Coggeshall would relieve the government of Marian’s claim and buy the new doll himself. So Marian’s father bought her the doll and the matter ended right there. But Marian had a perfect right to ask the government to replace her doll, and if her mother had permitted it her claim probably would have been granted. Her letter still is on file at the war department here, and is regarded as one of the most novel documents ever received by the adjutant general.

Perrysburg [OH] Journal 6 June 1918: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Fort Williams was home to multiple artillery batteries. One can imagine multiple claims arising from the vibration of the guns, but one doubts that they were all attended to so promptly as this whimsical one. Mrs Daffodil has previously written on a doll present at an historic military event here. Do check her postings under Dolls and Toys for other poignant, amusing, and macabre stories about dolls.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

A Haunted Cloth: 1923


A piece of embroidered yellow Chinese silk, c. 1770s

A piece of embroidered yellow Chinese silk, c. 1770s


By E.B. Gibbes

The following account of a strange episode that occurred in connection with Mrs. Dowden (Travers Smith) and myself, may perhaps be of interest to your readers. I went to her house one evening in October, 1923, and by way of testing what influence had come with me, she took some foolscap paper and a pencil. Then closing her eyes she prepared herself for writing. I placed two or three fingers lightly on the back of her right hand. Immediately a curious communication was received in a sprawly writing. It ran as follows: “Why have you kept me waiting. I have been waiting a long time to speak to you. You have my cloth, you must give it back to me. It should have been wrapped round my body.” The allusion conveyed nothing to me at the time. We paused when the end of the page was reached to read the writing. Mrs. Dowden said she had a piece of cloth that had once been wrapped round a mummy. She produced this and placed it on the paper. Resting her hand on it a moment, she asked aloud if this were the cloth alluded to. Immediately her hand wrote, “No, no, that is not my cloth. It is another cloth. You have no right to it. You must make a big fire and burn it. It is mine, it should be ashes as I am and you will soon be.” (This individual seemed a cheery companion. It subsequently transpired that the communication came from a member of the fair sex.) We read the page and resumed the conversation. I remarked that if this piece of cloth was not hers we did not know to what she referred. At once the hand wrote violently, “No, it is not hers; it is YOURS.” “Oh, mine,” I replied; “I can’t think of what you are alluding to. Tell us where you come from.” “CHINA” I repeated that I did not know anything about a piece of cloth, and asked her what it was like. She then described some material with a yellow gold background, which was much embroidered ad almost covered with work. We stopped and read this second page and commenced a third. She wrote, “You must give it back.” I replied that I could not do so as it was not in my possession. She continued to state that it was, and that I must make a fire and burn it, so that she and it would be united. Here the telephone bell rang and we did not resume this experiment.

That evening on returning to my flat, into which I had recently moved, I recollected that I had a long piece of old Chinese embroidery answering the description in the script. I had had it about twenty years, and did not recollect whether I had brought I myself form the East, or whether it had been given to me. A few days previously I had taken it out of its box and tried its effect on the piano. However, the colours did not harmonize in the room, and I put it away without another thought.

Mrs. Dowden came to my flat a few nights later. I decided I would get Johannes [One of Mrs Dowden’s spirit guides, who had an odd name for a Jewish neo-platonist who lived several centuries before Jesus.] to tell me something, if possible, about this material. I placed it on my Ouija board and Johannes wrote as follows: “This came from a country far over the sea, not a very hot place, rather high in the mountains, and I see people there making it. It is a long, long time before they finish it. Then I see it sold in an open place. It is sold to a very ugly woman, so ugly that she frightens people. She hold this up and examines it, and after a time she carries it away. It has passed out of her hands into the hands of another woman. She had left a very strong impression on it. She is a very evil person I am afraid, full of nasty habits, and she gives it to a younger woman who is not so disagreeable, but very much given to complaining and objecting to everything that meets her on her way through life. This thing has been used at a funeral as a decoration; it was not round the dead body, but has been over a coffin. The other woman had it for a long time. She was quite different, often ill; she too has passed on here and I think she is near us now. I feel her coming; here she is.” Mrs. Dowden then felt a different control. Her hand was pushed violently about the Ouija board and the following communication was written at lightning speed.

“I want my cloth, it is my mother’s cloth. I want it; you must not have it. I used to put it round me; it should have been on my body.” “Why do you bother about it now?” I asked. “It is an heirloom. It ought to have been on my coffin.” I explained that now it was in good hands, that I would take great care of it, and tried to console her by remarking that it would eventually become dust. I told her that, as far as I was concerned, I had come by it honestly, that it had been bought and paid for and not stolen, and suggested she thought of something else. Mrs. Dowden’s hand wrote in reply: “I know I have a lot to learn, but it is my cloth and you must burn it.” I remarked that it seemed very silly to make so much fuss about a piece of material of its kind and assured her I would take good care of it. She replied: “You are a Christian, you do not understand. I will go, but I will watch. This is the substance of the old dame’s remarks. She has not been heard of since.

Now to what can we attribute this communication? Is it an example of subconscious invention? Or was the old lady’s soul really stirred into its memories by the production of her cloth? Did her spirit really speak to us?

Had the first allusion to the old embroidery been made at my own place with the material on or near the table one might have attributed this to the invention, perhaps, of our subconscious minds. As it was, however, it came seemingly from nowhere at Mrs. Dowden’s own house where there was no connection whatsoever, she never having seen or heard of this cloth; and when I took it out I had never given a thought as to its hidden memories.

Occult Review October 1925

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A curious episode, indeed, where an ancient Chinese lady writes and speaks perfect English. Of course the Spiritualist explanation is that the English-speaking medium is the conduit and naturally she would translate the spirit’s remarks into her native tongue. Since Miss Gibbes had only seen the fabric a few days before, it seems a bit disingenuous to rule out the influence of the subconscious mind.

Mrs. Dowden is Hester Dowden/Hester Travers Smith, an Irish Spiritualist medium who claimed communications from Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare and other literary notables.

E.B. Gibbes was member of the Society for Psychical Research and a friend and mentor to medium Geraldine Cummins. She took Miss Cummins into her Chelsea home for the better part of several years and encouraged the medium’s automatic writings.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

A Dog to Match Milady’s Gown: 1890, 1900

Harrison Fisher print of girl and colour-co-ordinated dog.

Harrison Fisher print of girl and colour-co-ordinated dog.



Pet dogs are so fashionable among- the large class of society women who live for dress and show that they may almost be said to lead the fashion. Dresses are chosen to suit the colour of the dog, or the dog to suit the colour that most becomes the wearer. The soft browns of the dachshund, the mouse grey of the greyhound, the red brown of the Gordon setter, and the jet black and snow white of the Pomeranians, not to mention the perfect beige colour of some of the French poodles, give enough variety to insure the women choosing becoming dogs. The dogs themselves seem quite conscious of this added charm bestowed upon them, and are quite ready to have the collar or tie that gives the little contrast that is needed to match the touch of colour at the throat, belt, or lining of the coat.

It is not so many years since a certain fashionable woman bought herself a grey velvet gown to match the skin or coat of her greyhound. The picturesque effect was undeniable, and the woman’s success that year was unprecedented. The dachshunds have lately been chosen by young girls who can wear that warm shade of brown to advantage. “Give me a piece of material as nearly the colour of my dog’s coat as possible,” has been a request that has been often heard lately.

For a widow, we are assured, there is nothing so fashionable to have and, it might be said, to hold, for these small dogs have to be held very often, than the jet black Pomeranians. To be sure the fur, or coat, has more gloss than is generally allowed in deep mourning, but a crape bow or a bow of mourning ribbon remedies all that. These little black Pomeranians, though, are not entirely relegated to deep mourning, and are carried by women who wear black gowns trimmed with lace and with touches of light blue. An exceedingly smart black mousseline de soie gown, with a sash of brocaded blue ribbon, has a small black Pomeranian with a large blue satin bow at his throat; or, if expense is no object, as is generally the case with women who can afford to have the dogs match the gowns, a collar studded with turquoise.

When the polka dotted gowns came in fashion this summer, it was at first a little difficult to find anything that was just appropriate, for, after all, there are not so many dogs to choose from. But the solution to the difficulty has been easily solved by bringing back into fashion the black and white spotted coach dog, who looks remarkably well with any polka dotted costume. Then it is possible to find the fox terrier with a few dots also, and a little touch of corn colour or tan can easily be continued in the gown by introducing the colour in the vest, belt colour, or in the linings of the coat. An exceedingly smart white foulard gown with black dots has a short bolero of white pique, trimmed with a tan-coloured lace, as nearly as possible matching the colour on the dog. This has been found most attractive, and it is not difficult to get a dog to match; but, after all, the wisest plan with, all these colour schemes is to buy the dog first, and after he has been discovered to be a becoming colour it is not nearly so hard to get the right shading of the material to be used for the gown.—”Weekly Scotsman.” Auckland [NZ] Star 17 November 1900: p. 1

The same fad seems to have been originated a decade earlier by a New York lady.  One wonders if the dogs each had a specially-decorated silver or gold kennel.

The Fitness of Things

Not every woman is so mindful of the eternal fitness of things as one who is daily seen on Fifth avenue. She has one street gown in grays, from the top of her little gray toque to the gray gaiters. And when she wears the gray costume she is always accompanied by a small Italian greyhound, whose coat is of exactly the shade of her costume. About his neck is an oxidized silver collar, to which is attached a long silver chain fastened to her own silver girdle.

Her other promenade costume is a wonderful combination of red brown and gold and so is the dog that goes with it. He is an Irish setter whose silky brown coat exactly matches the tint of hers. About his neck is a gold collar with a gold chain attached, by which she leads him. New York Evening Sun. The Olean [NY] Democrat 3 April 1890: p. 3

From "Dogs and Puppies," 1908

From “Dogs and Puppies,” 1908

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This is the week of The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City, where one can see all the fashionable breeds, whose handlers are quite eclipsed by their charges’ sartorial elegance.  Mrs Daffodil has seen ladies who bore a strong physical resemblance to their dogs, but colour co-ordinating one’s wardrobe to harmonize with wee Tuffet’s coat is—in Mrs Daffodil’s opinion—barking.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



The Reign of the Teddy Bear: 1907

“Buster Borwn” Teddy preparing to assault a child’s fancy and follow it up with an attack on the parents’ pocketbook.

“Buster Borwn” Teddy preparing to assault a child’s fancy and follow it up with an attack on the parents’ pocketbook.


His Juvenile Constituents, the American Children, Will Listen to No Talk About Refusing To Run For Another Term.

Have you a little Teddy bear in your house? Or a big Teddy bear—big enough, quite, to wear the five-year-old son and heir’s cap and sweater— or maybe a middle-sized Teddy bear that belongs to the baby?


Of course. As well ask: is there a dishpan in your house? Or: would you like to own a motor-car?

The answer is quite as obvious. For of course you have a Teddy bear, or your wife has, it you have a wife, or your children have, if you have children—in fact, the children, more likely than not, have a whole menagerie of them, from the smallest little brown beastie, which costs twenty-five cents, to the biggest white polar species that costs twenty-five dollars.

And still they come.

Two years ago it was that the Teddy bear fad started. Two years ago at the winter resorts babies were lugging around these quaint furry little animals. They were small then, and for the most part decorated with a huge pink or blue ribbon neck-bow.

Grown people stopped the babies and took their Teddy bears away from them to examine them.

Weren’t they the cutest things ever? The Teddy bears and the babies, of course.

And then, after the grown people had examined these cunning toys sufficiently, they hied them to the nearest toy or novelty shop and bought a Teddy bear. which was shipped by express or mail to a favorite niece or nephew.

“My. I’d like to see Johnny when he opens that!” they’d exclaim proudly.

And. indeed. it was worth while to see a youngster with his first Teddy bear.

We say that two years ago the Teddy bear fad started. Is it fair, perhaps, to call it a fad? A thing isn’t a fad when it keeps growing and growing and gets enlarged upon and has noted sociologists decry it. For, of course, too, you know that with some folks the Teddy bear is under a horrible ban?

Some folks—college folks, too, but only professors, not students—say that a fondness for Teddy bears is going to make little girls like fox-terriers better than babies when they grow up. They say that someone ought to take the Teddy bears away from the mothers of the future and make them play with dolls instead.

It would be interesting to know just how many young folks under the age of seven there are who go to bed at night curled up with a Teddy bear. It might be a doll, of course, but we know instances when it was only a woolen comforter wrapped around a corn-cob, or one of those rubber things called a “pacifier,” which is so fearfully unhealthful for babies to nibble on. It isn’t quite fair to scold the Teddy bear too hard. More than that, we’ve even known of little girls who never cared for dolls at all, and yet when they grew up, they adored children.

Clad in a carpenter’s suit, this is the kind of a teddy bear that delights the small boy.

Clad in a carpenter’s suit, this is the kind of a teddy bear that delights the small boy.

And this is the sort of a teddy that makes every little girl forget about her old-fashioned dolls.
And this is the sort of a teddy that makes every little girl forget about her old-fashioned dolls.

The Teddy bear, however, is a sort of sexless toy. A boy can lug one around and still preserve his dignity. And better still, a girl, whose mother says she has grown too old to play with dolls, is never too old for a Teddy bear. This obviates the necessity of locking oneself in one’s room at the age, say. of fifteen and surreptitiously making clothes for some battered doll. One may make clothes for a Teddy bear quite openly and proudly. It is “cute” to dress a Teddy bear, no matter what age you are.

Even grown ladies have been known to carry them.

And college “men” always decorate their dens with them. Always you will find a Teddy bear the conspicuous ornament of a college-man’s room, and he will be wearing his owner’s sweater, most likely, with its significant letters, and his owner’s cap and pipe.

The girls’ basket-ball team always has a Teddy bear for its mascot, and if the rival team can only manage to steal this mascot it’s all up with the first team for that year. The girls take turns in guarding it and dressing it and taking it for airings in the baby’s go-cart, and, in short, of amusing themselves generally with this interesting and quaint toy.

Fortunately, children don’t have to pretend there is any other reason for their playing with the Teddy bear than just plain playing. That is only one of the many pleasures and compensations of childhood.

For instance. Mrs. Jones was once caught in the act of parading a Teddy bear. When rallied upon the fact, she was obliged to retort blushingly: “Nonsense! Of course not. I’m just taking this home to little Mary—I thought it was so cute and sweet I had to buy it for her.” Or, “Johnny left his Teddy bear at his cousin’s the last time we were down, and he misses it so. That’s why!” And there are many other excuses that might occur to the fertile brain of Mrs. Jones.

Yet the real fact is that mania and papa and uncle and auntie—even grandma herself—all show symptoms of violent Teddybearism. Pretty nearly everybody. grown— ups and infants alike. have at some time or other been made a present of a Teddy bear, or, failing of that, have made themselves a present of one. which in reality is the same thing.

And they all enjoy playing with the quaint toy animals quite as much as baby himself.

“Let me show you how to fix him!” says papa, firmly extracting a little brown Teddy bear from the resisting hands of his favorite son, little Johnny.

“So! See how funny he looks when you turn his head sideways. Isn’t he cute? There, there, you booby! Well, here, take him then! I was only trying to show you how… Mercy, if that child isn’t growing selfish!”

lf being President isn’t honor enough for Mr. Roosevelt. at least he has the distinction of being the godfather of the Teddy bear, and that ought to content any man, however ambitious.

The Teddy bear is a fixture and we don’t believe that his popularity will ever be shaken, if one may judge from the present enthusiasm that characterizes the custom.

They tried to oust him with those queer-looking little bull-pups, muzzled and appropriately ferocious. But it’s impossible to take a muzzled bull-pup to bed with you and cuddle it, and you can’t dress it up. There aren’t any clothes made that will fit a bow-legged bull-pup. Besides, if you’re an infant it frightens you just to look at it, and you can but vociferously voice your fright and thrust the animal out of your sight as quickly as possible. It is not so with the Teddy bear.

If you are older, you repudiate the bullpup because it isn’t human-looking. The Teddy bear is. Nor do you care for the stuffed pussy cats and rabbits. They aren’t human-looking, either.

Perhaps you think it’s the humanity of the Teddy bear that makes him so popular. Perhaps—but there’s another reason, and I’ll wager you’ve never thought of it, although you’ve always known it inside of you.

Do you realize that the Teddy bear is the first essentially American toy we’ve ever possessed?

The Teddy bear is an American from the ground up—name, shrewd Yankee face, independent strut, and all.

That’s the real reason why he’s more than a fad and justly popular.

The Scrap Book, Volume 4, 1907

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil assumes that all know the story of how President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a young black bear; the tale has gone down in American folklore with George Washington’s cherry tree. 15 February 1903 was said to be the date that the first teddy-bear was sold in the United States. Morris Michtom, of the Ideal Toy Company and Richard Steiff, of the German toy manufactory Steiff, both created their bears in 1903, apparently independently.

Of course, some of the greatest teddy-bears are British. Pooh and Paddington spring to mind.The American public might also be familiar with “Aloysius,” Sebatian Flyte’s teddy-bear in Bridgeshead Revisited by that disagreeable Mr Waugh. Waugh was at Oxford with John Betjeman, later Poet Laureate, and was inspired by Betjeman’s teddy, Archibald Ormsby-Gore. “Archie,” as he was familiarly known, had a stuffed elephant companion named “Jumbo.” Both toys attended the poet on his deathbed.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


The Lover’s Lawsuit: 1761



I was left a thousand pounds by an uncle, and being a man, to my thinking, very likely to get a rich widow, I laid aside all thoughts of making my fortune any other way, and without loss of time made my applications to one who had buried her husband about a week before. By the help of some of her she-friends, who were my relations, I got into her company when she would see no man besides myself and her lawyer, who is a little, shrivelled, spindle-shanked gentleman, and married to boot, so that I had no reason to fear him. Upon my first seeing her, she said in conversation within my hearing, that she thought a pale complexion the most agreeable either in man or woman: now, you must know, sir, my face is as white as chalk. This gave me some encouragement, so that to mend the matter, I bought a fine flaxen long wig that cost me thirty guineas, and found an opportunity of seeing her in it the next day. She then let drop some expressions about an agate snuff-box. I immediately took the hint and bought one, being unwilling to omit any thing that might make me desirable in her eyes. I was betrayed after the same manner into a brocade waistcoat, a swordknot, a pair of silver-fringed gloves, and a diamond ring. But whether out of fickleness, or a design upon me, I cannot tell; but I found by her discourse, that what she liked one day she disliked another: so that in six months space I was forced to equip myself above a dozen times.

A carved agate snuffbox. A lover and his dog?

A carved agate snuffbox. A lover and his dog?

As I told you before, I took her hints at a distance, for I could never find an opportunity of talking with her directly to the point. All this time, however, I was allowed the utmost familiarities with her lap-dog, and have played with it above an hour together, without receiving the least reprimand, and had many other marks of favour shown me, which I thought amounted to a promise. If she chanced to drop her fan, she received it from my hands with great civility. If she wanted any thing, I reached it for her. I have filled her tea-pot above an hundred times, and have afterwards received a dish of it from her own hands. Now, sir, do you judge if after such encouragements she was not obliged to marry me. I forgot to tell you that I kept a chair by the week, on purpose to carry me thither and back again.

Not to trouble you with a long letter, in the space of about a twelvemonth I have run out of my whole thousand pound upon her, having laid out the last fifty in a new suit of clothes, in which I was resolved to receive her final answer, which amounted to this, that she was engaged to another; that she never dreamt I had any such thing in my head as marriage; and that she thought I had frequented her house only because I loved to be in company with my relations. This, you know, sir, is using a man like a fool, and so I told her; but the worst of it is, that I have spent my fortune to no purpose. All, therefore, that I desire of you is, to tell me whether, upon exhibiting the several particulars which I have here related to you, I may not sue her for damages in a court of justice. Your advice in this particular will very much oblige

“Your most humble admirer,

“Simon Softly.”

Before I answer Mr. Softly’s request, I find myself under a necessity of discussing two nice points: first of all, what it is, in cases of this nature, that amounts to an encouragement; and, secondly, what it is that amounts to a promise. Each of which subjects requires more time to examine than I am at present master of. Besides, I would have my friend Simon consider, whether he has any council that would undertake his cause in forma pauperis, he having unluckily disabled himself, by his own account of the matter, from prosecuting his suit any other way.

In answer, however, to Mr. Softly’s request, I shall acquaint him with a method made use of by a young fellow in King Charles the Second’s reign, whom I shall here call Silvio, who had long made love, with much artifice and intrigue, to a rich widow, whose true name I shall conceal under that of Zelinda. Silvio, who was much more smitten with her fortune than her person, finding a twelvemonth’s application unsuccessful, was resolved to make a saving bargain of it, and since he could not get the widow’s estate into his possession, to recover at least what he had laid out of his own in the pursuit of it.

In order to this he presented her with a bill of costs; having particularized in it the several expences he had been at in his long perplexed amour. Zelinda was so pleased with the humour of the fellow, and his frank way of dealing, that, upon the perusal of the bill, she sent him a purse of fifteen hundred guineas, by the right application of which, the lover, in less than a year, got a woman of greater fortune than her he had missed. The several articles in the bill of costs I pretty well remember, though I have forgotten the particular sum charged to each article.

Laid out in supernumerary full-bottom wigs.

Fiddles for a serenade, with a speaking trumpet.

Gilt paper in letters, and billet-doux with perfumed wax.

A ream of sonnets and love verses, purchased at different times of Mr.Triplett at a crown a sheet.

To Zelinda two sticks of May cherries.

Last summer, at several times, a bushel of peaches.

Three porters whom I planted about her to watch her motions.

The first, who stood sentry near her door. The second, who had his stand at the stables where her coach was put up.

The third, who kept watch at the corner of the street where Ned Courtall lives, who has since married her.

Two additional porters planted over her during the whole month of May. Five conjurors kept in pay all last winter.

Spy-money to John Trott her footman, and Mrs. Sarah Wheedle her companion.

A new Conningsmark blade to fight Ned Courtall.

To Zelinda’s woman (Mrs. Abigal) an Indian fan, a dozen pair of white kid gloves, a piece of Flanders lace, and fifteen guineas in dry money.

Secret service-money to Betty at the ring.

Ditto, to Mrs. Tape the mantua-maker.

Loss of time.

The Spectator No. 97 Thursday July 9, 1761

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil can do no better than direct her readers to this similar legal proceeding from 1898, with a (temporarily) happier ending. Plus ça change

Mrs Daffodil wishes all of her readers the happiest of St. Valentine’s Days and offers a fervent hope that no solicitors will be involved.

For last year’s Valentine story of a lonely-hearts advertisement, see here.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.