Tag Archives: Edwardian accessories

New Uses for the Cashmere Shawl: 1910

Paisley shawl remade into a dress, coat and bag, 1889 Museum at FIT

The Cashmere Shawl.

A new use for the pine-patterned cashmere shawls that have been handed down from the great-grandmother to the modern woman is now found in covering handbags and the numerous variety of the vanity bag with this fascinating Indian fabric. The subdued richness of the coloring has a fascinating effect, and to bring the scheme of the contrasting hues into harmony with the rest of the dress it is modish to introduce perhaps a belt, covered with the patterned fabric or revers and cuffs of the like material on the coat.

To complete the bag very long handles or knotted silk cord are used, finished with corded fringe, and by way of variety some women are introducing here and there a touch of a glittering cabochon in barbaric colors.

The antique pine-patterned shawls that show signs of wear in one or two places can be thus used for a variety of purposes in the fashioning of accessories for the autumn toilet. The borders may be cut off and applied on the skirt of a cloth gown, or a short waistcoat may be introduced between the shawl like revers of an autumn coat of velvet.

Use for Paisley.

So popular was the old-time Paisley shawl last winter, in its various adaptations, that it seems quite impossible to conceive of any new ways of using the garment of our grandmother’s day. However, those who know predict the vogue of the Paisley muff as well as of the Paisley bag this winter.

Norwich [CT] Bulletin 13 October 1910: p. 4

House of Lanvin (French, founded 1889) Evening bag, 1925–35 French, silk, metal Silk, metallic; 14 in. (35.6 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of the executors of the estate of Clara M. Blum in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Blum, 1966 (2009.300.2543) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/157382

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The exotic patterns of the cashmere shawl have had many lives. Although Mrs Daffodil flinches at the very idea, one finds the massive shawls of the 1860s cut into mantles, visites, and even gowns, in the 1870s and 1880s.

Paisley shawl remade into a mantle, early 1870s, The John Bright Collection

1910 was a particularly good year for the paisley-revival.

Old Paisley Shawls Are Valuable.

The Paisley shawl is coming back into its own. In the old days the Paisley was one of the necessary units of every stylish outlay. After two generations the shawl’s vogue is returning. At present there is a decided fad for both cashmere and Paisley. It must be admitted, however, that it is the fabric and not the shawl itself which attracts. Paisley is now being substituted for leather in women’s handbags, card cases, belts and other novelties. The belts are especially popular. They are edged with patent leather and demand a good price at the stores which make a specialty of women’s wear. Even folding slippers are being made of Paisley. They are well adapted to travelers and very comfortable, although, as in the case of the belts, they are an expensive luxury.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, 20 October 1910

Although Mrs Daffodil has not found an image of the historic shawl in this next article, she is grateful that Mr Thanhouser recognized its value before his mother chopped it into handbags or belts or it was sold to the rag collector.

TREASURE IN AN OLD TRUNK.

A Rare Paisley Shawl Worn at Victoria’s Coronation Found by Accident.

From the Milwaukee Sentinel.

A shawl valued at over $1,000 and worn by the great grandmother of Edwin Thanhouser, manager of the Academy theater at the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838, was found the other morning by Mrs. Julia Thanhouser, the manager’s mother, in one of her old trunks which she had not rummaged in years. Mr. Thanhouser happened to be in the house when the garment was brought to light and knew at once that the piece of goods was of more than ordinary value.

This prize among shawls was made in Paisley, Scotland, and bought by Mrs. Bertha Emmonds, great grandmother of Mr. Thanhouser, in London, while attending the coronation of Queen Victoria, for which purpose she came from her home in Germany. At her death the shawl passed into the possession of Mr. Thanhouser’s grandmother, and fifteen years ago while his mother, the present owner, was living in Fort Wayne, Ind., it was given to her. Mr. Thanhouser had often heard his mother speak of the shawl, but it was not until he saw it that he realized what a valuable piece of goods it was.

Threads almost as fine as it is possible to spin them are the material of which the shawl is made, and there are so many colors and shades of colors that it is almost impossible to count them. The design is exceedingly intricate and was undoubtedly the result of considerable hard study. The shawl measures about 10 by 5 feet.

The Kansas City [MO[ Star 14 June 1902: p. 5


There was also a brief vogue for the fabric in the 1920s, and again, in the psychedelic ’60s. In 1964, a Norwich shawl gave its life for this lounge suit with a fashionable Nehru jacket.

Paisley “Nehru jacket” 1964 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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 anecdote

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.

Fashionable Shagreen: 1917-1923

It is, Mrs Daffodil has been reliably informed, something called “Shark Week.” Mrs Daffodil does not, as a rule, celebrate ocean-going predators, but it is an excellent excuse to discuss the fashionable uses for shagreen.

FASHIONABLE SHAGREEN.

WONDERFUL EFFECTS.

Four centuries ago shagreen—a handsome Chinese presentation of fish skin was the envy of all the young dandies about town, says an overseas fashion recorder. But shagreen was exclusive and expensive, cured and cut and shaped by hand, and it was only the dandy with a long purse who could afford to have this lovely decoration on his sword sheath or snuff-box. Once again Bond Street has revived shagreen. It has been displayed in the shop windows for some months, and just around the corner, off Old Bond Street, you will find the workers of the Chinese fish skin busy curing, “kneading,” and dyeing it to the perfection of its finished state.

Just as was the case 400 years ago, it is still exclusive and costly.

The process of manufacture is long and difficult. The skin does not lend itself to factory production, so that in shagreen articles you have one of the most beautiful of the hand-made productions.

Shagreen experts tell me that the skin is “practically everlasting,” and, what is more delightful, age intensifies its beauty. It looks lovely bound with silver in brush-and comb sets. There are complete outfits for the secretaire, and endless small things like scent sprays, cigarette and match cases, and a few book-bindings are shown. The colours are exquisite—soft blue, grey, rose and especially green. It was the green that was used in the early 17th century—for the art of making shagreen take subtle dyes was not then known—and some fortunate people have pieces of green among their family heirlooms. In the little “factory ” 1 was shown shagreen as it arrives from the Orient. Actually it is (he skin of a small rare shark, and the raw material is as stiff and hard as a board. The placoid scales of the shark give it a very rough surface. It looks as if tiny pebbles have been embedded in the skin. They feel like stone. In the old days the skin of horses and wild asses was treated to imitate shagreen and part of the process was to embed a certain seed in the skin while it was soft, and so artificially manufacture the knitter 1 surface. As a rule the real skin arrives in a creamy tint and often in a colour that requires no dye. Many hours of labour have to be spent filing down the hard scales and kneading the buckram like texture to the softness of kid When ready for mounting the hard nodules have been transformed to a pearl-like pattern and even after dyeing this creamy colour remains where the scales were, and on this particular shark every pore seems to be a scale. No two skins are alike. Frequently two skins put into a bath of green dye will take the colour in two totally different shades. This not only annoys the worker but adds to the price of the finished article. Shagreen is used effectively to line the bathroom walls in the Queen’s dolls’ house, where the ceiling is of snail shell and the bath of rose rock crystal.

New Zealand Herald 27 November 1926: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: When we speak of “shagreen” and sharkskin, these, of course, refer to the actual skin of a shark rather than the louche shiny suiting fabric favoured by cads.

While sharkskin has long been in use as a luxe leather, it was not until the Great War’s leather shortages that its potential was once again explored.

Shortage of Leather

Demand for Military Purposes Leaves Little for Civilian Uses.

America’s entrance into the war has created a demand for fancy leathers.

For example, more leather has been cut up for wrist watch straps this year than ever before and the demand is increasing. Officers’ vests are being made from chamois skins. Leather is required for binding army manuals and reports and there is a big demand for leather for covering field glasses, cameras, surgical instruments, cases, etc. Steel helmets must be lined with leather. Leather is also needed for automobile and airplane equipment.

There is a great demand for leather for straps, revolver cases, harnesses and saddlery, not to mention money belts, pipe cases, trench cigarette cases and the like.

Pigskin for Leggings.

It is said that the demand for pigskin for leggings and other military equipment has practically exhausted the supply of this leather and cowhide is now being used by manufacturers of these articles.

No Walrus for Bags.

Little walrus will be seen in bags and cases this year as the Newfoundland catch of this animal was the smallest in many seasons and, due to the war conditions, no Norwegian skins came to this country this year. It is said that the high price of those skins which were obtained in Newfoundland practically prohibits their use.

Unless next year’s American catch is unusually large and some way is found for releasing Europe’s supply of these skins, genuine walrus leather will probably be conspicuously absent in bags in this country for the rest of the war.

Seeking a Substitute

Dealers and manufactures ware now concerned with the question of what is to take the place of walrus. Alligator skin, once so popular, is out of the question. Alligator skin went out of fashion when its growing scarcity made its price prohibitive.

In the years since his tanned hide furnished the most popular bags of the day, the alligator has not increased in numbers. The Florida supply is practically exhausted. It has been suggested, though, that the hunting of these reptiles in Mexico and South America might be profitably developed.

Finding a Use for Sharks.

Sharkskin is the newest and most likely addition to bag leathers. Like that of the walrus, the skin of the shark is about an inch thick when it is removed from the fish. It is soft and spongy before it is tanned, but becomes a tough, fibrous leather when cured.

A special process of tanning has been developed for shrinking fine, scaly, file-like surface of sharkskin until it assumes a grain similar to walrus. This process makes the skin practical for traveling bags.

Sharks are already being hunted by two companies formed for this purpose and a number of skins are being made up into bags. One manufacturer is said to have taken 2000 of these skins. If a dependable supply of skins can be obtained, sharkskin may become a factor in the leather trade. At present the uncertainty of the supply and the high prices which must be realized naturally restrict its sale. Dry Goods Economist, Vol. 71, 17 November 1917: p. 81

The “special process” was the key to shark skin leather:

SHARKSKIN SHOES

Hides of Sea Fish Used in Lieu of Cow Leather.

Ft. Myers, Fla., April 4. Sister in devilfish dancing pumps. Dad in sharkskin shoes. Mother in stingaree slippers.

These things will soon come to pass. A plant at Sanibel, Fla., is making them now.

These fish, heretofore useless to man, are being caught and brought to the plant. Their skins are tanned. The tanning process was invented by Ehreinrich, president and promoter of the Ocean Leather Company.

Ehreinrich has become wealthy by selling the European and South American rights to his process.

Suit Cases and other leather goods will be made.  Salisbury [NC] Evening Post 4 April 1921: p. 6

To Mrs Daffodil’s chagrin, she has not been able to locate an image of early 20th-century shagreen shoes. These are from Persia, c. 1800

The steaming jungles and the rolling ocean alike are being ravished for materials for feminine footwear. Many a debutant today selects shoes of snake skin in which to scale the social scarps. In supply this new and crying need, many a python has wrapped its last.

However, the real hippopottomus’ hip, as one Broadway comedian expresses it is sharkskin. Shoes of this type are gray in tone and the supply of material, so far as New York is concerned is inexhaustible. Any hook for an attractive feminine bait will catch a dozen thick skinned gray sharks any day in any pool between the Waldorf and the Westchester road houses. The Bee [Danville VA] 12 December 1923: p. 3

“The real hippopottomus’ hip,” is the youthful slang used to express the notion that sharkskin shoes are the dernier cri. One suspects that “sharks” is the vernacular for “not quite a gentleman.”

SHARKSKIN IS SWAGGER SAYS THE EFFETE EAST

It’s Used Now to Trim Motor Coats, As Well as for Smart Accessories.

New York, Oct. 30. A football game at the polo grounds serves to emphasize the esteem in which shark skin is held at present. The rough and swagger and sporty looking leather is made into any number of articles such as purses, cigarette cases and hand bags. Sometimes the skin is used to cover the handle of an umbrella, and it formed the cuffs and collars of one remarkable motor coat seen at the polo grounds Saturday. Rockford [IL] Republic 30 October 1922: p. 4

A Shark Skin bag, 1922

Shark skin and white leather form one of the large, unusual bags carried by the Duchess Sforza, who favours rare design and dimensions. Vogue Vol. 59, 15 May 1922: p. 33

Silver-mounted shagreen clock, 1904 http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21325/lot/105/

In addition to its uses in fashion, shagreen was popular for furniture inlays, cases for scientific instruments and cutlery, and desk accessories such as stamp cases, calendar frames, and bell pushes. It is rather nubbly in texture and is usually dyed a soft, arsenical green colour. The parlourmaids will attest that the texture gives it a special propensity to collect dust.

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 Garter Purse and the Stocking Room: 1905

 

A PURSE ATTACHED TO GARTER

The Latest Device to Protect Women Against Pickpockets

New York, Feb. 16. Gentle woman will in future carry her small change in a chamois purse fastened to a steel slide which runs along her garter. This is in compliance with the plan suggested by a prominent banking house, which proposes to give 1,000 of the purse-garters to its women customers. The slide is a steel affair and absolutely reliable; the clasp of the purse is beyond suspicion; but the method of attack is left entirely to the individual.

If Mother Eve had been guilty of hosiery, the inception of its use for the concealment of stray coin would doubtless have been laid at her door. Even the experts consulted yesterday were at a loss to determine the responsibility, though Dr. Mary Walker as prominently mentioned. Dr. Mary’s exemption from the disadvantages of the rest of the sex seemed sufficiently strong evidence in the feminine mind. The wad used to be carried invariably well down—that is, just below the point of the widest circumference. Singularities of gait were accounted for by the fact that in moments of exuberance the wad worked up. Sometimes it surmounted all the undulations and escaped into space.

Later, when the garter rose above the knee, the wad rose with it.

At the opening the St. Louis exposition manufacturers put upon the market a stocking with a long pocket—a gain in convenience but the hump still remained. But the purse which will hang on the outside of either garter solves the artistic question and saves a few blushes. The Wichita [KS] Daily Eagle 17 February 1905: p. 9

Laying aside the question of shameless pick-pockets “frisking” ladies or “wads” of bank-notes disfiguring a gown’s fashionable line, the next article tells of the innovative bank who created the garter purse as well as a sanctum for ladies wishing to access the funds concealed in their stockings.

This is a story,” says the World, “of honi soil qui mal y pense. It concerns the pocketless woman and then only if she carries hers in her hosiery. It is a bad habit. Coin of the republic wandering about on exploring expeditions inside warranted lisle thread or web silk is apt to be disconcerting to the most self-contained woman. The feminine intelligence will grasp the aggravations of the situation at a glance. It did grasp them yesterday afternoon at the Hotel Astor when, before the West End Republican Club, the monthly report of Mrs. Belle de Rivera, touching on momentous questions, legislative and others, made mention of the fact that a representative banking house was considering the feasibility of presenting garters to all its women depositors. Not the ordinary affair, with a wicked little bow and a gold clasp, unworthy of its responsibility. This garter is to be as plain and uncompromising as an unbecoming bonnet, with no weakness or sentimentality about it. Securely fastened to the circlet will be a chamois pocket, with a strong lock. The banking house, with the proper modesty, alludes to this as ‘a secret receptacle to carry funds,’ and has a plan to order 1,000 of them for presentation immediately.”

The bank’s idea is not entirely new. There is already a ” stocking-room ” established by the National Bank of Commerce in Kansas City. It proved to be such a popular innovation with the ladies, that the idea has been adopted in several other Kansas City banking institutions. The ” stocking-room ” is a small apartment, but it is beautifully finished in mahogany and plate glass. The floor is covered with a Persian rug, and four little leather- covered stools, each about twelve inches high. stand against the walls. The purpose of the stools is apparent. No longer is it necessary for the fair customer to kneel on the floor or lift one foot to a high chair to find her money. Men are barred from this little room during banking hours.

W. H. Winants. president of the bank, said: “I don’t know who gave it the name of ‘stocking-room,’ but it seems appropriate and comes to stay. The room has proved itself a convenience to many patrons who have praised our forethought. The incident that decided the bank officers to build the room was when a portly woman entered and showed the usual embarrassment when it came to producing her money. When she again appeared at the teller’s window she placed nearly $3,000 in bills on the counter. Where she had carried the money nobody would venture to say.” The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 27 February 1905

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil regrets that she could locate no historic example of the useful garter purse. The illustration at the head of this post shows a modern bride’s purse garter, a notion that perplexes Mrs Daffodil. Does the bride really need “mad money” or cab-fare on such an occasion? A bride’s “flask garter” is also available. One would suspect that a bride who needed such an accessory to go through with the ceremony might wish to reconsider her choice of gentleman.

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.