Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fashions from Godey's Lady's Book, March 1853

It's that time again!  As we mentioned in the first post in this series, we recently stumbled across a bound volume of Godey's Lady's Book from 1853. Once a month, I'll post the collection of fashion-related plates and articles that appeared in each monthly issue.  You can find the previous months here.

I apologize in advance for the quality of the images. Although I have a scanner, I've discovered that there's no way I can preserve the integrity of the already fragile binding of the book and lay it flat. That means photos are the only options, and even those are difficult to achieve because of the tightly bound pages. I've done my best to ensure that everything is as clear and visible and undistorted as possible, but if there's something you really can't read or see and would like to have clarified, just let me know and I'll see what more I can do. I've set the images up so that if you click on them, they'll link you to their flickr page, where you'll be able to enlarge them all considerably and thus more easily read each one. Enjoy!

Godey's Lady's Book, March 1853 1
"Fig. 1st. - Walking-dress of pale fawn-colored mousseline, trimmed with buttons in clusters, or rather clustering rows, down the skirt, upon the corsage and sleeves.  Deep lace ruffles falling over the hand.  Drawn bonnet, of white silk and lace.
Fig. 2d. - Walking-dress of steel-colored Cashmere, the skirt trimmed with rows of black velvet ribbon, nearly a foot in depth.  The corsage is arranged in the same style, as will be seen from the demi-loose sleeve.  A small mantle of the same description covers the shoulders, the front being profusely ornamented.  Bonnet of black satin mixed with lace, and purple satin bows.  Noeuds of the same inside the brim." 

Godey's Lady's Book, March 1853 2
"Fig. 1st. - Dinner-dress of plaid soie, in imitation of a tartan: broad sash of ribbon to correspond.  Low corsage, and berthe capes: hair in heavy ringlets.
Fig. 2d. - Dress of mode-colored silk, suitable for a matron; cape of French embroidery; headdress of velvet and gold lace.
Fig. 3d. - Dress of blue brocade, with low corsage and demi long sleeves, covered by a lace canezou.  Headdress of lace and ribbon.
Fig. 4th. - Dress of sea-green poult de soie; the corsage and skirt trimmed with ruches of the same en V.  Chemisette of Honiton lace in points.  Hair in heavy Grecian bands."

Godey's Lady's Book, March 1853 3
The pattern for a "Parisian purse."
Godey's Lady's Book, March 1853 4
Chemisettes and capes (see full description below)
"Fig. 1st. - As many ladies who, for convenience or lightness of dress, wear low corsages in the evening, do not like to leave the neck entirely exposed, we give a new style, or rather form, of pelerine, in embroidered muslin, the edges waved or scalloped, so as to give a glimpse of the figure from the throat to the waist.  There is a very style style edged with Valenciennes instead of the worked points.  The collar to be fastened by a knot of some bight-colored satin ribbon, suiting or contrasting with the wearer's dress or complexion.
Fig. 2d. - A cambric basque, intended for a breakfast dress, with some pretty skirt.  It will be found a convenient fashion to use up those that have had the waists condemned as too much worn.  It is made quite plainly, with edges and chemisette of cambric flouncing, and may be sent to the common wash."
Godey's Lady's Book, March 1853 5
Pattern for an appliqued lady's cravate.
Godey's Lady's Book, March 1853 6
"Braiding - coral pattern for white muslin dress" to decorate the
flounces (see description below)
"To be braided with fine scarlet worsted braid; copy the design on tissue paper, tack the paper pattern on material, sew on the braid by the pattern, then teat away the paper carefully."
Godey's Lady's Book, March 1853 7
Braid patterns for aprons and an embroidery pattern
for a muslin chemisette or undersleeves.

If you'd like to use or re-post or share these images, you're certainly welcome to do so. The only thing we ask is that credit is given where due: please provide a link back to this blog with the re-posted picture. Thanks!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Can you help us solve a family mystery?

This is a portrait of a family member from our father's side of our family.  Our dad remembers it hanging on the wall of his parents' living room, and thinks it first appeared there when he was about high-school age.  From what he always understood, it was someone on his father's side of the family, and he assumed it was his father's mother - in other words, our great-grandmother - but he's not positive, and I'm not yet convinced.  Whoever it is, the face, and particularly the eyes, are quite striking and beautifully executed.  We're hoping a more accurate and specific dating might help us narrow down the identity possibilities, and that's where you come in!

mystery family portrait painted on tin
The mystery family portrait, painted on a sheet of metal.

Today, for the first time, I unpicked the nails from the back of the frame, hoping to discover a name scribbled on the reverse, or even a date written in the margins underneath the frame.  Alas, I didn't discover anything like that, but what I did discover was that this portrait is actually painted on a thin sheet of metal.  I assume it is tin.  You can see how the acid from the paint has begun to eat through the metal on the back.

mystery family portrait painted on tin back
The eerie imprint of the portrait on the reverse.

I don't know a great deal about nineteenth- or early-twentieth-century fashion, and I don't know anything about portraiture or painting from the turn of the century, either. Based on the little I do know about fashion, hairstyles, and accessories, it looks like this portrait could have been done any time between about 1880 and 1920. We're hoping some of you with deeper knowledge about the nuances of these decades in fashion and art could help us narrow that down a bit more.  When was painting on sheets of tin most popular?  What decade does this hairstyle or these earrings or this type of collar suggest to you?  Any insight at all in helping us solve this mystery would be most appreciated!