Sunday, January 28, 2007

Needlecraft in 1923


On Saturday, hubby and I drove to Cambridge to visit an amazing antique market. It was huge, 30,000 square feet, and we spent hours there looking through all the amazing things there. Even more amazing, to me, was seeing household articles that I remember as a little girl, and thinking hmm, these are now antiques?!? What does that make me?

I did find 2 sewing boxes filled with some cool little goodies, one with a ton of wooden spools of thread, and the other with odds and ends that used to fill ladies' sewing boxes.

I indulged in these 2 issues of a issues of Needlecraft Magazine, one dated April 1923 and the other December 1923. Of course I had to buy them! The original price was 10 cents and today's price $5.00, still cheaper than any current magazines on the rack today.
Most of the patterns inside are for household items ~ surface embroidery for tablecloths, crocheted edgings for table runners, one article describes a dining-room set (cloth and napkins) with "Graceful Decoration in Cross-Stitch Embroidery". But there's no pattern and a very simplistic picture of the finished product, and in fine print how to send away for the items described as "white butcher cloth for 6 napkins, unstamped, with Penelope canvas, and working-chart of cross stitch design, 70 cents, floss to embroider 44 cents" . I'm guessing that was pretty pricey, since the magazine itself was only 10 cents originally.

The paper in these magazines is very fragile, not much thicker than newspaper quality, and most of the pictures are in black and white. I found the ads to be fantastic reading though, if I squint hard enough, I can read the really fine print in most of them.

Some dress patterns for the discerning ladies, only 12 cents each! The description of dress design in the bottom right hand corner even offers that it can be " made in an Hour" and is "cut for 16 years" (I don't get that part, it looks like a huge dress for a 16 year old to wear).


Imagine my surprise on finding this ad for DMC. No mention of price, though, I'm curious to wonder how much ladies had to pay for it then.


It seems people were worried about brighter, whiter smiles even in 1923. No one liked "dingy film-coats" and the ad describes in significant detail how this comes about (yuck - that's what is going on inside my mouth?) This ad is for Pepsodent....hmmm, toothpaste?


And in 1923, ladies were concerned with their weight. Somethings never change! Although its remarkable even today to think that it was possible to lose 53 lbs. in 9 weeks, that's almost 6 lbs. a week! And this was apparently achieved by "Mrs. Bayliss, a well known young matron of social elect" not by starving, but simply listening to "Wallace's records but ten minutes a day". This ad offers a free 10 day trial, there's no mention of cost in this ad, just to "let the scales decide", mail in the coupon, and your first week's record will be sent to you. I would love to hear this record, its too bad I'm 84 years too late to get my free copy.



And my favourite ad has to be on the last page, a gorgeous ad for Jello. They sure don't make ads like that any more!

14 comments:

Alberta said...

Wendy, what wonderful treasures! It's nice to know that some things can stand the test of time like my favorite - DMC! Thanks for the mini walk down memory lane.

Annemarie said...

Wow, what a buy! Thanks for sharing this! The history of DMC, by the way, is described by Renée in her blog Bible en broderie (www.bibleenbroderie.com). Blog is written in French and English!
I think the language in these magazines are worth the $5 alone!

BeckySC said...

I agree, what treasures!!
TFS :)

Barbara said...

Oh, what a fun adventure! I wish I could've strolled around with you!

Renee said...

As you already visited my blog, you know that I do love everything linked with embroidery in past time. Fortunately my aunt and my grandfathers worked as tailor and embroiderer. So I too have plenty wooden spool of threads and old tools. But your magazines are precious. It was very interesting to look at your photos carefully. I wish you a very good week.

Nicki said...

Oh, thank you for sharing these and the photos! I love them. I'm fascinated by books and mazazines from the 1920s and 1930s. Love the articles and the adverts. I know I've heard of Pepsodent before - I can't quite remember but I think it was a toothpaste with baking soda in it to whiten teeth. Something like that!

Von said...

Thanks for sharing your new treasures, Wendy! That Jello ad should be framed - how precious!! :D

Sue said...

How cool to have found those old magazines.

Mary Ann said...

How cool that you found the magazines, and thank you for sharing a peek inside of them!

Pam said...

What great finds! I love things like this, it's neat to see how things used to be. You were right Pepsodent is a toothpast that used to be very popular in the states but not so much anymore. I found this for anyone interested http://www.answers.com/topic/pepsodent that tells about it. Thank you for sharing with us =D

bunnyhead said...

Wow! Thanks for all the pictures--- how neat.

Vonna said...

I agree the jello add is beautiful..it could almost be framed and hung :)

Great finds Wendy!

quiltorstitch said...

I LOVE looking through old magazines and books, they are so much fun. Amazing how things don’t really change much in some areas huh? Thanks for sharing this, it was great!

Isabelle said...

Thank you for sharing all this Wendy, like you I love those vintage treasures. (I love vintage patterns too, especially from the 1950s). I derived another huge interest in your finds in that the novels I work on were written exactly at that time... Fascinating :)

From what I could read on the pattern description, I believe that dress could be made from a 16-year's size to a 44-inch bust size (you indeed go by bust-size when looking for vintage patterns and even new ones!).