I recently received a number of vintage and antique catalogs, from my good friend Lady Carolyn.
Most of them – Delineators, McCalls, Bella Hess – are in very fragile condition, but appear to be complete. These documents are absolute treasure troves of information, and I want to share them with you. I’ve thus set out on a project to digitize all of these old publications, for free PDF download or nominally-priced print-on-demand book, for anyone who may want a copy.
I started with the Bellas Hess & Co. 1917-1918 Winter Fashion Catalogue. It was the largest, but I didn’t quite anticipate HOW large it was – 275 pages! I spent all day Tuesday scanning every page, cleaning them up and formatting them for print. I’m still not done, but I wanted to share a couple choice pages with you today…
This is the front cover. On the left is the original scan, with all the damage. This poor catalogue had been eaten by mice and worms, had moisture buckling, and missing pieces that broke off from being folded. On the right is my reconstruction, formatted for 8.5 x 11 printing – I filled in the gaps around the edges just a bit.
Above is the original scan of one of the pages. You can see the damaged bits, and how the pages have yellowed over the past 100 years. For the PDF and printed book, I’m limited in file size and also interior printing to having to make these pages black and white, so I’ve desaturated them, brightened and upped the contrast.
Here are just a few of the pages…again, there are 275, mostly women’s and girl’s clothing, but the catalogue also has some boys and mens, some novelty items, jewelry, linen, hats, shoes, gloves, long underwear, corsets, and even sanitary supplies.
|This is one of my favorite pages – Elastic waists in petticoats! This is why catalogues like these are so valuable…they prove or disprove assumptions we in the future have made about how clothing was made and worn.|
This catalogue has quite a few gorgeous color pages, which will be in the PDF, but not in the printed book. I’ll share them with you later. For now, I hope these inspire you! Use them as you like – all of these images are in the public domain, and I believe that information like this should be shared for everyone’s benefit.