Joy Riding in a Time Machine: The Electric Car

Baker Electric color advertisement with woman driver who is taking her husband to the country club golf course.
Baker Electric color advertisement with woman driver who is taking her husband to the country club golf course. “Life” magazine.

It was an important, innovative year…1912.

Beautiful machines…. Electric cars seemed to be the way of the future.

With well over 30,000 electric cars on the road by 1912, these beautiful automobiles had become increasingly popular. With a simple turn and push of a button or switch, they were easy to start and ran almost entirely without any sound or vibration whatsoever.  Considered maintenance free, there were neither odors nor emissions, since they were battery operated. Electric vehicles offered a more peaceful and luxurious way to get from one place to another within a 100 mile range

Out of all the electric car companies that year, Walter C. Baker’s cars were especially exquisite. They had beautifully appointed interiors. They were long-lasting with almost maintenance free construction.  They were considered exceptionally safe for women drivers and families.  Baker advertised his cars that year as the “aristocratic vehicle.” Elegant. Refined. They were luxuriously priced between two to three thousand dollars.

It is said that electric car sales overall peaked during 1912 and Baker Electric Motor-Vehicle Company was the leading electric car manufacturer in the United States.  The commercial illustration  was published below) that very year and its caption listed the many showrooms where Walter C. Baker’s fully electric, battery-operated cars and trucks were sold.  Showrooms were located in Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Memphis, Cincinnati as well as Decatur, Illinois. Westward expansion was planned for Seattle and other cities throughout the United States.

Illustration from advertisement for Baker Electric Motor-Vehicle Company, Cleveland, Ohio. This full page advertisement was printed in
Illustration from advertisement for Baker Electric Motor-Vehicle Company, Cleveland, Ohio. This full page advertisement was printed in “Vogue” magazine’s special millinery edition dated September 1, 1912.

Walter C. Baker started his car company in 1897 at Cleveland, Ohio when he was 29 years old. Within the first few years, he designed the fastest fully electric racing car to promote his work in the electrics field. As its name suggested, The Road Torpedo was the first truly aerodynamic car design that entirely surrounded its drivers; encapsulating two men, the driver and the electrician or brakeman within its interior.  Baker’s Torpedo was the first car to successfully break the 100 mph land speed barrier during test runs along Ormond Beach, Florida.  Yet after several attempts…and while claiming to have hit 127 mph…the car crashed when its wheels fell off

Baker returned to his proverbial drafting table and finally went on to test a more powerful version of the Torpedo for racing at Staten Island, where he hoped to officially achieve the land speed record. The world’s fastest cars were set to race against time over a street course laid out by the Automobile Club of America and local aldermen. It was Memorial Day weekend, 1902.

When Baker’s car reached a speed of just over 100 mph, the Torpedo’s wheels caught on the trolley tracks that lay across a section of the otherwise paved road. Baker spun wildly out of control, and the Torpedo flew into the crowd of onlookers who lined the street as if watching a parade. Two people were killed instantly, and many were sent to hospital for serious injuries. This was the first time that spectators were injured during a mooring event….

Although Walter Baker’s speed reached the coveted record that day, the crash disqualified him… in fact, both he and his co-driver were arrested for murder after being extricated from the crash…although the charges were later dropped.

Walter Baker and his co-driver survived these crashes without injury due to the fact that they were belted into their seats. This seemingly simple and sensible idea was actually the very first recorded use of seat belts within automotive history.

Not long after,  Walter Baker left racing and focused on motor car design and sales, with extra emphasis on more genteel automobiles marketed to fashionable women drivers.

Commercial illustration for the Electric Vehicle Association of America published in
Commercial illustration for the Electric Vehicle Association of America published in “Vogue” magazine, millinery issue dated September 1, 1912. The association was created for the advancement of electric car commerce. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

These exceedingly chic motor cars featured luxurious seating, interior curtains, small vases for flower arrangements and demure built-in make-up vanities. The stylish cars traveled about 100 miles before requiring a charge and drove along at a more socially acceptable speed of about 25 mph.

Entirely battery-operated and connected to charging stations between use, Baker’s electric cars started with a simple turn and push of a switch and a button.

This was quite unlike gasoline operated motor vehicles in comparison.  Several hard, strong turns on heavy cranks were usually required to get the gas automobile going, and for safety reasons, cranking was done with the left arm. One also needed accurate knowledge of just how to adjust a choke…and if the car backfired, the crank would swing fast, hard and unexpectedly in the opposite direction. This often resulted in serious injuries, and the most common were broken hands, arms or dislocated shoulders.  Therefore, the elegant electric starters on battery operated cars were huge selling factors for Baker’s company, as well as for his competitors.

Because of the ornate, elaborate fashions worn by women at the time, electric cars were the obvious and the sensible choice for women who drove.  Baker realized this and his marketing strategies in advertising and promotions were centered on a more feminine approach. Therefore, today we find ample electric automobile advertising, and related motoring sports articles, in women’s fashion magazines.

Actual photograph of one of Baker's first electric automobiles, 1901. Thanks to the Automotive Research Library, La Mesa, CA www.hcfi.org
Actual photograph of one of Baker’s first electric automobiles, 1901. Thanks to the Automotive Research Library, La Mesa, CA http://www.hcfi.org

Yet, by the time the above 1912 advertisement appeared in Vogue magazine’s early autumn millinery issue, Baker’s electric cars were also marketed with professional men in mind. The ad states that Baker cars fit well for town and professional uses of men as for the social uses of women. 

These marketing changes were a little too late for Baker’s electric vehicles. Only a page or two away and in nearly every other fashionable magazine that September, gasoline powered vehicle makers were advertising electric starters for their new 1913 automobile models. Electric starters had just been invented and were being mass produced by Charles Kettering at his Dayton Electric Company in Ohio. By the end of 1912,  electric starters were being implemented on gasoline engines throughout the automotive industry.

Illustrated advertisement for the upcoming 1913 Haynes gasoline motor vehicles with newly invented electric starters and lighting from Vogue Millinery Number, September 1, 1912.
Illustrated advertisement for the upcoming 1913 Haynes gasoline motor vehicles with newly invented electric starters and lighting from Vogue Millinery Number, September 1, 1912. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

One of Baker’s most aggressive competitors was Haynes Automobile Company from Kokomo, Indiana.  In their advertising published only a few pages away from the Baker’s Electrics ad, they announced:

“The new electric starting and electric lighting equipment, now an integral part of every Haynes, removes the only obstacle that has kept the gasoline car from being “a woman’s car.” You could handle the new Model 22 Haynes just as well as any man. The starting crank is done away with. Getting out in the road to light lamps is done away with. Start the car – every time– and light car, right from the driver’s seat. It is a wonderfully complete automobile.” – Haynes

By the end of 1913, nearly every gasoline powered automotive company was advertising some type of electrical starter and Walter Baker’s company was faced with a rapid downward spiral in fully electric auto sales.

Gasoline automobiles could travel further distances and at faster speeds than Baker’s original designs, such as those advertised in the autumn 1912 magazines. Most gasoline auto makers  converted immediately to the newly invented electric starters and even the lesser priced cars were soon advertising some type of electrical controls. The Overland Roadster, priced at $675 during March of 1916, advertised that the electrical control-box on the steering-column is operated by buttons instead of switches.

Commercial illustration by unknown artist for the Model 83-B Overland Roadster from the Willys-Overland Company, Toledo, Ohio. Page 29, The Designer Magazine, March 1916. Enhanced image. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
Overland Roadster 1916. Commercial illustration by unknown artist for the Model 83-B Overland Roadster from the Willys-Overland Company, Toledo, Ohio. Page 29, The Designer Magazine, March 1916. Enhanced image. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

Within slightly over a year from the time the Baker’s Electrics 1912 advertisement was published in Vogue magazine, Henry Ford improved automotive line production capabilities and a new car could be made every 93 minutes. Soon, Baker’s downward spiral turned into a kind of black hole for electric cars overall.

By 1916, Walter Baker stopped electric car production entirely.  Although he worked within the automotive industry for much of his remaining life, he eventually retired; a wealthy man. He lived in Cleveland, Ohio until his death during 1955…living long enough to witness the progress of gasoline motorized vehicles and the total demise of the electric car….

Yet today the time machine still whirs.  In a world faced with such great economic and environmental concerns, the demand and technologies for electric cars have returned….


Original text & photographs ©2015 Julia Henri
Please use citations and references to The Gilded Times.
http://www.thegildedtimes.wordpress.com



Greetings From 1915 to 2015! Happy New Year!

GOOD-LUCK-2015
Image from New Year Suggestions by Marjorie March in her monthly column about creative ideas for proper entertaining in the home from  The Modern Priscilla,  January 1915.

Women’s columnist Marjorie March wrote for her readers exactly a century ago today.

Her peaceful wishes now echo into our modern world filled with texting, selfies, blogging and all else.  What will people think about our words 100 years from now?

A century is not such a long time.

While I visited an elderly friend in a nursing facility recently, a staff member told me about a woman named Elizabeth who was about to turn 104 years old.  The staffer was concerned because the lady was unusually distraught and had tried to communicate, but no one could make sense of what she was trying to say.  So, before I left, I quietly slipped into Elizabeth’s room.

“Merry Christmas, Elizabeth, and Happy New Year,” I said to her softly.

Barely awake, her reply was a rather pitiful whimper.  Trying to be pleasant,  I didn’t expect an answer when I whispered if she remembered her favorite Christmas present from when she was a little girl.  After a moment or two without a response, I started to put on my coat to leave.

Her voice called out then, clear and loud.

“My china doll! Please! I want my china doll!”

I felt mildly panicked, realizing that I had unintentionally agitated her. Not knowing quite what to do, I hoped that I had nothing to lose when I hurried back to her bedside and whispered softly in her ear, “Elizabeth? Can you see the Christmas tree behind the doors in the parlor? The candles are lit and your doll is waiting for you there! Right theresee? She is on the floor under the tree!”

sign-name-2015
Visiting card design as illustrated in Marjorie March’s 1915 home style column from The Modern Priscilla. The illustration is a scroll designed to be a New Year’s resolution contract between friends. The idea was that the card would be signed by both individuals as a reminder to stay in touch throughout 1915.

I waited for her reaction.

Silence. Her tiny body and expressionless face were coiled up in the bed.

I barely breathed and waited nervously.  When all of a sudden, Elizabeth’s face twitched and her wrinkles spread into a wide smile.  She sighed sweetly and pulled her blankets close to her chest, gathered in such a way like when a child does while holding her most precious toy.

For that brief moment, I watched Elizabeth live again as she did 100 years ago. Beyond the aged body, she was 3 or 4 years old and standing in the twinkling light of a Christmas tree with her family, holding her little china head doll close to her heart.

No, a century is not such a long time.

The publication The Modern Priscilla from 1915 was very much like our contemporary magazines that we subscribe to today by iPhone or at least peruse while standing in checkout lines.  Similar to Martha Stewart Living and other current publications, The Modern Priscilla offered recipes, personal finance tips and elaborate directions for home made fashion and household accessories.

CLOCK-2015
Design for correspondence cards, also termed visiting cards, from January 1915 issue of Modern Priscilla.

Elizabeth’s mother likely read from her own copy of this popular January 1915 women’s magazine.  Perhaps she tried her hand at making the “correspondence cards” or visiting cards that were described in Marjorie March’s column. She might have also decorated their family dining table using Marjorie’s advice on how to create the centerpiece with “a little ship piled with bonbons and goodiesthe white sail bearing the sign ” All Aboard for 1915!”

The year 1915 would prove to have significant historic moments.  After The House of Representatives rejected the proposal to give women the right to vote on January 12, the news in February focused on the opening of the World’s Fair in San Francisco.

As the First World War continued to rage,  many hundreds of lives were lost in the United States due to some of the worst weather conditions ever recorded. During August, a hurricane killed 275 people in Galveston, Texas and another 275 lives were lost during a similar catastrophe in the Mississippi Delta region that September.  In Nevada, a 7.8 earthquake was recorded and remains one of the most historic to date.

On a more innocent note…. Quite unlike the china dolls that Elizabeth once had, the cloth Raggedy Ann was introduced to the world that year when writer and illustrator Johnny Gruelle achieved a patent for her. Babe Ruth hit his first home run.  According to most biographies, Muddy Waters was born in the spring. Then Orson Welles came into the world about a month later.  Charlie Chaplin released several silent films, including The Tramp (Le Vagabond)  while Claude Monet painted in his garden.

Marjorie March’s simple column about entertaining in the home  expressed the best advice for the New Year.  A century ago today,  she advised her readers to not underestimate “the measureless value of time spent unselfishly for another.” 

 

Like all the years before us and for all the years to come, dramatic events in our lives will create change. It is up to us to pay heed to our past and learn from our mistakes. Yet, and perhaps most important of all, is to remember and learn from the goodness as well as the greatness we’ve achieved.

May we take the world’s news during 2015 in stride and with confidence that we can surmount the greatest challenges, and with the faith that we can continue to make goodness no matter how seemingly small the gesture…because a century is not a very long time at all.

 

Ghostly Sounds From Christmas Past: Merry Christmas Eve!

This recording dates to
December 24, 1914.

…100 years ago today…

Please enjoy the authentic,
haunting sounds of Christmas Past.

May we all respectfully join together
and work for a peaceful Future!

Happy Holidays!

From Cylinder Christmas found at iTunes.

Below: Unusual postcard from circa 1915 depicts woman as St. Nicholas.

original-post-card-X,as

The First GPS and Trendy High Tech Toys for Automobiles Dated 1912

 

Stevens-Duryea Model C-Six automobile as advertised in September 1, 1912 special millinery issue of Vogue Magazine. The Steven-Duryea was advertised between $4500 to $5950. Compare this to the fact that the average US worker made $200-$400 annuallly...a more educated mechanical engineer took home about $5000.  Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
Illustration of Stevens-Duryea Model C-Six automobile as advertised in September 1, 1912 special millinery issue of Vogue magazine,  listed between $4500 to $5950. Compare this car’s price to statistics showing that the average US worker made $200-$400 annually that year, while well-educated mechanical engineers’ salaries were $5000.  Image digitally enhanced for clarity.  thegildedtimes.wordpress.com


If you wanted the latest high tech toy in 1912, it would have been a GPS for your car. Then came the swanky odometers, nouveau speedometers and celluloid covered, leather bound road maps.

 

The Jones Live Map directional GPS device offered a real time way to get from here to there without getting lost. This was essential during an era when few roads were paved and there were few places to find gasoline along the way.  It was tricky to even find the shortest route to your destination and most drivers were well aware that their romantic motoring adventures could quickly become disastrous.

While there is a certain amount of fascination in touring through an unfamiliar part of the country and in wondering what will be the view in store for us just around the corner, the driver must be forewarned of dangerous turns and steep hills, and must be ready to take this road or that at the next fork.

There are poor roads of course as well as good, and the average motorist ought to keep to the latter, even though the scenery on the better highways may not be as picturesque.

The roads of this country are being improved at the rate of thousands of miles a year, and a route  which may be almost impassable one season may be converted into a fine boulevard the next.

Unknown journalist.
All quotes from “The Conquering of New Roads.”
Vogue magazine,  Millinery Number,  September 1, 1912

Jones Live Map was originally invented by J.W. Jones during the year 1909 and was readily available to motorists by 1912. The device was directly attached to the outer edge of the car, next to the steering wheel on the driver’s side. The Live Map was a fairly large, brass receptacle that held a celluloid disc, and this was connected by a cable to the front wheel of the car in such a manner that it will rotate at a proportionate speed.

The “live map” consists of a celluloid disc marked off on its outer edge with the various touring data included in that section. The distances between cross-roads, turns, hills, or whatever other road marks, are indicated and are placed in their proper relation to each other.

A pointer on the receptacle indicates the position of the car as long as one adheres to the prescribed route.

When the route is again taken up after a deviation has been made, the Live Map may be set so that the indicator will point to that locality at which the main highway is again followed. 

Thus it requires but a glance at the point to determine the exact location of the car.

The Live Map’s celluloid discs were marked with enough information to map out about 100 miles. Once that section had been traveled, the driver would stop the car and replace the disc with the next one in the series. This continued until the desired destination was reached. Celluloid was considered stronger than paper maps, easier to keep clean and dry, and was decidedly richer in appearance.

The first GPS:  Jones Live Map. "A live map, in and out of its case, that does all of the computing." Quote from "The Conquering of New Roads." No author listed. Image scanned from Vogue magazine, special millinery issue, September 1, 1912. Digitally enhanced for clarity. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
The first GPS: Jones Live Map. “A live map, in and out of its case, that does all of the computing.” Quotes and images from “The Conquering of New Roads.” No author listed. Image scanned from Vogue magazine, special millinery issue, September 1, 1912. Digitally enhanced for clarity. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

Interestingly enough, a Jones Live Map, with its celluloid discs, went up for bid at Boston’s Skinner Auction House during the summer of 2006. It sold for $764. In contrast, during the summer of 1912,  Henry Ford’s Model T car was selling for just about the very same price.

Rand-McNally, a familiar company in today’s world, produced the very first paper road maps only 8 years before this article was published. Vogue advises fashionable drivers who own luxury roadsters that they should certainly store their newest maps in one of the showy, expensive, leather bound cases. These were designed so that paper maps were slipped into a broad pouch and then read through a protective celluloid cover.

To one who has tried to turn the pages of a road map in the strong wind created by the rapid travel of the car, this celluloid covering, that holds the leaves in place and at the same time protects them from dust, mud and rain, will strongly appeal.

The prices for these elegant road maps were quoted as $1.50, $2.50 or $3 depending upon the style, quality of leather and the custom color schemes created to match the vehicle. It is curious to note that while Vogue featured this $3 mapping luxury,  textile mill employees at Lawrence, Massachusetts made about $8 per 56-hour work week that year.

"A leather case with a celluloid front to hold the indispensable road map." Quotes and images from "The Conquering of New Roads." No author listed. Image scanned from Vogue magazine, special millinery issue, September 1, 1912. Digitally enhanced for clarity. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
“A leather case with a celluloid front to hold the indispensable road map.”
Quotes and images from “The Conquering of New Roads.” No author listed. Image scanned from Vogue magazine, special millinery issue, September 1, 1912. Digitally enhanced for clarity. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

Swanky speedometers with odometers topped off the list of glamorous gadgets. If installed correctly, they provided drivers with trip figures and just the right mathematics in order to accurately follow paper road maps.  The large sized speedometers also provided amusement to passengers who could watch along to see just how fast they were going. In fact, it was suggested that a second speedometer might be placed within the car so that everyone could see the speedand the time.

The modern speedometer is a handsome brass or nickel-plated instrument that is an ornament to any car. In addition to the speed which it constantly  indicates, and the total and daily mileage which is registered, it may be combined with an eight-day clock of the finest design and construction.

The face of the clock is equal to the size of the speedometer, and the dial and figures are thus sufficiently large to enable the time to be read from any part of the car.

For night driving, the dials of the speedometer and the clock are provided with small electric lights places in brass tubes in such a manner that the rays are thrown directly on the figures.

Although we traditionally remember the year 1912 due to the sinking of the Titanicperhaps even more historic were the technological concepts that were introduced that year. Now over a century later, there are few working examples of the Jones Live Map or other mapping devices left. However,  their innovative concepts are forever part of our everyday life.




 

The Flap Over The Flapper’s Cloche

 

Geneviève, our circa 1918 French millinery mannequin models a woven horsehair horsehair cloche with silk band. The brooch is original to the hat. Photograph by Julia Henri thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
Geneviève, our French millinery mannequin, models a circa 1928 woven horsehair horsehair cloche with silk band. This cloche has a brim stitched up into the hat’s crown as was the design requirement for this year. Photograph by Julia Henri thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
Millinery fashion photograph by unknown photographer for Chicago Hat Mfg, published in "The Illustrated Milliner" vol 29, 1928. The silhouette is quite similar to the design on Geneviève's cloche.
Millinery photograph by unknown photographer for Chicago Hat Mfg, published in “The Illustrated Milliner” vol 29, 1928. The silhouette is quite similar to the design on Geneviève’s cloche. Enhanced image. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

 


The overall image of The Flapper during the Roaring Twenties is one that most anyone  can envision. Flappers wore short hair,  slinky silk dresses often covered with glistening beaded fringe and rhinestone bling. They had careers, or at least a job, and many drove automobiles. At night, the women met at secret speakeasies where they danced the Charleston, drank alcohol and smoked using glamorous, long bakelite cigarette holders. Their twinkling metallic purses carried their own money, lipstick and crimson rouge…but most of all, a flapper always wore a hat.

It was a particular kind of hat. Called a cloche due to the bell-shaped silhouette, the hat was styled to tightly hug the head. In fact, cloches were often so tightly fitted, that the wearer had to struggle for a second or two in order to pop the hat down over her ears.

A cloche was often pulled down so far over the head that one could barely see both eyebrows, which were pencil thin and plucked away almost entirely. This low riding hat emphasized the eyes, which were usually darkly shadowed with make-up.

“It’s the brim that makes the hat alluring, following the trail of the eyebrow.”

Our French millinery mannequin models a woven horsehair cloche with silk band. The brooch is original to the hat. Photograph by Julia Henri thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
Our French millinery mannequin models a woven horsehair cloche with silk band. The brooch is original to the hat. Photograph by Julia Henri thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

Throughout the 1920s, the dimensions of the brims changed the look of a cloche, but it was a necessity in design to keep that deep eyebrow skimming line. Knees could be seen, but foreheads were covered.

Cloches are one way of accurately dating and documenting photographs and illustrations from that era. Whether wide brims, angled brims or no brims; the type of materials, hand-embroidery, beaded and even hand-painted designs on cloches may be used to accurately track down the year or even the very month to when the hat was sold. Cloche design motifs and patterns were heavily reported during the 1920s in newspapers, magazines and trade publications.  A 1920’s cloche was the ultimate personal statement of who a woman was.

According to “The Illustrated Milliner” vol 29 May 1928, it was necessary to have a cloche with a brim of some kind for the spring and summer of that year. While many brims flared out to create a true big-bell design silhouette, there were tightly fitting cloches with brims that were folded up and stitched against the crown of the hat. Although this may seem like a brimless hat, it was not described as such during 1928.

The Illustrated Milliner’s editor decreed, “Every hat must have a brim, even helmets and toques, the verdict of Paris.”  One the new “up-over-one-eye hats” favored at the Paris shows that year “was made from knitted, super-fine jersey straw.” These were worn by “the smartest of smart women. At luncheon yesterday at the Ritz I counted twenty of them, each in a different color scheme.”

Cloche styled hats rank historically as one of the most artistic and creative accessory designs in fashion history.  Elaborate trims were created by milliners who worked at their salons like artists sculpting in their studios.  Many trims were easily changed out so that the hat design could match any number of dresses.  Women had personal ways of adorning their hats and often used rhinestone or bakelite brooches, although wealthy women did not hesitate to pin on a diamond or two.

Our French millinery mannequin models her 1928 summer horsehair hat trimmed with its original rhinestone brooch. Photograph by Julia Henri thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
Our French millinery mannequin models a fashionable 1928 Cornsilk colored horsehair hat, banded with Lily Green silk and trimmed with its original rhinestone brooch. Photograph by Julia Henri thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

Colors for cloche styles were chosen by the millinery industry’s Allied Millinery Association and were carefully reported on in the May issue of “The Illustrated Milliner.” Since it was practical to say that every single woman in the United States owned at least one hat during 1928, even the simplest mention of color made a huge impact on the fashion market.

According to guest fashion journalist Margaret Hayden Rorke, managing director of The Textile Color Card Association of the USA, the ten colors chosen for summer 1928 included:

“CORNSILK: a mellow yellow, the color of that fluffy silken tassel that so proudly bedecks the ripped corn.”

“LUCERNE BLUE: a light, dulcet violet tinted blue, like…azure waters of that…Swiss lake mirroring the dome of the sky….”

“BELLEEK:  A delicate, intriguing off-white shade, is that creamy tint of eggshell porcelain called Belleek, which for so many years Ireland has made famous.”

“LILY GREEN: Is a delightful shade, light in value with just enough yellow in its composition to add verve.”

The back of the 1928 summer cloche. No milliner's mark of any kind. Photograph by Julia Henri thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
The back of the 1928 summer cloche. No milliner’s mark of any kind. Photograph by Julia Henri thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

“TRIUMPH BLUE: Is a medium blue very rich in tone, slightly greenish in cast…. It’s the blue of the sky in its first mood of twilight, and is named in honor of Lindbergh’s triumphant flight.”

“GULL: A pale grey of slightly rosy cast, is the sparkling color of the seagull’s wings as it flies from the crest of a wave up to the sun.”

“CASTILION RED: That vivacious, scintillating hue of Old Spain, suggestive of flashing dark eyes, a fan and a mantilla – the color that Goya…so deftly applied to high-light his canvasses.”

“PEACHBEIGE: …a beige with a peach-bluish tone, so becoming to all types of femininity.”

“PINE FROST: Another charming green – one of the new Shadow Shades, is a silvery grey-green shade, for all the world like frost glistening on stately pine trees.”

“DIADEM: A tender orchid shade…a royal shade as beautiful as the delicate tinted dahlia…from which its name is borrowed.”

Cloches are pictured in nearly every publication during this period. Photographs depict millinery models wearing cloches styled with furs, various types of ostrich boas or while holding huge “petal” fans made from silk marquisette (a wispy meshed fabric) stretched across bakelite sticks.

Obviously,  fashion designers working during the The Roaring Twenties were nearly at their ultimate pitch in glamour that summer.

The fashion industry would continue to produce luxurious fashions…one topping the next, for just about another year.

Then…on an autumn day dated October 29, 1929…a historic day coined Black Tuesday…the stock market crashed…and the fabulous fashions and glam of the Roaring Twenties essentially ended.

Cloches and a wide brimmed picture hat created for a luxury line called "Normandie Hats" by Nathan Schreiber, New York. Photograph taken in 1928 by Fotokraft Photos. Enhanced image. the gilded times.wordpress.com
Cloches and a wide brimmed picture hat created for a luxury line called “Normandie Hats” by Nathan Schreiber, New York. Photograph taken in 1928 by Fotokraft Photos. Enhanced image. the gilded times.wordpress.com


Original text & photographs ©2014 Julia Henri
Please use citations and references to The Gilded Times.
http://www.thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
http://www.thegildedtimes.com



 

Nine Cities, Nine Styles: A Fashion Designer’s Travel Log Dated 1926

 

Best-Corinne-Dillon
“Peach Tree Frock.” Peach taffeta dress inspired by Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia. This is the first of nine dress designs inspired by a tour of nine major U.S. cities for the 1926 July issue of “Woman’s Home Companion”. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced.  thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

“Some people start out to see the rainbow over Niagara Falls,
the totem poles in Seattle or the Adobe Houses in New Mexico, 
but we were geared for fashion.”

Designer Isabel De Nyse Conover was the Jessica Simpson of her day. Feisty, artful and respected, her designs reflected a gracious elegance during the Roaring Twenties.

Not only a designer, Isabel was also Fashion Editor for Woman’s Home Companion. Her assignment for the July 1926 issue was to travel across the United States and compare styles favored by the women who lived there. Based on her impressions during the trip, Conover was directed to design 9 dresses inspired by her findings.

These are her designs, along with her edited notes taken from her travel journal about each city, as published.

Conover and her editorial staff companions, Willa Roberts and Corinne Dillon traveled from New York City to Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Omaha and finally, Chicago.

Willa Roberts acted as both general assistant and editor on this particular escapade, while Corinna Dillon was illustrator who made Conover’s fashion designs come alive. In 1926, it was considered daring for women to travel without a man, especially on a transcontinental tour for business purposes. Conover wrote in her log that their hotel reservations were made by Willa Roberts, since her name was most easily changed to  “William” Roberts for the sake of appearances.

Beginning at NYC’s Penn Station, the threesome enjoyed traveling to Atlanta, Georgia on one of the most elegant trains in service, the Crescent Limited. Now considered one of the most luxurious trains that ever traveled, the women were booked into one of the opulent, two-toned green Pullmans, which contained three separate, comfortable sleeping bunks.

“We congratulated each other on being attached to a national publication,” states Conover, especially since they were aboard the Limited, because their trip was entirely paid for by Woman’s Home Companion

“Now that I have owned up to F.E. (Fashion Editor), you may jump to the conclusion that our (hat) box contained hats…(but) reporting fashions requires munitions, scratch pads, drawing paper, board, pencils, loose-leaf notebooks, Paris cables, and style comparisons.” Conover added that their calfskin hat box case was so tightly overpacked that it put a hump in one of their berths, when stored beneath. They had decided from the beginning that “we were out not to spring a new style on an unsuspecting Atlanta, Dallas or Los Angeles, but (we wanted to gather) impressions.”


 

ATLANTA

“Our train rumbled into Atlanta in the twilight…we hailed a taxi and were whisked up Peachtree Street to the hotel…. There is a certain romantic feeling about motoring, tramping and shopping up at Peachtree Street…. My impression of Atlanta is the Peach Tree frock.” (illustration above)


 NEW ORLEANS

Dillon-Woman's-Home-Comp-July-1926-ATLANTA
“The Bienville Coat.” Silk crêpe roma embroidered coat inspired by jazzy New Orleans for the 1926 July issue of Woman’s Home Companion. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

“We stepped down from the train in New Orleans in the midst of a banana men’s convention. But I couldn’t work up much enthusiasm over a banana-colored dress. The next day we went through the candy kitchen of a large department store and my mind was full of spun sugar textures, caramel colors or peppermint stripes. But after I had my lunch, my interest in eatable impressions waned.”

“Due to good Louisiana cooking, we were in need of exercise so we did the old French quarter on foot…. After we caught the train…conversation revolved around Bienville and other gay cavaliers who are responsible for New Orleans being where it is.”

This conversation inspired Conover to design a “gallant, dashing” coat, directly inspired “from a French courtier’s costume of 1718.”

Flop-crop-dallas
“Dallas. Black and White.” Contrast is key in this dress design with rippling tunic over straight slim skirt. The stripes were hand-embroidered with silk floss. Black on white silk tunic and white embroidery on the black silk skirt. The buckle is made of onyx. 1926 July issue of Woman’s Home Companion. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

 


 

DALLAS

“Perhaps it’s because we came into Dallas at sunrise that it seems such a mirage in the plain. To me (Dallas) is a city to be exclaimed over, (with) high buildings springing from the flatness of the plains like an Arabian Nights picture. Sharp contrasts, high tempo. I think of it as a young city where one sees dash, daring and diamonds.”

“I put my Dallas impressions into a frock of contrasts…straight and flaring lines, black and white silk.”

 

 

 


 


 


 

 

 

 

LOS ANGELES

“In one afternoon we drove over forty miles of Los Angeles streets and saw four thousand Spanish homes, to say nothing of missions thrown in on Sundays.”

Conover described the Spanish influences that practically overwhelmed her, “Spanish shawls, picturesque evening dresses with fitted bodices and long skirts (with) distended hips after the (old) court fashions…and Spanish lace…. oh, I could design a dozen dresses…instead of just one.”

FLOP-CROP-LA-DILLON
Los Angeles is “fragrant with Spanish traditions.” Black silk lace over black silk dress with mantilla influenced cape. The wide toreador styled sash is made from brilliant lapis blue silk. 1926 July issue of Woman’s Home Companion. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

 

 

According to Conover in the 1926 July issue of Woman's Home Companion, "Gray is fashionable and so is San Francisco," which was the city of  inspiration for this dress. Made from gray silk chiffon with filmy jabot, as soft and delicate as the wispy fog that floats across that city. Accessories are matching gray silk chiffon hat and gray kid leather slippers. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
According to Conover in the 1926 July issue of Woman’s Home Companion, “Gray is fashionable and so is San Francisco,” which was the city of inspiration for this dress. Made from gray silk chiffon with filmy jabot, as soft and delicate as the wispy fog that floats across that city. Accessories are matching gray silk chiffon hat and gray kid leather slippers. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Gray. Isabel describes a world wrapped in fog at San Francisco, a land with sharp “hills (against) classic buildings swathed in lovely misty gray. And the sea gulls…. Our trips back and forth to Berkeley are responsible for the filmy gray chiffon frock” that was designed to commemorate this city.

San Francisco, she wrote, is “a city with French imported frocks in the shop windows, and women everywhere who wore their clothes with an air.  Then there are the sea gulls, as permanent a part of the seascape as the bay itself…and…(there was) that mist clung to the steep sides of the hills.”


SEATTLE

“First thing in the morning when we looked out of our hotel window, in Seattle, we saw ships at anchor in Puget Sound. And we kept on seeing ships all day long.

It gave me something of a start to walk down a business street and stumble onto a miniature lake with a full-sized ocean-going ship riding serenely in the center of it. Having its barnacles taken off in fresh water, they told us. Whatever its errand in the business section of Seattle, it was a vivid picture.

There were the locks, too, and the shops, the interesting little shops that showed the jades and crystals that the ships brought from Shanghai and Hongkong.

On every side we were reminded of the Orient. I liked Seattle and I hope that Seattle like my impression of it that made me think of a China-blue frock and lacquer-red parasol.”

"There are many pleasant things about Seattle, mountains and lakes that might be put into poetry.... But when it comes to clothes, it is the port nearest the Orient, a city laden with treasures from the Sea Captain's Chest, as one of its little shops is so appropriately called." Words by Isabel De Nyse Conover. China blue, shiny crêpe satin dress has exceptionally long red silk trim and tassel. Accompanied by a matching red lacquered parasol. 1926 July issue of Woman's Home Companion. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
“There are many pleasant things about Seattle, mountains and lakes that might be put into poetry…. But when it comes to clothes, it is the port nearest the Orient, a city laden with treasures from the Sea Captain’s Chest, as one of its little shops is so appropriately called.” Words by Isabel De Nyse Conover. China blue, shiny crêpe satin dress has exceptionally long red silk trim and tassel. Accompanied by a matching red lacquered parasol. 1926 July issue of Woman’s Home Companion. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

 


SALT-LAKE-CITY-JULY-1926-WOMANS-HOME
“Back in 1847, when Salt Lake City was settled, they wore dull skirts, right basques and bishop sleeves And they are wearing them to-day.” Made with calico look-alike beige silk with green and blue floral pattern. The designs motifs are repeated on th esheer silk organ die collar and cuffs. Words by Isabel De Nyse Conover. China blue, shiny crêpe satin dress has exceptionally long red silk trim and tassel. Accompanied by a matching red lacquered parasol. 1926 July issue of Woman’s Home Companion. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com



 

 

SALT LAKE CITY

“Zigzagging down to Salt Lake City, I thought I should have time to read a little history. But there was always a new mountain ahead of the train and by the time I had counted and classified some of the trees on it, there was another just coming into view. I had to go to bed early because I had to get up at sunrise in order not to miss the next mountains.”

“A log cabin nestling under its substantial marble hood, the first hour in Utah, is just one of the reminders of the covered-wagon days. We called it the Pioneer City, and to it I have dedicated a dress designed in the fashion of 1847, and very much in the style of 1926.”

 


 

_FLOP-OMAHA
Although Conover “admits that she did not see an Indian in Omaha (because) it is groomed, polished, sophisticated as an Eastern city. But there were reminders, exhibits of original Indian art inside Aquila Court and an Indian tepee outside, and an Indian room at her hotel. And every associates Indian raids and the building of the railroad with Omaha.” Silk two-piece dress is designed with slashes in the blouse and shoulder line with insets of hand-embroidery in a motif taken directly from Indian blanket patterns. 1926 July issue of Woman’s Home Companion. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

 



 


 

 

OMAHA

“I was busy with the guidebook that told blood-curdling tales of the building of the railroad.

I was thrilled when we rounded a corner and faced a wooden Indian outside of a cigar store

There is no question about Omaha. It is cultured, groomed, sophisticated now, but it used to be the land of the Indians.

For Omaha I have taken artist’s license and adapted an Indian costume to the trim lines of a little daytime frock.”


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

CHICAGO

“Coming out from the Chicago Art Institute and its collection of French moderns, we saw Michigan Avenue with its jagged towers in a late afternoon light, a street that might be reproduced in diagonals and triangles of sunshine and shadow. Chicago is the modern city, a city that is eliminating the superfluous. For Chicago…a modernistic print…because “Chicago is animated, brisk jocose. A city that might be painted in vigorous straight lines and angles in the modern school.” The three women, Conover, Roberts and Dillon went on to produce solid clothing designs, books and magazine articles for decades. Their career work during the 1920s laid exemplary professional foundations for all women.

"Animation. Chicago." Movement and rhythm are created within the lines of this dress using block printed silk. "The material wraps spiral fashion around the arms to form the sleeves. Squarely cut pieces of the silk cross in the back, and pass around the hips. Animation is not a dress in which one might hunch one's shoulders and slump. It's graceful -- vivaciously graceful -- a frock like Chicago that demands that one step briskly." 1926 July issue of Woman's Home Companion. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
“Animation. Chicago.” Movement and rhythm are created within the lines of this dress using block printed silk. “The material wraps spiral fashion around the arms to form the sleeves. Squarely cut pieces of the silk cross in the back, and pass around the hips. Animation is not a dress in which one might hunch one’s shoulders and slump. It’s graceful — vivaciously graceful — a frock like Chicago that demands that one step briskly.” 1926 July issue of Woman’s Home Companion. Illustration by Corinne Dillon. Fashion designed by Isabel De Nyse Conover. Image enhanced. thegildedtimes.wordpress.com


Original text & photographs ©2014 Julia Henri
Please use citations and references to The Gilded Times.
http://www.thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
http://www.thegildedtimes.com



 




 

 

 

1920s Summer Tea with Recipes from the Great Gatsby Era

Porch-tea-illustration
Illustration by unknown artist for “Porch Teas” July 1926 issue of “Women’s Home Companion” at thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby did not receive the greatest reception when it was first published during April of 1925. Perhaps that’s because the words hit just a little too close to home for many readers back then. Yet, today, we love Mr. Gatsby and romanticize about an era when people took the time to breathe and relax on a warm summer’s day…a time when friends and newly made acquaintances shared food, ideas and news during conversations amongst themselves…and in person.

Pleasantries and polite teas were required for healthy socializing, according to the article entitled Porch Teas, written by Woman’s Home Companion food editor, Alice Bradley, July 1926.  Bradley was a respected chef and taught alongside Fannie Farmer for most of her career. At this time, she was Principal at Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, located at Huntington Chambers, 30 Huntington Avenue, Boston.

After Fannie Farmer suffered a fatal stroke, aged 57 during 1915, Alice Bradley purchased the business and continued in Farmer’s footsteps. She worked to inspire every day housewives and nurses about the importance of nutrition and cookery arts. She taught women chefs until the school closed during the mid-1940s.

These are some of Alice Bradley’s recipes….

Rhubarb Frappé is served when it is icy cold, slushy. There's not a strawberry in sight! It's that small amount of freshly squeezed orange juice that brings out the strong, fresh rhubarb color and flavor. Recipe from July 1926 "Woman's Home Companion". Photograph by J. Henri
Rhubarb Frappé is one of summer’s joys when served slushy, and icy cold in frosted glasses. There’s not a strawberry in sight! Instead, a small amount of freshly squeezed orange juice brings out the strong, fresh rhubarb flavor and color. Recipe from “Porch Teas” by Alice Bradley, July 1926,  “Woman’s Home Companion”. Photograph by J. Henri @thegildedtimes.wordpress.com

Frappés were highly favored, frosty beverages served during the Roaring Twenties. Everyone had ice boxes or if you were wealthy enough, you might even afford one of the very first electric, domestic refrigerators sold during 1926 for a mere $285.

So this slushy, frozen, fruity concoction was relatively easy to create and certainly welcomed by anyone. If you were not temperance minded, then these flavorful drinks could easily cover the taste of otherwise bristling home-made alcohol, which was also quite illegal then.

After testing Alice Bradley’s specialties in our studio kitchen, we discovered that her 1920s recipes are surprisingly simple to make, inexpensive and require few ingredients…and each recipe is uniquely flavorful…downright delicious, in fact.

We also found that the iced tea drinks, usually made with a powerful brew of black India Assam tea, gives an especially strong, caffeinated kick. After all, one doesn’t need alcohol to experience a buzz!

See the recipe for Black India Assam tea drink
called India Frappé in this week’s first post, dated July 20, 2014.
Iced "India Frappé" (right) is made from a dark brew of black India Assam tea mixed with pureed strawberries and citrus juices. Served over crushed ice, this outstanding drink is even better when slightly frozen in slushy 1920s frappé style.  The drink is perfectly paired with ginger nutmeat tea sandwiches (foreground) accompanied by fresh coconut cakes. Historical recipes dated 1920 and 1926 are found at thegildedtimes.wordpress.com.  Photograph by J.Henri.
Iced India Frappé (right) is made from a dark brew of black India Assam tea mixed with pureed strawberries and citrus juices. Served over crushed ice, this outstanding drink is even better when slightly frozen in slushy 1920s frappé style. The drink is perfectly paired with ginger nutmeat tea sandwiches (foreground) accompanied by fresh coconut cakes. These historical recipes from 1921 and 1926 are found at thegildedtimes.wordpress.com. Photograph by J.Henri.

According to Alice Bradley, “Tea on the porch is one of the most delightful ways of repaying social obligations. Then too, it makes a pleasant ending for a club meeting or a bridge party.”

“With the tea, pass cream and sugar, quartered slices of lemon garnished with bits of candied cherry and whole cloves, or a spiced sirup (sic).”

Cream Cheese and Ginger Sandwiches

Mix cream cheese with
chopped Canton ginger and chopped nuts.

Spread on bread and cut in finger-shaped strips.
Garnish with watercress.

Editor’s Note:
These amazingly simple nutmeat with ginger finger sandwiches
are inexpensive to make and surprisingly tasty.
The recipe makes about 12 sandwiches or 4 servings.

Here’s a few helpful hints from our kitchen:

•We finely grated about 3 inches of fresh ginger root 
and added this, along with its juice, to soft cream cheese.
•We used 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts for this recipe.
•The sandwiches stay together perfectly when the
cream cheese mixture is spread over both slices of tea bread.
•Place a single layer of fresh watercress leaves
on one slice before closing the sandwich.
•Be sure to trim off the crusts, then slice again into 4 long, thin strips.


Coconut Cakes

1 fresh coconut          7 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons corn sirup
Rose color paste
1 egg white
Grate sufficient coconut to make 2 cups.
Put with corn sirup (sic) and sugar in top of double boiler, add color to make a delicate pink.

Stir and cook until mixture clings to spoon.
Add white of egg and cook until mixture
feels sticky when tried
 between fingers.
Spread in wet pan, cover with wet paper, and cool.

Then chill by setting pan on ice in refrigerator.
Shape into balls, first dipping hands in cold water.
If 1-1/2 tablespoons of mixture are used for each,
10 cakes can be made.

Heat a tin sheet slightly and rub with white wax,
paraffin or cooking oil.

Place balls on sheet and bake in slow oven about 20 minutes, being careful that they do not lose their color.

Editor’s Note:
•To simplify the process, we used finely grated, organic coconut from the baking section of our local grocery. To this, we added 2-3 tablespoons of water to moisten the coconut so that it was refreshed.
•We used superfine Baker’s sugar instead of coarse table sugar.
The measurements for both are the same.
•Inexpensive food coloring will create a lovely pink shade.
You should take time to mix this thoroughly. Please only use 1 drop.
•We baked this in a convection oven at 285 degrees for 20 minutes.
Coconut cakes should be removed *before* they turn golden brown.
•The recipe makes 10 bite sized cakes…but you’ll wish you had more!


Rhubarb Frappé

1 quart rhubarb      3 pints water
1/3 cup orange juice  4 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 cups sugar
Few grains of salt

Cook rhubarb, cut in small pieces, with water until soft.
Squeeze through double thickness of cheesecloth, add sugar and
boil until sugar is dissolved. Add fruit juices and salt.
Mix thoroughly and chill in freezer, surrounded with equal 
parts ice and salt. Turn crank intermittently, freezing 
to a mush. Serve in glass from punch bowl with a
large block of ice, garnished with mint leaves.
This recipe will serve 8 people.

Editor’s Note:
•This is an unusual and very delicious, easy recipe!
•A fine mesh strainer or chinois will work
if you’re out of cheese cloth.
•Simply place drink mixture in a stainless steel bowl,
and leave it in your freezer until mushy consistency.
This recipe will make an amazing sorbet!
•And about that pinch of salt…
it’s true you only need a pinch…
those tiny grains will make that
fresh rhubarb flavor burst in your mouth!


 

Original text & photographs ©2014 Julia Henri
Please use citations and references to The Gilded Times.
http://www.thegildedtimes.wordpress.com
http://www.thegildedtimes.com