Not Fashion, But Can You Imagine?

A menu for a 1906 stag dinner.

Stuffed olives: These are served on rounds of crisp bread which has been fried in butter then spread with anchovy paste.

Soup Royale: made from chicken broth, clams and sweet corn pulp, with eggs dropped in. Sounds like a version of egg drop soup. Alternately, a clear beef marrow bone soup could be served. The recipe for the clear soup takes two days.

Planked fish, brown bread sandwiches: the easiest dish on the menu.

Thumb Bits: broiled tenderlion of beef and served with potato balls with Mustard sauce.

Broiled Squabs with orange fritters around a mound of boiled rice. The rice is just for show.

Artichokes on toast.

Tonquin ice – a type of lemon ice with added ginger.

Game pasty: a type of double crusted pie served cold or hot. The pie’s filling is made from six quails just in half, then combining the livers of the quail, minced mushrooms, the yolks of two hard boiled eggs and one yolk from an uncooked egg. The birds’ cavities are filled with oysters, then the whole thing is covered with chicken stock and then cooked. BE sure to top it with a pastry rose!

Lobster Salad: This can be made a day in advance — hallelujah! It is comprised of lobster, cucumber pulp, gelatin and mayonnaise, then moulded.

Mocha Pudding: yes. Coffee infused pudding.

Cafe brule a la chandler: Use a sugar cube that has been saturated with “high proof brandy.” Set it afire, which will burn it down to a nice caramel syrup, then turn it into the coffee. “Pass sugar, for the caramel, like all caramel, will not possess much sweetness.”

I also came across a 1902 Thanksgiving dinner menu that included a recipe for mincemeat that added up to almost fifty pounds — including nine pounds of sugar! These old recipes are crazy, aren’t they?

sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion, Vintage Kids

McCall Bazar and a Sack Apron

McCall Bazar 8198, circa 1904.

I came across this amazing early 1900s pattern in my stash and, as usual, I had questions. This was, I believe, the first time I remember seeing the McCall Bazar name. I did a little research and found that they advertised that McCall Bazar patterns were available since 1870, but I don’t think that the Bazar was actually in the name until about October 1902. That is at least when the name started showing up in ads. That being said, there is a blurb in a 1900 ad for the McCall Bazar Dressmaker magazine, which was essentially McCall’s monthly catalog, so I guess it’s probable that the Bazar name was included at least by that time.

The ad in 1902, however, said that the McCall Bazar line was new, and started with number 6414m so it’s a bit of a mystery. I’m going to have to start paying more attention to my early McCall patterns. Don’t kid yourself, it’s very unusual for me to come across one this old in the stash. Research shows that the Bazar named disappeared from ads in 1914, so that gives a rough idea of what time period these patterns were designated as such.

Meantime, how’s about this wonderful sack apron pattern? Sack aprons were designed to be worn over one’s dress, so that a lady could do the washing up, then take her apron off and still have a fresh dress in which to entertain. They also made sack aprons for little girls, so that they didn’t muss their dresses whilst playing. The girls’ aprons were a French trend brought to the US, but I think that the women’s sack aprons were around earlier. It was a great way to avoid wear on clothing that was expensive to make, both in time and money, and to cut down on laundry.

What do you think? I wouldn’t be able to stand wearing it, as I have zero tolerance for heat, but I think it was a great idea. You can take a look at the pattern in my Etsy shop.

self help

‘Splain This To Me, Lucy

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I love to read old etiquette books, and have quite a collection of them. It’s fun to see how manners have changed over the years, and it’s good to have a reminder of how grandma would have expected for me to behave, given I’m just shy of a caveman in comparison.

I was listing a 1940s etiquette book in the shop today, after quizzing my husband on the customs of 1940 last night. He actually did surprisingly well, though I shouldn’t be surprised. As irreverent as he is most days (he’s a Marine, after all, so he says it how he sees it), he was trained in the 1950s by his brother, who was in a fraternity at Miami University. His brother was very proper, and drilled it into my husband. Hubby also got some training on protocol in the Marines, especially since he was an officer, and there were expectations. I have a vintage book about how to be a good officer’s wife, but I’d fail from the get-go since I don’t cook.

So when I came across this piece in a 1929 Vogue etiquette book, I was confused. You tell me what this means:

“The sight of bones being picked and the appearance of fingers and faces afterward to not linger agreeably in the memory….The only way to meet the ordeal of removing fish and terrapin bones from the mouth is to meet it frankly and firmly. If the bone can be brought to the edge of the lips, it can be pulled out quietly between the finger and thumb. If it dludes the pursuit of the tongue, there’s nothing to be done but choke or hunt for it. The elegant who object to choking are sometimes driven to the cover of the held-up napkin while they hunt. This is one degree worse than hunting in the open, and it is therefor suggested that any beast bristling with bones be chewed cautiously and in the front of the mouth.”

Vogue’s Book of Etiquette, 1929, p. 197.

Are they suggesting that you choke on a fish bone rather than removing it? Have they never heard of how Christian Dior died (true, he died 25 years after this book, but still…). Am I reading this wrong? I have so many questions.

Tell me what you think.

Note: I may receive a small amount of compensation for purchases from affiliate links.


Sewing Birds

1911 Daniel Low & Co catalog

I came across this ad in a catalog called “One Hundred Birthday Gifts,” published in 1911 by Daniel Low & Company. I was fascinated by this “sewing bird.” They were used as a third hand, to help hold one’s sewing project taut. The bird clamps to the table, then you insert the end of the fabric into the bird’s mouth, so you have your hands free to do the sewing. Some, like this one, have one or two pincushions on them, and though some are quite plain, others are very ornate. This one sold for 85 cents, which in today’s currency would be roughly $25.

Sewing birds were invented by one Thaddeus Fowler, who had other inventions like a machine to stick pins into paper, one to sort pins, and ones to make needles and horseshoes. Ads for sewing birds were first seen around 1852. There were birds also that could be used to wind skeins of thread or yarn, and were quite popular. The price then was from 20 to 88 cents, and they seemed to be most commonly sold by jewelers. Mr. Fowler, unfortunately, died destitute in 1887,

I’m fascinated by things like this. I’ve never seen one in use. Have you? Click here to see the sewing bird listings on ebay. I believe that this one is a twin to this ad.