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A Brief History of Fashion and Equipment

The following is an eclectic timeline that should give you some idea when some styles and approaches appeared on the clothing scene

Late 1700's: Steel pens introduced but not readily adopted. 
There are references from this period to fountain pens, which may have been quills with a feeding chamber above the nib, but the modern version was much later.

1750's: Wooden, pottery and 1/2 barrel bathtubs were being used. 
First metal one built in the U.S. in 1842. It was a 7' Mahogany box lined with sheet metal. The first enameled cast iron tub was not made until the 1870's   

1760's: Machine made lace available.

1780's: Tailors in Paris begin to use fabric left over from orders to make items of clothing to be sold ready to wear to the man with cash that the item fit.

            Cotton introduced into the United States as a cash crop from the West Indies. Earlier cotton was mostly grown in the middle- and far-east. England, after lifting a ban on cottons in the mid-1700's had developed various manufacturing processes and weaving machines that were kept secret. They came to the States when an apprentice, Samuel Slater, left England in disguise and came to New England.

            The cotton gin was developed in 1793 and with the availability of raw materials and technology, cotton accounted for one-third of United States exports by the 1830's.

1790's: A prototype of the sewing machine was made. By 1830 it was used commercially in France for military uniforms. In 1841 Elias Howe patented the lock stitch machine and Singer began to market his version on an international scale. The home machine was a viable product by 1851 but not out of the patent pool until 1856. Multi-needle embroidery machines were used industrially in the 1850's 

1800's: The soft drink industry got it's start in 1807 in New Haven, Conn. See "Prepare at Home" for more info and recipes.

             Preserving food in a glass container was accomplished in France in 1809. For more information see "Prepare at Home"

1820's:  Elastic fabric for shoe inserts invented by a Mr. Hancock.

             Collapsible Opera Hat made in France by M. Gibirs, 1823

              In England, Mr. Macintosh patented the first waterproofing process for fabric, 1823.

              Samuel Willeston invented a machine for making cloth covered buttons, 1827.

              Friction matches first marketed as Lucifers.

              First Harmonica produced, 1829.  

1830's:   John Howe invented a machine for making solid headed pins, 1831.

              The old fashioned straight razor started to have a reversed curve cutting surface as it was noted that those that were 'hollow ground' held a sharper stropping edge. They were all hand forged, individually tempered and hand ground and formed.              

               New York man applied for a patent for attaching india rubber soles to shoes and boots, 1832.

              Shoes with rubber gores were commercially available and known in the US as a Boston or Congress Gaiter boot, 1836.

              Experiments with Aniline Dyes (dyes based on benzine oil which is extracted from coal tar combined with acids to achieve colors) were begun. The earliest colors were not stabilized until the 1850's and then completely changed the look of fashion.

              McGuffy comes out with his Readers in 1836

                 Poinsettias were introduced into the U.S. by Joel R. Poinsetta of South Carolina.

1840's:    Gothic Revival began in England and there was an upsurge in "handwork" being used in the home and on clothing - Irish Crochet, Berlin work etc.

                First gummed envelopes developed in England, 1844. (Pencils, with leads had been around since the late 16th century, by the way, but a process for manufacture was patented in 1850. They were unpainted cedar until 1893. The eraser appeared in 1858 but was not common for some time.) Blotting Paper was developed at this (1840's) time beginning to phase out drying with pounce (powdered chalk or biotite). The first postcard was not sent until 1869 and is credited to Austria.     

                Goodyear received 1st patent for manufacture of rubber shoes, fishing boots and outer soles. Vulcanizing process discovered in 1843.

                Men's coats with shawl collars and no waist seams were beginning to be worn. Pants still tended to be drop front rather than fly front and in the US, many recent immigrants brought their traditional ethnic clothing along with them and tended to continue their use.

                Parasols of all colors and patterns are being used. The ribs are made of whalebone or bamboo. For walking, a large size and plain fabric is preferred.

                Amanda Bloomer and Elizabeth Cody Stanton began to wear "rational" clothing (loose ankle-gathered pants under a knee length skirt).

               Charles Burton is credited with producing the 1st baby carriage in New York City in 1848. People objected to them cluttering up the sidewalks so he moved to England and became well known after selling it as a 'perambulator' to Queen Victoria.

                W. Hunt patented the safety pin on April 10, 1849. It did not have the 'guard' it now has and the public was slow to adopt it. He sold his patent for $200.

                The first mechanical washing machine AND the 1st zinc washboards were introduced in 1848. Zinc washboards, replacing rocks, wooden stompers and longer handwork, was quickly adopted but the washing machine did not become really popular till Sears stocked it in the late 1890s. First wringer cane along in 1853

                Gutta-Percha from Malaya was being processed into buttons, medical splints and billiard balls from 1843 on (celluloid didn't come in for the billiard balls till 30 years later). Shellac was developed by a British immigrant to Mass. in the 1840s in a form that was molded into buttons, checkers, picture frames and combs.

                Telegraph invented in 1844. First message sent cross-country in 1861 and the transatlantic cable made Europe available in 1866. 

1850's:     Amanda Bloomer goes to England to popularize her clothing - most every one is appalled with the notable exception of Queen Victoria who finds these modern cycling ladies quite sensible. The press and most everyone in a position of power makes life truly hell on wheels for the ladies following the fashion, 1851.

                Hairpin invented.

                    Men's clothing saw the introduction of raglan sleeves; Box Coats with notched lapels, no waist seam and braid trim; laced shoes (late 50's, early 60's) as well as  boots and elastic gored shoe boots and tall silk hats and derbys or bowlers. The bowlers were introduced by Wm Bowler in England and was called a melon hat in France and a

               Derby in the US.  These new styles that began in England and thence to Paris were generally considered for travel, morning or casual wear.

               The pants tended to be tubular and long, gloves light colored. Detachable collars and cuffs for shirts were used and a dress collar touched the cheek. Cravats became smaller.

                    Monocles and pince-nez were popular eyewear for both man and women.

                Mackintosh presented improved rubber cloth for waterproof garments at the 1851 Great Exhibition.

               Aniline Dyes were finally feasible thanks to W. H. Parks. First was Mauve in 1856 followed in 1858 by magentas, fuchsia, purple blues and green. Then followed Coral, Electric Blue, violets, bright pink, 'glaring' greens, bright yellow and every kind of red as well as dirty grays and browns. Traditionalists were furious and the colors became high fashion. An aniline black that was especially suited to cotton was used in the manufacture of calico 1860-1863.

               Worth came to Paris and started what is generally considered the 1st 'modern' couture house. He began to be the designer for Empress Eugenie in 1858.

                Hoops, which were developed to "free" women from layers and layers of petticoats, began as petticoats stiffened with horsehair (crin) in the mid 1850's. They were soon replaced by cages of steel held in place with tapes. The hoops of the 50's were HUGE and gave the dress a 'half-circle' look. There is a news report of a shop keeper stating that he would prefer gentlemen to bring in their dogs and let them run loose rather than shop with their wives - there was less damage. There is also a considerable collection of articles of a somewhat satirical nature discussing the volume of materials that could be put within the hoop arrangement when shoplifting. By the late 1850's the shape began to be more like a cone with the fullness towards the hem.    

                    Mitts began to lose to gloves as a fashion item and steel beading - especially on purses - became very popular and remained so through the 1860's. Muffs are also popular, being firmly padded and generally 9" long with a 20" circumference. The lining is drawn up at the ends with a ribbon tied in a bow. They are often fur, velvet or satin - the fabrics often trimmed with fur.

                Parasols with U-shaped steel ribs are patented, 1852. They are more expensive. Handles are wood attached to a metal rod.

                  First hot air furnaces were being installed in homes in 1855 even though they was patented in 1835.

                  Kerosene (coal oil - generally referred to as skunk oil due to the odor) was discovered in 1859. Before that, early lamps like the "Newberryport Betty" had used grease, then camphor oil (more light), and sperm oil. In 1850 it was found that lamps filled with 4 parts castor oil mixed with one part turpentine was giving equal or better light than the whale sperm oil.  The first carriage (candle) lamp wasn't patented until 1865 and the flat wick kerosene lanterns in the home and outdoors were the latest thing in the first half of the 1860s.

1860's:      In 1861, Prince Albert died. This changed fashion and established very specific mourning requirements that were followed for years after. It even affected jewelry, leading to a vogue for pieces of the departed's hair to be woven or braided into designs or pasted to make pictures. Carved jet jewelry was also a fashion item. Jewelry, in general, was effected by mechanization and you begin to find lots of hearts and flowers picked out in stones or enamel. Bracelets were very fashionable and jewelry styles changed almost yearly. Italian craftsmen popularized designs based on ancient Greek and Roman jewels and there was a renaissance on ancient Celtic design out of Dublin.

                     Hoops remained cone shaped through the mid-60's. The fullness of the dress began to move to the back and by 1865 was almost the precursor of the bustle (something else to blame on Worth....)  As women began to wear their hair in a bun set low on the back of the head, hats began changing to pillboxes and pork-pies and other styles that sat higher on the head and could even be worn tipped forward. The hats were trimmed with bunches of silk flowers and/or feathers and ribbons.Parasols were small with a shorter, thicker handle and, usually, fringe or lace edge trim - the top was usually silk with white or black lace over it. Actual umbrellas, much larger, were available. Lace fans were very fashionable.

                    By the mid-60's ladies ankle boots were sporting up to 2" heels (to the disgust of many). The lacing, since the advent of the Balmoral in 1853, had moved from the inside to the center top.

                Mr. Poole of Saville Row, London, began to dominate the men's world of fashion and kept on doing so into the next century.

                Men continued to wear skirted frock coats and the colors tended to be blue, black, brown or medium gray. They were worn with patterned (mainly plaid) or black or tan pants cut much like those of the 50's but generally with fly fronts. The vests, still shawl collared, stopped being embroidered and were often checked or plaid. By the latter 60's (1868) men began wearing pants and jackets to match (also vests) and they were often referred to as "ditto" suits. Initially they were for travel.

                    By 1863, a knitting machine had been developed that would shape the garment as it knitted - the advent of knitted long johns.

                    Yankee soldiers stationed in Durham, N.C. developed a liking for a bright yellow tobacco being sold as Green's Best Flavored Eureka Spanish - Smoking Tobacco. After the war and their return home, they ordered it by mail from the maker, Wm T. Blackwell. He delivered it in a small cotton bag that fit into the pocket with a label that had a new name, Bull Durham, as the original was too long for the label. Consequently, the long held tradition of bulk packaging on the producer to vendor level began to change - in 1865.

                By 1865, steam powered machines were developed to make buttonholes, sew on buttons and do the pressing. Prior to this it was hand work.

                And, as most cotton came from the South, there was an upsurge in the use of wool, silk and linen for clothing.