February 18, 2013

The vintage magazine motherload!

This afternoon I finally had the time to sort the latest addition to my vintage (pattern)magazine collection: two boxes full of magazines I bought last week.

Advertized as being 'mostly Gracieuse magazines' from '1920 and later', I had to buy them because the seller also told how there were 'more than 100' and most of those 'with pattern sheet'.... 
I come across old Gracieuses fairly regularly. The magazine was published from about 1870 and merged with the Dutch publication of Record in the late 1930's so some have survived here and there (for some reason, 1880's ones seem to turn up most often). Mostly those are either bound years or single issues. The first are pretty but very expensive the latter are cheap but often in a bad state. And both usually lack the original pattern supplements. 

When unpacking the boxes I found what has to be someone's life-in-sewing. Gracieuse magazines from 1920 to 1935 (24 issues were published each year but only a couple of years are complete, there's only one magazine from 1926 and 1924 and 1935 are missing entirely). As to be expected, not all the magazines are in good shape, a lot of covers have come off and are in some case missing altogether. However, the vast majority of these have their pattern supplements (except the 1935 ones. They changed the system that year: instead of including a pattern supplement and making customers pay for the other patterns, they offered all the patterns on order, for free). These alone would be well worth what I payed for the lot.

But it didn't end there: there was also a pile of 30's and 40's 'La Femme Elegante' magazines. A German/French cooperation which came in a Dutch translation as well. With pattern sheets. 

And 'Het Nieuwe Modeblad' (=the new fashion magazine), later called 'Bella'. Two 1920 issues without patterns, a 1930's one and several from the 1940's with. 

And a pile of 'Regina' magazines, Dutch 1950's publications from which one could order the patterns.

And German 'Beyer's mode' magazines. About ten of them, the earliest from 1938, the latest from 1957.

And assorted other magazines, most of these German and from the 1950's, and most of them with patterns. 

Oh, and then there were these: little tracing paper envelopes containing other bits of tracing paper... Unprinted patterns! Dutch ones called 'Pereboom patterns'. I had no idea there had ever been a Dutch company publishing sewing patterns in this way!

And there were also some unprinted patterns in a different colour, bearing the label 'supplement to La Femme Elegante'. Even though I think all of those magazines I found in the pile came with pattern sheets.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find information about sizing on either kind of unprinted pattern yet.

All in all, the patterns from these boxes span most of the 20th century. The oldest are from 1920, the most recent from 1962. 
Because there are so many of them, and because there are hardly any children's specials, and all the garments selected (I didn't study each magazine yet but a couple had designs marked in pencil and some pattern sheets show the marks of a tracing wheel) are for ladies, I am inclined to think the lady owning these may have been a professional dressmaker. That would also explain her apperent preference for publications which came with patterns included: most patterns-to-order were only avaible for a month or so, pretty inconvenient if your customers are going to pick the design they want from your magazine stash. 
Either that or she was a well-to-do seamstress without children who kept a very keen interest in fashion well into her 60's...

P.S. I know all these magazines were owned by the same person. The seller told me they came from a house he cleared out 40 years ago and had belonged to an old lady who was really good at sewing.


  1. What a find! They are fantastic. If the sheer quantity is overwhelming to you and you decide to sell some, please announce here. I would be interested in a couple of these.

  2. Oh, my goodness - a veritable Aladdin's cave!! Yes, definitely, if you decide to sell some or scan some of the patterns and offer those, there would be those of us who would definitely be interested.

  3. that is an impressive haul! have fun with it.

  4. You found a real treasure! I'm so envious!

  5. Oh myM what a FABULOUS find! I've been recently searching for vintage magazines and just love them! My new favourite ones are Marie Claire from 1940!

  6. Véronique in MontréalFebruary 23, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    I can't help thinking of the thread (pardon the pun) linking both of you through the years. Wonderful find. I certainly look forward to your comments on the fit of patterns from that time.

  7. What an amazing stash of patterns. The original owner must have really been a dedicated dressmaker to have patterns from such a long time span. Have fun!

  8. That's an amazing find! Can't wait to hear/see more about some of what's stashed in there. :D