Reblogged: John B. MacLean, founder of Chatelaine magazine

John Bayne Maclean (1862 – 1950), was born in Crief, Ontario; his younger brother Hugh was born four years later. John established the Grocer Publishing Company in 1888 and two years later, Hugh joined as a partner. However, the two had problems getting along, possibly because they both courted the same woman. Hugh was successful, but his young wife died in 1897 and in 1899 Hugh sold his shares to John, moved to Winnipeg, and the two brothers never spoke to each other again. Hugh returned to Toronto in 1908 and established Hugh C. MacLean Publications, which printed a variety of magazines, most notably Canadian Magazine – a magazine containing an assortment of literature, commentary, and general interest stories. Hugh C. MacLean Publications eventually became a part of Southam Publishing, which became Canwest.

John Maclean went on to publish a number of trade magazines, including Dry Goods Review, which was the voice of Canada’s clothing manufacturers.  In 1927 he founded Mayfair, a society magazine with fashion reports on what Canada’s elites were wearing to important functions and in elegant destinations. Chatelaine followed in 1928 – a woman’s magazine with fashion, fiction, beauty tips, child-rearing, and other female-related topics. Chatelaine was created in direct competition to Canadian Home Journal, which was the Canadian version of Ladies’ Home Journal and had been in print since 1905.

In 1932, Chatelaine’s circulation was 127,873 while Canadian Home Journal’s surpassed with a circulation of 153,393. Chatelaine never topped Canadian Home Journal’s circulation until John MacLean bought out Canadian Home Journal in 1958 and ceased its publication.

With the domination of American magazines like Good Housekeeping and Family CircleChatelaine became the last remaining Canadian women’s magazine by the 1960s. It survived by responding to Canadian women’s needs and topics, as well as speaking to the growing women’s movement with articles about equal pay, the pill, and abortion (topics generally avoided in American women’s magazines at the time.) Although, since the 1990s, Chatelaine has become less political and more focussed on fashion.

John Bayne Maclean, looked like a Lord and acted like one. He rode around in a Rolls-Royce, owned a huge house in Toronto, as well as homes in England and Palm Beach. His wife was the niece of Countess Edla of Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha. Their only son died in 1919 and John offered his publishing firm to Hugh’s son Andrew, but Andrew stayed with his father’s firm. John MacLean’s publishing firm was instead left to Horace Hunter, who renamed the business MacLean-Hunter – the company that is now known as Rogers Communications.

Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Vicky Davis (1925 – 2006)

Victoria “Vicky” Davis began making ties for her husband in 1970, and in 1974 she and her husband relocated to New York from Michigan to grow her neckwear business. In 1976 Davis won a Coty award for her humorous print wide tie designs. She championed the return of skinny and bow ties in the late 1970s and her son, who trained at Parsons before joining the business in 1980, is credited with popularizing red bow ties and cummerbunds worn with classic black tuxedos. Vicky died September 15, 2006 at the age of 81.

Reblogged: The National Home Monthly Magazine, 1899 – 1960*

Henry H. Stovel was born in London, England in 1826. As a young man, he apprenticed as a tailor and at the age of 25 he came to Canada. He married Christina Crichton and moved to Mount Forest where he raised his family. 

Henry’s tailoring shop evolved into a dry goods store, which he called the London House. In 1867 he purchased a printing machine and began the newspaper The Mount Forest Confederate, named in honour of Canadian Confederation. The paper provided employment opportunities for his sons as they came of age. His eldest, Harry, acted as the paper’s first editor when he was still a teenager. 

Henry also invested heavily in real estate in and around Winnipeg in a speculative boom spurred on by the building of the transcontinental railway. When the boom busted, Henry was forced to sell his paper in 1884 . The following year he moved to Winnipeg where he still had some real estate.

In 1889, Henry Stovel and sons began a small printing office but Henry died of a stroke the following year. His sons kept the business going and as Winnipeg boomed in the 1890s, so did Stovel Co. Ltd. 

In 1899 they began printing a magazine called The Western Home Monthly – the only English language general interest magazine not printed in Toronto. The magazine contained fiction, editorials on Canadian problems, household advice from childcare to recipes, as well as some fashion reportage and illustrations of the latest dress patterns that could be ordered by mail.  

By 1924 Chester Stovel, the last living son, was running the publishing firm. With the effects of the Depression, Chester changed the name of the magazine from The Western Home Monthly the The National Home Monthly to appeal to subscribers across the country. The October 1932 issue debuted with the new name and almost immediately circulation increased by 60,000 subscribers. 

The Depression was a catalyst for change in the Canadian publishing industry. American companies were always reticent to advertise in Canadian publications as circulations were smaller than American magazines. However, when a tariff of 15 cents was placed on every issue of an American magazine that entered Canada, Canadian subscriptions of American magazines collectively plummeted from 750,000 in 1930 to just 150,000 subscribers in 1932. In turn, Canadian magazine circulations rose. With the additional devaluation of the Canadian dollar that by 1932 made it worth about 90 cents on the American dollar, advertising in Canadian publications became more appealing to American companies – especially those that also manufactured in Canada. 

Chester died in 1937, at which point his nephew Everett ran the magazine until his death in 1944. In 1947 E.P. Taylor and Bud McDougald, purchased Stovel Co. Ltd. and continued to operate The National Home Monthly until 1960. They then folded the magazine and rolled the assets into their Argus Corporation holding company. 

Canadian Fashion Connection – Louis Schrier

We received a suit into the collection recently that had the name Louis Schrier on the label. I haven’t run across that name before, but then I found a reference to him in James Fowler’s Canadian fashion blog – a small picture in an article about travelling clothes written by Canadian fashion journalist Iona Monahan in the Canadian society/fashion magazine Mayfair, from July 1957. The two pictures at the right are Schrier’s “double-pocket coat of soft, fleecy wool”:

Googling Louis Schrier however, didn’t provide much info about him. He was born 1892 or 1893, and founded his business in c. 1913. He was married to Mildred Shandurf and had four sons, Albert, Arnold, Haskel and Irving. His clothes were carried by Simpsons and other high-end retailers. He sat for a portrait by Karsh on Feb 8, 1947, and died May 29, 1948. This coat from 1957 is the most recent information I could find about him, so the company may have closed shortly afterwards.

Reblogged: Notes on men’s hat history and Lock & Co.*

1676: Robert Davis sets up a hatters shop on St. James Street for the fashionable upper classes

1747: James Lock apprentices as a hatter to Charles Davis, Robert Davis’ son

1759: James marries Chares Davis’ daughter Mary

1765: James moves the hat shop to 6 St. James

1784 – 1811: Hats are taxed 2 pounds 5 shillings each

1797: London Times reports the first silk plush top hats made in London, but not by Lock

1806: James son, also called James, inherits the business

1821: The business then passes to James’ sons, James and George

1849: Lock creates the Coke hat (aka bowler) for Nobleman Edward Coke’s gameskeepers

1852: The Conformateur, a head-measuring device is invented in France

1861: Men wear a broad black band on their hats as a sign of mourning the death of Prince Albert, but it loses its association with mourning and becomes a fashion statement

1871: Childless James III takes his nephew Charles Whitbourn into the business who forms a business partnership with manager James Benning. 

1906: The Panama hat worn by President Teddy Roosevelt while in Panama starts a fashion.

1940: bomb drops on 6 St. James and ends up in basement but does not explode.

1953: Lock makes fittings for the crown for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation

1956: Lock receives royal warrant from Duke of Edinburgh, and one from Prince Charles in 1993

Reblogged: Devlin’s, Ottawa (1891 – 1951)*

R.J. Devlin was born in 1842 in Londonderry, the son of an Anglican priest. After his father died when Devlin was 12, a guardian took the young Robert and his $30,000 dollar inheritance to London, Canada. When Robert was out one afternoon as a volunteer water-carrier for the London Fire Brigade, his ‘guardian’ absconded with the inheritance, leaving Devlin penniless. 

He soon found a job in a fur factory and later worked as a journalist for the London Free Press, writing a humorous column called Korn Kob Jr. He came to know Mark Twain during this time, and at some point, he also met the Hon. John Carling, later Sir John Carling, a prominent London businessman who represented the city in both the provincial and federal governments. Carling advised Devlin to start a furrier business in to Canada’s new capital of Ottawa which was growing rapidly. 

Devlin arrived in 1869 and set up a fur and hat store on Rideau Street. He later moved to No. 37 Sparks Street, across from the Russell House Hotel. Devlin’s store sign was a large tin hat upon which was written the store’s motto — “Hats that R Hats.”

Devlin’s three-story shop at 37 Sparks Street sold hats on the ground floor, a fur salon on the second floor, and the fur workshop on the third floor where Devlin’s manufactured all their fur products. The store itself was famous for its mirrors that were angled in the stairwell to allow a person on the ground floor to see the second-floor fur salon.

In 1891, Devlin built a four-storey building at 76 Sparks Street between Elgin and Metcalfe Streets. Before the growing company occupied the entire building, Devlin’s rented space to a number of tenants, including Ahearn & Soper, Robert Masson’s Shoe Company, and the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. By 1900, the store expanded its merchandise to include women’s and men’s clothing.

R.J. Devlin & Co. advertising was prepared by Devlin himself and often took jibes at Ottawa politicians and residents. He frequently complained about the state of Ottawa’s roads, especially Sparks Street. In one of his ads, he quipped that “fishing was recorded as good on a ravine called Sparks St — but if any of my patrons will come to the opposite bank and shout, I well send over a boat and ferry them across.” Another read “my business is located behind a rut on what is known as Sparks Street — not the small rut over on Elgin Street but the large one near the middle of the block [i.e. in front of Devlin’s store].” Sparks Street was finally paved in 1895. Devlin didn’t spare himself either. For one sale he advertised: “There is a surplus of furs which I should not have and a chronic deficit in my bank account which the manager says he won’t have — so — betwixt the Devil and the Deep Sea, etc.” Another read, “For sale — Grey goat coats $6 — they are grey and they are goat and they are six dollars, which is all I can truthfully say about them.” Another went, “Waterproof coats $5 — they are not even good coats, unless they possess some hidden virtue of which the undersigned is unaware.”

Robert Devlin’s greatest advertising coup occurred on November 11, 1889. His advertisement predicted that winter would start in Ottawa on November 27 with a major blizzard accompanied by howling winds. To prepared for the coming storm, men and women should purchase fur coats and warm sleigh robes from his store before it was too late. True to his prediction, the 27th began grey and dull with a stiff wind. The temperature was in the upper thirties, Fahrenheit. Through the morning, the temperature dropped. The occasional snow flurry changed into a heavy and persistent snowfall. By evening, the snow was so deep that the street railway stopped working. The first sleighs of the season appeared on city streets. The snow continued for close to twenty-four hours, with more than a foot on the ground, just like Devlin had predicted. Devlin was crowned by the public as Ottawa’s “prize weather prophet.”

Devlin’s advertisements were collected by his sons and given to the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa. The three leather-bound volumes are currently stored in the City of Ottawa Archives.

In 1901, an association of Canadian women presented the future Queen Mary with a mink and ermine wrap made in the Devlin workshop. In 1918 Robert J. Devlin died at the age of 78. The store passed to his sons, W.F.C. (‘Ted’) Devlin and Brian Devlin. In April 1951, the brothers sold the landmark store to Montreal’s Henry Morgan & Company. Morgan’s ran the store under the Devlin name for the first six months before changing the name to the Henry Morgan Company. In 1960, Morgan’s was purchased by the Hudson’s Bay Company for $15.4 million. On March 23, 1973, the Hudson’s Bay Company closed the Sparks Street store closed for good.

Devlin’s, Ottawa, c. eearly 1890s

Reblogged: De Pinna clothing store, 1885 – 1969*

Alfred and Jeanette De Pinna, and their son Leo  arrived in New York from England In about 1880.  When Jeanette could not find an English-style sailor suit for Leo, she began a company to manufacture the suits. An advertisement in The New York Times in 1891  offered ‘the most select styles’ for boys, including sailor suits and dress suits for dancing school.

  • The company was founded by and as A. De Pinna Company, and was first located at 650 Fifth Avenue in 1885.
  • Leo S. De Pinna, ran the company starting in 1912 at 375 Park Ave. until the new store was built in 1928, designed by Starrett & Van Vleck. 
  • In 1938, Leo S. De Pinna’s daughter, Miss Constance Vivian De Pinna married Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge of Gledfield, Ardgay Rossshire, Scotland. Leo retired the following year.
  • In 1950, the company was purchased by the Washington, D.C. department store Julius Garfinckel Co., Inc. De Pinna was also a sister company to Brooks Brothers
  • In 1957, the company’s president, John T. Fielder, announced a store in Westchester County on White Plains Road.
  • In in 1966, the Minskoff real estate family purchased the De Pinna Building.
  • The A. DePinna Company announced the closing of its three stores in April of 1969; its store at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street was, in the 1970s, torn down for a skyscraper.
De Pinna, 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, buit 1928

Reblogged: Coral*

Red corals grow on rocky seabottoms with low sedimentation, typically in dark environments, either in the depths or in dark caverns or crevices. The species first harvested is found mainly in the Mediterranean Sea.

A major trade in coral existed between the Mediterranean world and India 2,000 years ago. The Romans believed coral could protect children from harm. It was considered a guardian, protecting children from illnesses. In Italy, until early 20th century, coral was worn to ward off the evil eye, and by women as a cure for sterility.

Before 1492 the cutting, piercing and polishing of red coral in Trapani, Sicily was done by Jewish artisans. The Medicis of Florence granted a monopoly of the trade in coral to the Jews of the free city of Livorno in northwestern Italy. The Jewish-made coral items were exported to Eastern Europe and India and even used to make ritual objects for Christian markets.

Decoration with gilt thread and coral beads was produced in southern Italy and Sicily in the city of Trapani from the 17th century on: “Coral was so much used in Sicilian embroideries, and so little elsewhere, that one gives the name of “Sicilian” to all such work; but occasionally we find coral embroideries in Spain and elsewhere.” – Needlework as Art, Lady M. Alford, 1886

In Ukraine, coral was used on women’s necklaces (namysto) to symbolize youth and health. The coral was both protective and informative, as people could tell how wealthy a family was since six strings of coral beads could cost as much as a pair of oxen.

When the Spanish remarked that the Indians of the new world wore red coral. However, it was later determined that these decorations came from spondylus (spiny oyster) shells. An account by Father Jacopo Sedelmayer in 1746 confirms this. He wrote of the true nature of the “coral” traded by the Yuma people of the Texas-Mexican border area, who adorned themselves “with necklaces of seashells woven together with other coloured shells looking like coral that they fashion and pierce” Actual coral, used as beads inserted into traditional ornaments with turquoise and seashells, came from rosaries given to the Indians in the Spanish period.