11 June 2012

A Lady of Fashion: Antiquing Adventure Part One


We spent this past weekend in Cape Cod and I discovered a treasure trove of antique shops on every other corner. I only made it to two stores but found oodles to ooh and aah over and, of course, came home with some treasures.


My first stop was The Antiques Center of Cape Cod, on Route 6A in Dennis Mass. Tucked at the bottom of a shelf (which I almost missed) was a copy of the 1987 Thames & Hudson book A Lady of Fashion: Barbara Johnson's Album of Styles and Fabrics.

I'm probably the last to discover this book but what a fabulous resource! Born in 1738, Miss Johnson was a fashionista who recorded the changing styles of the 18th century. The inside jacket reads, "A single lady from a well-to-do family...she compiled samples of fabrics--often richly colored--attached to pieces of paper on which she described the garments that were made for her." For example...





A callicoe gown, August 1787


An English Chintz, June 1781

 Purple and white linen gown, November 1763
I'm in love with these pretty florals.

Miss Johnson also saved cool fashion plates for us such as...


 Dress of the Year 1757 (left) and 1758 (right).

My copy was "very cheap for cash"...a mere $14 (with a $1 discount). A Google search showed that several online sources have copies for +/- $200. The V&A has the original book in their collections and some fabulous pages can be viewed online. V&A Accession Number T.219-1973 

The only downside to my copy is that it smells ├╝ber musty. (I have to sit outside to read it.) Can anyone share tips / success stories to de-musting old books...stick it in the freezer? Pack it in a container with kitty litter? Fill the pages with fabric softener sheets?



14 comments:

  1. What a great book to find for such a price! I would have bought it as well, despite the musty smell. How to get rid of it? Interesting question. I googled it and found a few solutions here: http://voices.yahoo.com/how-rid-musty-smell-books-1334719.html. Putting it out in the sun to dry it was the first thing I thought of as well. I don't know if these methods work, but they sound very plausible! I can attest to freshly ground coffee getting rid of nasty smells though, we used it on the airplane ( I used to be a flight attendant) when someone had vomited on the carpet (sorry for this unpleasant association!).

    I look forward to finding out whether you can get rid of the smell and how you've done it.

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    1. Thanks! I'm going to start with "sun bathing" to see if that helps.

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  2. I have seen this book before and loved it. I wonder if it is still in print? It so cool to see what fabrics a lady had access to and all the details around price, etc. Thanks for sharing. Glad you had a nice trip. Cape Cod is wonderful!

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    1. Unfortunately it's out of print and it's not on Google books...but there are selections on the V&A's site. :)

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  3. Wiping off books with a clean towel, and the interior pages, too, sometimes helps if the book has mildew on it. I've had to do that. If there's a gap in the spine that appears when you open the book, remember to wipe down in there, since mildew can lurk there.

    Airing in very dry air, in a breeze and in indirect light, for some days, might help too. Being in an enclosed space for a long time can make a book smell something awful.

    Perhaps after that, wrapping it with lavender and eucalyptus might help add a better scent, too.

    Just thoughts!

    Very best,

    Natalie

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    1. These are great tips, thanks Natalie!

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  4. You might try putting it in a plastic bag with mothballs for a week or two. I know that works to get rid of cigarette smell, maybe it will work on mustiness too!

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    1. Thanks Melissa, I hadn't read about that idea before!

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  5. Wow, you're very lucky to get that book! It's so beautiful!
    It's too bad it smells bad, I'm sorry I don't have any tips for that. :-/
    -Julia

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    1. Yes it is a cool book...I look forward to sharing more tips from it. I think it will be a helpful fabric shopping companion. : )

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  6. Congratulations!! What a great deal. I just bought that book myself and wooo it was expensive. Isn't it the most amazing book, though? I am absolutely in love with it. All the little fabric scraps! Joy.

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    1. Thanks it is a great book and worth the investment!

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  7. Would putting an opened box of baking soda near it help. Baking soda is reknown for absorbing odors? Also checking with an archivist could yield huge tips.
    Love the idea of this book. Think I'd like to make my own as a record of my own sewing journey! Also I'm going to be on the lookout for this! What a find!

    Laurie

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    1. I hadn't thought to ask the archivist at my work but I will, thanks for the suggestions!

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Your feedback is appreciated. :)