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New Fashion Images

clothing imageThe Internet can be an amazing place. While it does sometimes seem like it brings out the worst in people, it can, at times, lead to wonderful things. I was recently contacted by someone with an extensive collection of vintage prints, books and other public domain materials. She had decided that she wanted to share many of these copyright free images with the world and was looking for an avenue to do so. Luckily for me, she thought my sites would be the perfect place for her images.

Among the first group of vintage images she has sent were 5 wonderful Civil War era fashion prints from the lady’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book. These aren’t the first images from Godey’s on Reusable Art but I truly believe the quality of the scans are among the best on the site so far. That’s why I’ve chosen the entire group as this week’s Picture of the Week.

Godey’s Lady’s Book, also known as Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book was published in Philadelphia by Louis A. Godey. It had a 68 year run from 1830 to 1898. By 1860, it had a circulation of 150,000 and considered itself the “queen of monthlies.” For 40 years, Sarah Josepha Hale was the editor of the magazine. You might recognize her name – she wrote the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb.

It was an expensive magazine. The monthly cost $3 for a yearly subscription. A yearly subscription to the bi-monthly The Saturday Evening Post was $2.

Godey’s featured articles, poetry and engravings. He commissioned many prominent writers and artists. Godey took the wildly unpopular step of copyrighting each issue in 1845, the first time a magazine or newspaper actively moved to prevent other periodicals from reprinting their materials. Editor’s at the weekly magazine Baltimore Saturday Visitor called it selfish and a move that Godey would rue bitterly. Godey may have had the last laugh with that – two years later the Visitor was absorbed by the abolitionist publication National Era and faded into history.

While Godey’s became quite influential in matters of taste and women’s causes, like employment, it was strictly a-political. During the Civil War, Godey refused to even acknowledge the conflict. He fired the assistant editor Sara Jane Lippincott (“Grace Greenwood”) when she publicly denounced slavery. He would later rehire her but the Wikipedia article on the magazine indicates it lost around one-third of its subscribers due to this policy. While her reinstatement probably lost some subscribers, particularly in the south; I would question that theory as it was a time of great upheaval and many people found themselves in reduced circumstances and perhaps were no longer able to afford the magazine or were on the move too much to ensure delivery.

I know, enough with the trivia already. But, c’mon, you gotta admit it’s cool stuff.

Without further ado, here’s a peek at the Godey’s fashion plates from 1860 that were added to the Civil War Era fashions section of Reusable Art.

The Promenade Taking an Airing
Gossip Fashions for May 1860
And, my personal favorite and perhaps the most rare of the bunch…

1860 Bridal Apparel

Larger-sized versions of all five Civil War era fashion plates are available on Reusable Art along with a selection of other clothing and apparel images from the 1800s and earlier.

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