Friday, December 24, 2010

THE CULINARY HISTORY DETECTIVE: Triscuits, Cookies and the UNEEDA Biscuit Boy

In the world of advertising, the Uneeda " Biscuit Boy" became the symbol for the very first national advertising campaign EVER for ANY product. The single most famous advertising trademark in the world at the beginning of the century, he was the icon for the National Biscuit Company since 1901.
 
We recently listed the scruffy yet sweet souvenir letter opener at right on ETSY and decided to do a little research.

We go to the beginning…………

It can be said that NBC (as the National Biscuit Company was then called)began as early as 1792 with the opening of Pearson & Sons Bakery, specializing in what they called “pilot bread”,  a sturdy, durable biscuit that sailors took with them on long voyages.

In 1801, a company called “Josiah Bent Bakery began selling what they called “crackers,” named for the crunchy sound this new discovery made when someone bit into them.

By the turn-of-the-century, bakers sold unbranded crackers packed loosely in large barrels and sent them to grocery stores.  A mother would often send her child to the grocers with a paper bag to fill up to consume later. Alas, nothing protected the goodies from moisture so they would often end up being stale or soggy.

In 1889, entrepreneur William Moore decided he could improve the efficiency of all the existing bakeries by uniting Pearson, Bent, and six others, merging them into one large company to be called the “New York Biscuit Company”.

In another part of the country in1890, a Chicago business man named Adolphus Green acquired forty Midwest bakeries in the Midwest to form the “American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company” and in 1898, Green and Moore decided to combine their two companies.

This  mega-merger ultimately combined 114 bakeries across the United States.  Lawyer Adolphus Green was named president of this new company, and under his direction the company grew to become the biggest manufacturer of cookies in the United States.  

Right at the outset Green decided the National Biscuit Company needed a new idea to grab the public’s attention. When his employees created the Uneeda biscuit,  new flakier and lighter cracker than any of their competitors’ versions, Green wanted to find a way to seal the new product in order to extend its freshness to be free of moisture.

In 1898 Green was the first to use the newly-created, very first, pre-packaged biscuit invention called the In-Er Seal” -  a combination of inter-folded layers of wax paper and cardboard to seal in the freshness of the product. The innovation literally revolutionized the cracker and biscuit business!

The slogan was “ Lest you forget, we say it yet, Uneeda Biscuit”.

Green decided that new packaging wasn’t quite enough - he wanted to go even further! He had the foresight to become of the first companies of the time to think of creating an actual advertising campaign and hired Philadelphia advertising agency N.W. Ayer and Son to promote the product. 

The agency created an illustration of a wholesome little boy holding a box of Uneeda Biscuits, wearing a rain slicker, rain hat and rain boots to demonstrate the moisture-proof nature of the package. The UNEEDA Boy thus became one of the first early American trademarks .

At the beginning of the 20th century the company focused on the expansion of its line of cookies and in 1902, created the famous Barnum's Animal Crackers. Ten years later Lorna Doones and Oreos were created, the latter quickly becoming the world’s best-selling cookie. 

When Green passed away in 1917, the new president, Roy E. Tomilson had to deal with World War I’s rationing of products using sugar and wheat flour. This meant that cookies weren’t as sweet as they used to be and the crackers now had to be made with corn meal and rye. Advertisements of the time depicted Uncle Sam holding the NBC products with the patriotic caption of “made as he says.” 

In the 1920s, NBC expanding its product line to include breakfast cereal, ice cream cones, and pretzels. The Great Depression slowed the company down but they managed to introduce new dog biscuits and Ritz Crackers as the new prestige item.

the original oil painting
In 1941, the word Nabisco officially replaced the letters NBC, undoubtedly to reduce confusion with the recently established National Broadcasting Company, popularly also referred to as NBC. 

During World War II,  Nabisco again had to deal with the rationing of flour, sugar, butter, and oil and had to alter and substitute ingredients. Interestingly, they were also commissioned to develop an emergency field ration (K-Rations) for American troops and even supplied the military’s canine corps with dog biscuits.

Sadly, 100 years later in 2009 Nabisco discontinued the Uneeda biscuit because they were losing profits.

 I KNOW what you are thinking......where did the image of the little boy COME from?

At left,  this small original oil painting on board by a commercial artist named  Fredric Stanley sold for $ 8,812.50 in 2007. He was a cover artist for the Saturday Evening Post and is said to have been a mentor of Norman Rockwell. It was believed to have been the ONLY painting ever commissioned for the original ad campaign.

If you look closely at the painting,  the biscuit box is actually a removable die-cut mock-up of the actual box. This allowed the advertising department to insert any of the company’s products in the Uneeda Boy’s arms for future ads.

What is not well-known is that the image of the "Uneeda Boy" was actually based on a real person named Gordon Stille, who was the five-year old nephew of an advertising agency executive working on the campaign at the time.  

 In 1900, he was photographed wearing the raincoat, hat and boots holding the biscuits,  for which he received $100, a considerable amount at the time! That photograph was then used to create the famous Uneeda boy symbol.

When came time to re-extend the expired copywrite in 1948, the law stated that the company needed the consent of a living person if the image of a still living person were to be registered as a trademark. 

By now, Mr. Stille was a grown man in poor health. He felt that the company had cheated him and he had not been adequately compensated for the use of his imagine so long ago. He refused to sign a consent form and a legal battle ensued. Alas, Mt. Stille passed away without the issue ever being resolved.

But, WAIT!!!! Let us not forget about the history of another of  The National Biscuit Company’s popular acquisitions, TRISCUITS!

In the early 1890’s, Denver native Henry D. Perky noticed a diner eating a bowl of boiled whole wheat broken up with a spoon, which the diner explained  gave him strength and was easy to digest. Perky felt most people wouldn’t want to go to the trouble of breaking up the wheat themselves and discovered that by both shredding the cooked wheat and toasting it, the flavor and texture became more palatable.

Perky took this idea to his machinist friend Willliam Ford in Watertown, NY., who developed a machine process that drew the cooked wheat into shreds, formed the shreds into loaves and baked them in coal ovens.

Perky’s original intention was to sell the machine rather than the biscuits, and he returned to Denver selling  biscuits from horse-drawn wagons to popularize the concept, forming “The Cereal Machine Company”.

Alas, the biscuits became more popular than the machines, so Perky moved back East to open his first bakeries in Boston and Wooster in 1895, retaining the original nameThe Cereal Machine Company” but also adding the name “The Shredded Wheat Company”.

 In 1898 Perky got a patent for  a “new and original design for wafers, a cracker-like biscuit.

In 1901, Perky was drawn to the idea of a new inexpensive form of power as well as the draw of the popular tourist attraction and he moved his company to Niagara Falls, NY. where the company became known as “The Natural Food Conservatory. and the new factory was actually called "The Palace of Light," , white-tiled and well-lit.

In 1901, he received two more patents for a “
cracker of filamentous or shredded wheat” featuring a waffle-like texture. He named the wafer TRISCUIT and production began in 1903 in Niagara Falls, NY. The packaging claimed “ Baked by Electricity”. For the next 21 years the wafer measured 4” x 2 ¼” and when the ovens were modernized and improved, the cracker became 2” square.

In 1908 the company became known once again as “
The Shredded Wheat Company” and more factories were built in 1911 in Niagara Falls, Ontario (The Canadian Shredded Wheat Company) and 1915  in California (The Pacific Coast Shredded Wheat Company)  and finally in 1926, a factory in England, outside London.

In December 1928, the company was sold to
The National Biscuit Company which in 1933 put its name on the packaging as “National Biscuit Shredded Wheat" instead of the original  “Home of Shredded Wheat” . In 1941 it changed to “Nabisco Shredded Wheat”

In 1954, that last original plant,  the "Palace of Light" was shut down.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------


At the close of 2010, the Uffner Vintage staff wants  to take the opportunity of wishing all our faithful readers a very happy , healthy and a very peaceful New Year!  ( Helen is Santa, of course!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

COINCIDENCES: The Tale of a Journey of a 1950's Pair of Earrings!

the "double-decker" earrings we sold to Laura
In the “believe it or not” category, picture this: 

We list a pair of amazing hand-painted 1950’s porcelain earrings for sale that has even has its original manufacturer’s sticker on the back. 
Immediately, we get an email from someone in California who is floating on a cloud because she collects these apparent rare examples of “Milvern Originals” earrings.

And WHY does she collect them? Because her mother was one of the original artists who painted them back in the 1950’s! ! What are the chances?

She wrote :
 “Hello!! I woke up this morning to no water because the pipes froze overnight. But these earrings instantly warmed ME up! My mother created this design when she worked for Milvern Originals of Beverly Hills back in the 1950s. They produced very few because Vern, the boss, said they were too labor intensive to be selling for $1. Yes, $1. Can you believe that?? I have collected over 300 pairs of Milvern earrings, but only 3 pairs of these "double-deckers". You don't know how happy I am to get them.

Interesting, we could find absolutely no research on this short-lived company on the web aside from a brief mention: “There is very little information available about this company and their pieces are very difficult to come by”.  

Happily,  the designer’s daughter Laura shared what little she learned after questioning her mother.

Apparently, the Milvern Originals jewelry company was founded by Mildred and Vern Schervem in 1954 in Beverly Hills.

Vern Schervem rented out part of his building to a manufacturer of plastic bubble bath bottles that were shaped like cartoon characters,. They occasionally show up in antique stores but though they also have the Milvern name on them, they were not connected to the jewelry business.

a pendant and earring set
The company made earrings, cufflinks and pins and rarely, a pendant. No two sets of earrings were ever alike, even if it was just an added decorative dot of gold.

Since hand-painting was costly, towards the end of the “Malvern Original” reign the company started using a repetitive feather gold edge in lieu of the costlier hand-painted patterns.

There were “single” piece earrings and “double-pieced” rarer earrings, with two porcelain pieces attached on top of each other (which was what we sold to Laura). In her vast collection, Laura only had 2 doubles, so she was delighted to buy ours to add to the others!
above and below, examples of the double earrings Laura had already in her collection - notice how those and the ones she bought from us are so similar!

The pieces were made by pouring the slip into molds.  Without exception, the molds were always slightly concave -  no matter what the shape, they were never flat. Sometimes the piece was turned over so the finished  jewelry piece was convex.  Pressurized air was used to get the pieces out of the molds. 
another earring and pendant set

Since they were still somewhat soft when they came out of their molds, Laura’s Mom claimed that they threw many pieces away because they didn’t always retain their shapes.

They were dried, and after a powdered color was sprinkled on the top they were fired.  The painters on staff then painted unique designs on each piece after they came out of the kiln.
the back of the earring

The most popular shape, by far, was round with the edges "pinched up" to resemble a square or triangle (like the pictured pair we sold).  There were squares, rectangles, quarter moons (these were rarer), painter's palettes, leaves, teardrops, dishes, diamonds (like the second part of ours), amongst others.

All the clips, pins, screwbacks, or cufflink attachments were then glued on, a little Milvern sticker was put on the back and the pieces were put on cards.

It was Laura’s Mom who took the idea of making cufflinks to Vern, but the boss answered that no man would wear such feminine cufflinks!

So…….her mom took a pair of earrings, painted beer mugs on them, took them to the bar next door where the co-workers congregated and asked if anyone thought people would buy them if they were cufflinks! Oh, yeah!

They turned out to be such a big hit that they put those into production, and  it turned out that business women were even greatly attracted to them!

Laura has about 25 sets of cufflinks in her collection, but they were not nearly as popular as the other pieces. 

Her Mom had kept only 3 pairs of her handiwork all those years ago and Laura initially thought these were the only ones that survived, but about 20 years ago they started surfacing every now and then in antique stores and online sites. Laura’s theory is that the women who bought them on the 50’s are now sadly passing away and their offspring are selling their possessions.

Should you come across any to sell, Laura would love to hear from you to add to her collection and honor her Mom's work! You can email her at pharmanimal@volcano.net.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

THE SET N' STAY PILLOW SLIP - Homage to Larry Matthews


A hair fashion revelation!!!!! 

Helen came across a dated 1968 "Set n" Stay" Pillow Slip (in its original packaging) to list on ETSY on our Vintagepickle site.

The packaging read "New from Larry Mathews", and was a special sleep pillow that would maintain your then intricate beehive hairdo and protect your hair "all night long" , claiming it was perspiration resistant, allowed your hair to breathe and unlike regular pillows that flattened your hair, you would wake up with every hair still in place! Wonder of wonders!!!

So, you may wonder...who was this Larry Matthews who created this marvel? Well, we've done the research!

Most of what else we found out about Larry Mathew’s life was from his August 5th, 2007   New York Times obituary, where his quirky quotes credit his sense of humor! The obit is excerpted below:

“Larry Mathews... earned a reputation as New York's most wide-awake hairdresser by opening …the city's first 24-hour beauty parlor to serve insomniacs, talk-show guests, showgirls and other working women. 

Mr. Mathews served the nocturnal need of those seeking teasing, frosting, cutting, waxing, eyebrow enhancement, nail coloring, blow-drying and more. Clients -- who he said included Jacqueline Susann, Eleanor Roosevelt and Marilyn Monroe -- were invited to play backgammon or sip a cocktail as their appearances became more pleasing.  

'I'm sort of like a surgeon' he said in an interview with The New York Times in 1976. 'Not looking good is like a cancer. There's a lot of pain in not being beautiful.' 

At his peak in the early 1970s, Mr. Mathews had expanded his after-hours cosmetology concept across the nation to 131 salons, from Miami to Las Vegas to Hollywood  (and) sold the chain in 1974.
 
His commitment to convenience was shown by regularly sending a limousine to pick up a woman's wig in the morning so his staff could set it and comb it, then deliver it in time for an evening engagement. 

By accident, when Mr. Mathews was trying to build a machine that would not burn women during waxing, he developed a cream for painless depilation. Called Hair Off, it became a staple in beauty parlors and later was sold for home use. 

Mr. Mathews could wax eloquent on the subject of body hair.

'Women shouldn't shave,' he said to The Times. 'You shave and you're growing a beard all over your body. You're making stubble for yourself.'

Hair Off, by contrast, left only baby fuzz, he promised. 

Mr. Mathews learned some photography in the Army and after his discharge set up shop as a studio photographer, specializing in publicity stills for aspiring starlets. Before he snapped the photographs, he liked to work on their eyes and mouths, which led him into theatrical makeup and cosmetics.

His clientele was showgirls at the Copacabana and the Latin Quarter, so a 24-hour beauty salon seemed a logical step. 


He opened his first in 1953 in the Great Northern Hotel on West 57th Street near Carnegie Hall, enabling him to cater to show-business people. He reasoned that a hotel was a nice location for all-night beauty parlors because there was someone protective in the lobby.

All his stylists were men who specialized in the exotic coiffures the Broadway-type customers requested. Free makeup consultations were available on the first visit if women wanted them.

Despite having many well-off customers, Mr. Mathews was provocatively populist when it came to the sacred cows of the beauty business.

'No haircut is worth $50,' he told The Times. ' Every month you have to have it cut again. It's ridiculous to spend $35 to have your legs waxed. It's even more ridiculous to spend $100 for an ounce of perfume.'

His solution to the perfume question was his line of copies of French fragrances (such as Chanel and Joy) developed in Switzerland (which he)  sold for $10 an ounce. (The perfume industry sued and lost.)

As for hair, he said in an interview with The Times in 1961 that wearing wigs could cut a woman's beauty bill by 40 percent. He said they remained set for as long as three months.

Asked who would buy them, he answered, ''About half the regulars at the Copacabana.''

 As an interesting aside, Gloria Steinem's bio talks about her going undercover to become a Playboy bunny for a reporting assignment. Even before studying the “Bunny Bible” she was told to report to  Larry Mathew’s New York salon  for a make-up class , where she was fitted for false eyelashes and paid $8.14 for the eyelashes and cake rouge (with her Bunny discount, of course!)

Monday, August 2, 2010

METAMORPHOSIS : The Making of a Book Cover - or Portrait of the Artist as a ...Young Photographer



You buy a book. It has an amazing illustrated or photographic cover with period detailing. Ever wonder where the artist’s inspiration for those costumes or accessories comes from? 

If you are clever,  you might sense that WE are that  “secret source”! (Yes!)

....But if you haven't a clue, here is a little interesting narrative explaining the “process” a book cover takes from start to finish.

In this blog, we highlight the work of artist Marc Yankus (marcyankus.com).

This particular project shown on the left was a book about a midwife in the mid-to-late 1800’s who yearned to become a doctor, not a very welcoming profession for women of that century.

In Marc’s words: “I hired a model, rented the dress and bag from Helen and photographed the model in my workspace.

Using a software program, I changed the color of the dress, added the building and added textures to give the piece a feeling of the time”

Picture #1
Marc initially came by to pick out some of our  vintage clothing showroom's 19th century clothes and accessories. He then began photographing his model: first from the back, then a side view, then eventually a version of the final 
cover that Marc envisioned. 
  
                   Picture #2                                      
                                                                                             Picture #3  



Once Marc zeroed in on the concept, he experimented with different  color palettes until he reached the one he would use for the book cover.

Et voila!!!!! A work of genius!

                            First coloration                                   Final coloration

We will soon highlight other book covers we have worked on, but as an added bonus, here is yet another cover Marc worked with us on...perhaps an obscure little book you may have heard of ?

 and the book......

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MAD MONEY For Mad Men (or Women)....the original of the phrase

We were listing this 1950’s “Mad Money Case” on Vintagepickle.etsy.com (our online sales page) when we started wondering what the origin of that term could be, in addition to speculating about the amount of items you could actually BUY with your mad money coins in the 1950’s! 

“Mad money” seems to be interchangeable with the phrase “pin money”, so Helen went to work researching.

Both phrases seemed somewhat sexist in origin, referring to the allowance that a husband gave his wife for stereotypical “feminine” expenses such as pins to secure their clothing.

The phrase “pin money” is said to have originated in the Middle Ages in England, when pins, handmade at the time, were scarce and quite expensive. Credited with popularizing French-made pins in the mid-1500’s was Henry VIII’s 5th wife Catherine Howard, who was eventually beheaded.

To prevent the upper class from hoarding these “luxury” items, England ultimately passed a law allowing pin makers to sell their wares only on specific days of the year. This allowed women of all classes to save up enough “pin money” to afford to buy perhaps at least one pin when these scarce items next came to market. 

When the Industrial Revolution introduced a plethora of available pins, the price dropped and “pin money” became then known as a wife’s pocket money regardless of its intended use, later to imply any type of incidental expenses.

The first documented printed use of the phrase “pin money” was credited in 1697 to British architect Sir John Vanbrugh (known for designing famous Blenheim Palace after a brief imprisonment at the Bastille when accused of being a spy!) 

“Mad money”, the American version of this British idiom seems to have been coined much later. 

 In a 1922 article on Bryn Mawr slang, Howard J. Savage defined ”mad money” as “money a girl carries in case she has a row with her escort and wishes to go home alone.'" Since it was almost unheard in those days  for a young lady to not to have a gentleman escort her home, perhaps the terms meant that she was mad, or angry at the young man for perhaps an indecent advance, and used the money to get herself home alone. 

In 1946, C.M. Woodard re-defined “mad money” to include “…Also money used by a girl or woman for small purchases.” 

Webster’s 3rd Dictionary (1961) was the first to record this term with both the meanings: “carfare carried by a girl on a date to provide a means of escaping her escort in the event of unwanted familiarities; broadly: a small sum carried by a woman for emergency use” and Random House Dictionary listed ‘mad money” as “a small sum of money carried by a woman on a date to enable her to reach home alone in case she and her escort quarrel and separate.” 

 Currently, the phrase seems to translate to “money spent foolishly or frivolously on the spur of the moment for something you don’t really need”…..intimating that the woman’s state of mind is “mad” as she frivolously spends her cache. Hmmm…

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

TAKE A POWDER - The Sad Tale of Louis XIV's Mistress


You know how sometimes you are heading in one direction, something strikes you and you end up going off on a tangent?

 Helen was recently about to list the item on the left  on our ETSY site (Vintagepickle) when the name struck her. She decided to do a bit or research, keep the Talc (for now!) and introduce her latest historical research foray into who "La Vallierre Vera Violet Talcum Powder" was most probably named after.

First, some interesting information culled from the metal container:

It is dated 1906 and its use reads: "A perfect antiseptic powder gives immediate relief for chafed skin, prickly heat, sunburn and sore feet...excellent to use after shaving"...which makes one think:  who this flowery art nouveau-patterned bottle meant for, men or women? (did women shave themselves at the turn of the century?)

Anyway, back to the point. It turns out that Louise de La Vallierre was a French noblewoman who was a mistress of Louis XIV.  It is interesting to note that the name for a jewelled pendant, lavalier (lavallière in French), actually descends from her name.

 Her story is a sad one.

Born in 1644  in Tours, France, her widowed mother married into nobility and  Louise de La Valliere  (above, at left) was introduced at Versailles at the tender age of 16.  Through a distant relative, Louise was appointed maid-of-honor to Henrietta of England (above, at right), a young woman her own age who had just married Louis XIV’s brother.

 Henrietta was said to be so fetching that when she joined the court at Fontainebleau in 1661 she became, shall we say, “friendly” with her brother-in-law the king,  resulting in scandal and rumors of romance.
 
To avoid increasing royal scandal, the King (Louis XIV) and Henrietta decided that the King’s passion should be redirected elsewhere as a “blind” to hide their affair, and Henrietta set before him 3 young ladies as possibilities, One of  those young women was 17-year old Louise, an innocent and quite religious young girl (Louise, still innocent, at right)

. At the time, the Abbé de Choise reported that the seventeen-year-old innocent " had an exquisite complexion, blond hair, blue eyes, a sweet smile . . . [and] an expression [at] once tender and modest."  She was purported to be so lovely that famous French writers such as LaFontaine and Racine wrote her praises. As an interesting aside, one of her legs was shorter than the other and Louise wore specially made heels.

Naively, Louise  promptly fell in love with the king (Louis the Voracious Womanizer at left). Though she knew it to be wrong, she became his mistress in 1661 at the tender age of 17. Over the proceeding years, she battled with her conscience and left the king twice to seek refuge in a convent, but the King dragged her back both times and she remained his mistress from 1661 to 1667.

When her liaison reached the angry ears of  Louis’s Queen (Maria Teresa of Spain)  (scorned Queen at right), Louise was removed from the palace and banished to a smaller building.  There, between 1962  and 1966 she became pregnant 4 times with 4 sons who all died in infancy or from a miscarriage. A daughter was born in 1666, who survived and was publicly recognized by the king , in turn making Louise a duchess in 1667.

 In October of the same year she bore another son (the king kept her busy!), but the King’s affections had by that time roamed elsewhere.  While both she and the King’s wife were pregnant at the same time, the king took himself another mistress, Françoise-Athénaïs, Marquise de Montespan, (the new favored mistress below) a trusted friend of both her and the Queen.  

Louise’s title as the King’s “official Mistress” remained, but she was forced to share the new mistress’s Tuillerie living quarters in Paris, this time serving as the Marquise’s blind decoy to prevent court gossip and any legal maneuvers of the Marquise’s husband, who wanted her back.

In 1674, she left the king for good and took the veil in a Carmelite convent under the name Sister Louise of the Misercord . The day she left, she threw herself at the feet of the Queen, begging forgiveness: "My crimes were public, my repentance must be public, too” . When Louise took her final vows a year later, the Queen, who used to come to the convent for spiritual rest,
personally presented her with the black veil.

Upon the death of her surviving son in 1683, Louise was still so obsessed with the sin of her affair with the king that she lamented: “I ought to weep for his birth far more than [for] his death”

Though she had such royal visitors such as  Queen Maria Teresa and the Duchess of Orleans, she spent the rest of her life in seclusion, engaging in charity work.  In 1690  she wrote  book entitled “ Reflections on the Mercy of God, by a Penitent Woman” .

She died alone in 1710 in Paris, and was immortalized in Alexander Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers” Volume 5”

Friday, April 30, 2010

A STAR IS BORN........


Just a quickie to let you in on a Broadway Debut! 

Gabriel Ebert, a recent Julliard graduate, is going to step into Eddie Redmayne's shoes in Broadway's "RED", when Eddie leaves for the weekend to attend his brother's wedding.

Red is the engrossing Broadway show that stars Alfred Molina as painter Mark Rothko.

Gabriel will be performing on May 1 and May 2, so go and support him!!!

He is a great guy and we are delighted to have made his acquaintance!
Here he is trying on his outfit for the show at our place!!!

Is he excited about it??????? Well, in his words:

" I am totally stoked!!!!!!"

Friday, March 19, 2010

SPRING GOSSIP - What we have been up to!!!

Admittedly, we have been so absorbed in publishing the “Hose Me Down” series that we have neglected to let you know about some of our projects in the past few months!

Here are some of the highlights,..and MORE to follow!

FILM:
. Contemporary film “Henry’s Crime” came in to rent Victorian clothes for a “Cherry Orchard” play-within-a-film in which we dressed Keanu Reeves and Vera Farmiga.

(at right, costume designer Melissa Toth looks through our Victorian capelets for the above movie)

. Spanning the 1940’s through the 1980’s, “Mr. Tambourine Man”, is a film we worked on about an autistic young man who is saved through the healing power of music.  Based on a true story, it stars Lou Taylor Pucci.


. “Bill Wilson and the History of Alcoholics Anonymous” spent two days at our place doing actor fittings, renting men’s and women’s clothes from periods as diverse as Edwardian, 1920’s, 1930’s and 1950’s.


(At left, costume designer Terese Wadden chooses her picks for the above film)

. We continue to hold principal items for “Bolden!”, hoping that it will be an amazing smash when it finally gets released!


TV:
. We are excited that among the many period 1930’s items we rented and sold to HBO mini-series “Mildred Pierce” (yep, THAT one with Joan Crawford!) its star, Kate Winslet will AGAIN be wearing our clothes.  (We have her in our costumes in “Revolutionary Road” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” too!)

. Masha and Kristen have continued to use their styling expertise to help costume the PBS series “God In America”, pulling Victorian for characters such as Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Wise, Charles Briggs, A.A. Hodge, female ice-skaters, students and 1920’s for Clarence Darrow and Williams Jennings Bryan.

. We seem to have an affinity for “Mad Men”: we did two “Saturday Night Live” segments, one hosted by January Jones (“Jekyll and Hyde“ and “A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette” sketches) and another by John Hamm.

(At left, our wonderful Winter intern Hannah helped Saturday Night Live's brilliant designer Tom Broecker look for men's suits)




. “Law and Order: Criminal Intent”, we rented  a lot of menswear for an episode about a serial killer, and an elderly Holocaust survivor is interviewed wearing our vintage men’s 1930’s suit complete with suspenders, tie, pocketwatch and chain.

(At right, our terrific new intern Caroline (sitting down) helps the Law & Order CI design crew find just the right period collars!)


THEATER:
. A woman’s 1940’s robe for "All my Sons" at the Huntington Theater In Boston.

. For “Oh, Those Beautiful Weimar Girls” at the New Stage Theatre Company in NYC we dressed the MC, complete in a 1920’s man’s suit, suspenders, hat, bowtie and boots.

. 1960’s men’s suits for “Barefoot in the Park” at the Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, NJ.

. 1940’s period menswear for the University of Delaware’s “Death of a Salesman”.

. Lots of 1930’s men’s and women’s clothes for the Encore Series production of “Fanny” at City Center in NYC.

 . 1930’s and 1940’s women’s dresses for “Black Pearl Sings” at the Merrimack Repertory Theater in Lowell, MA.
 
. Currently on Broadway, “The Glass Menagerie” starring Judith Ivey, rented women’s and men’s 1920’s and 1930’s clothes and hats (through May 30th). ( at right, its hunky talented designer, Marty Pakledinaz!)

. Victorian clothes for the lead character in “Footsteps from Before”, a play produced by Our Firefighter’s Children Foundation performed especially for children at Queens College in NYC, about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.  Alas, one performance was cancelled due to one of New York’s huge snowstorms, so the production hopes to reschedule another performance in the future.


. A 1930’s evening gown for “Yank”, the musical about young men in love in WWII, at the York Theater in NYC (orirginally through March 23rd, it has just been extended for 2 weeks!). (at left, Yank assistant designer Becky Laskey shows off her inner diva!)

. A 1940’s man’s suit for “The Pride”, at NYC’s MCC Theater, about the relationship between two gay men in the 1940’s (through March 20th).

. Along THAT note, we are happy that the new production of “The Boys in the Band” playing at the Transport Group Theatre Group in NYC has gotten such rave reviews that the run has been extended!  We rented them 1970’s suits and an Edwardian dressing-gown (through March 28th). (At right, costume designer Kathryn Rohe tries on a dressing gown they might rent)

. We rented 1940’s men’s clothes for “Remembering Mr. Maugham”, a play about Somerset Maugham at the Clurman Theatre in NYC (through March 14th).

. 1940’s menswear (again!) for a more modern production of “Measure for Measure” at Theatre for a New Audience in NYC (through March 14th).

(at left, asst. designer Jacob Climer drops by to go through our men's suits) 




ADVERTISING:
. Most of you stare at the beautiful models in the Vanity Fair lingerie ads, but check out the model in antique 1940’s bra, tap pants and shoes to replicate a pin-up of the past!

. The latest New York Lottery commercial will have little children dressed up as adults…the miniature “bag lady” is ours!

. An Australian commercial for Tooheys Beer: a scene with “underground rockers” wearing everything of ours from men’s Victorian coats, capes, army jackets, shirts, undershirts, to top hats, bowlers and fedoras, AND 1960’s glitzy clothes that we sold, rather than rented, to the commercial.  (We DO have sales racks!)


(Above, the beer commercial's design team Susana Gilboe (l) and head designer Kasia Maimone (r) choose items for the Aussie TV )

. We did a “spec commercial” for Arm and Hammer Toothpaste in which we rented a period dental smock.

. A little girl’s 1950’s dress for a Timex commercial.

MAGAZINES:
. We are ALL over “L’Uomo Vogue”The issues haven’t been published yet, but the end of December we did a fun shoot with Alec Baldwin in which he dressed in a cross between a Victorian chimney sweep and a Charles Dickens ragamuffin character and in January, we dressed Tyra Banks in a fantasy photo shoot of clothes and accessories from all periods.

SPECIAL EVENTS:
. An entire “Old West” cowboy accessories and Victorian undergarment display for the trend forecasting “Fashion Snoops” trade show display for  “The Magic Show” in Las Vegas, sponsored by Women’s Wear Daily.


CATALOGS:
. A 1950’s bathing cap for a 2010 “Anthropologie Catalog”, featuring their new bathing suit line.

. 1940’s and 1950’s playwear and parasols for a “Bace Incorporated” catalogue.
(To the right,  producer Nahoko Hayashi and her assistant model our accessories they will use for the catalog.)


...in closing, we especially want to give a big shout-out of "CONGRATULATIONS!" to our Fall intern Jennifer ( who visited us recently, below) on her recent engagement!!!!



..and a big welcome to our Spring intern  Caroline, who is realizing, along with senior staffers Kristen and Masha, what is important in our life....DESSERT!