Our Favorite Things: “Ghost Stories” Print

By Christian Hernandez, Social Media Volunteer

In light of the ATHM’s new exhibit Flowers in the Factory, which mines our Osborne Library for inspiration for an ethereal large-scale fabric art installation, I want to talk about one of my favorite objects in the library.

The Osborne Library has a vast collection of objects on paper or related material. This includes books, newspapers, prints, photographs, promotional material, and manuscripts, both from organizations and from individual people. As I was going through our online database (more about that later) I came across this serene photogravure print. A photogravure is an intaglio print based on the photography-making process. Ink reproductions are made from an engraved metal plate that can be so rich in detail that it has photo-like qualities. This particular photogravure is called “Ghost Stories.”

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Our Favorite Things: Clothing in “Textile Revolution”

By Nancy Rogier, Museum Volunteer

Two items in the museum have fascinated me since the first time I saw them, but for different reasons: we know a lot about the first item, but not so much about the second. These two pieces, on display in ATHM’s core exhibition, Textile Revolution, illustrate the connection between history and mystery that surround objects that humans create and leave behind. All artifacts have a story, but not every object has a provenance or background that can be discovered—therein lies the mystery—and, as objects can’t speak, it takes research and investigation to bring their history to light, as well as to establish their place in the world.

Both of my favorite items belong in the world of clothing. The first is a polyester dress from the early 1970s designed by Jonathan Logan and purchased from Bonwit Teller, a high-end department store that flourished in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The second is a navy blue knitted woman’s suit that dates to the 1930s or 1940s. The 1970s dress captivates me because it came to museum with quite a lot of its history. We know the donor, who was the original and only owner of the dress. On display is a photo of the donor wearing the dress. The dress is a typical and appealing 70s style—a black scoop-necked, long-sleeved A-line shift with a geometric design of circles, squares, and lines in bright colors that really pop against the dark background. If you saw it on someone today, you’d probably think it fits right in. I love it not only because of the style, but because we know so much about the item. The photo of the donor wearing the dress at a garden party is an extra fascination for me—her only accessories are her shoulder-length hair, parted in the middle, and a gold circle-link belt, both very 1970s items!

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What Size Pants Do You Wear?

By Jane Ward, ATHM Librarian

Advertisements for clothing come in many forms, but one of the more unique ways in which pants were advertised are two of the following.

This card for Lee Riders, cut in the shape of a pair of jeans with Lee Riders clearly visible, was probably distributed by the Lee Jeans company to retailers.  This one has stamped on the back: “Hunshucker’s General Store, Casper, Wyoming, ranch and cattlemen’s supplies and apparel.”   It probably dates from the 1950s. Hunshucker’s apparently no longer exists, but it is probably emblematic of the many general stores in the western part of the U.S. that catered to ranchers and cattlemen.

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Our Favorite Things: Gearhart Knitting Machine

By Dave Unger, ATHM Director of Interpretation

Turn the crank of the Gearhart Knitting Machine and the yarn carrier clicks around in a circle. A cam carries the latch needles up and back down again. Yarn unravels from the spool and the machine’s delicate hooks loop it through and through again. Turn the crank of the Gearhart Knitting Machine and a sock forms by the ingenious magic of careful engineering.

The Gearhart was the first of our textile machines that I learned to operate and it is still my favorite. Like many of the best examples of mechanical engineering, the mechanism is simple and robust. This machine has worked reliably for more than a century and needs little maintenance or adjustment. Its motion is beautiful and hypnotic. I made a short video as an ode to my favorite machine.

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12 Days of Christmas at the American Textile History Museum

We here at the American Textile History Museum like to have some fun and show off our collection. So for this holiday season we’d like to present to you our version of the 12 Days of Christmas. There are many versions of the song but we will to use the version published by Pamela McArthur Cole in 1900 because it was published nearby in Boston. Here’s the version she published in the Journal of American Folklore (Vol. 13, No. 50, Jul. – Sep., 1900).

The first day of Christmas my true love sent to me … an partridge feathered Adolfo beret from the 1960s.

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