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Bloomingdale's Illustrated 1886 Catalog

Bloomingdale's Illustrated 1886 Catalog
Fashions, Dry Goods and Housewares. By the Bloomingdale Brothers. New Introduction by Nancy Villa Bryk. (Dover Publications, Inc., New York: 1992. Pg. 158. approximately 1,700 b&w Illustrations.) ISBN-10: 0-486-25780-0, ISBN-13: 978-0-486-25780-8.

This book can be ordered directly from Dover Publications at: www.doverpublications.com
Reviewed by Auggie Moore - August 17, 2010

Dover Publications has provided a great service to historians, writers, costume designers, reenactors, artists and general readers alike by republishing a variety of old catalogs, both from mail order companies and traditional stores. One such catalog is the Bloomingdale's Illustrated 1886 Catalog, which concentrates primarily on fashions with a small assortment of dry goods and housewares also listed in the catalog. Of special interest, the catalog concludes with more than twelve pages of ads, from a variety of companies for products including corsets, an electric tooth brush, balanced chronometer and regulator valves, and much more. You'll also find ads offering newspaper subscriptions for a number of papers including The Hebrew Standard and a full page ad for the United States Express Company along with the shipping rates for sending parcels all over the United States.

Bloomingdale's was a New York Department store, and their older catalogs are hard to come by. This one features around 1,700 different items, all with descriptions and accompanying illustrations. When this catalog was originally published, it was entitled Spring & Summer 1886 - Bloomingdale Brother's Price List. This Dover edition of the catalog was published in conjunction with the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village and it includes a new introduction by Nancy Villa Bryk curator of the Domestic Life Division of the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village.

The year 1886 was situated well into the middle of the Victorian era, and as such this catalog provides a solid representation of American Victorian fashions of the period - including such unique items as swim wear for men, women, and children, babies' diapers, maternity dresses, ladies' rubber coats, bridal fashions, hoops, bustles, corsets and other 'foundation' garments that helped create the fashion profile of the period, and shoes. Other unique sections include a nice variety of 'hair goods' ranging from wigs to hair curlers as well as pipes, hair ornaments, jewelry for men and women, school supplies, fabric and lace, walking sticks, trunks, housewares, fashion accessories such as parasols and purses, and much more. While a number of household and dry goods items are included in this catalog, you'll not find as many items listed in this catalog as you will find in the bigger mail order catalogs of the period.

Bloomingdale's Illustrated 1886 Catalog is ideal for anybody with an interest in the fashions and consumer goods available in American during the late 1880's. As such this catalog provides an intriguing glimpse into domestic life in America during this period. As a side note, this is a very rare catalog and the reproduction of the 1886 edition is unabridged with the exception that about nine pages are missing. These pages are missing because they were missing from the original catalog upon which this reproduction was based.

Related Reviews:

English Women's Clothing in the Nineteenth Century, by C. Willett Cunnington.
Remarkably thorough illustrated overview based on rare period photographs, periodicals, other contemporary sources. Description and information about hundreds of fashions: morning dresses, riding outfits, carriage costumes, evening dresses, bridal gowns, more.

Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue: Spring & Summer 1895, by the Montgomery Ward & Co.
Tea gowns, yards of flannel and pillow-case lace, stereoscopes, books of gospel hymns, the New Improved Singer Sewing Machine, side saddles, milk skimmers, straight-edged razors, high-button shoes, and spittoons are some of the 25,000 items listed in this catalog.

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