Sunday, 29 January 2012

Second World War household linens - Utility Mark

The auction this week brought a large lot of unused Utility Mark household linens.

They were still in the original brown paper wrapping..all tied up with string.

Some had the original paper labels

 I wonder why they were bought and never used?  Maybe they were intended for "the bottom drawer" and due to the war the wedding was never to be.

The Utility Mark was introduced towards the end of 1941 by the British government with several purposes in mind.

Raw materials (cloth, wool, leather etc.) were in short supply and had to be conserved. Manufacturers needed to become more efficient in their working practices (Much of the skilled labour had left to fight in the war). Clothing prices needed to be kept down so that the civilian population could afford clothing of a reasonable quality.  The government took control of the import and manufacture of raw materials and supplied cloth etc. to manufactures.

Manufactures were encouraged to produce a limited range of garments and other household linens and therefore produce longer runs. This obviously increased efficiency while reducing the choice available.

The style of items produced were also subject to 'austerity' regulations, which restricted how much cloth was used. For example on clothing, pockets were restricted, a maximum length for men's shirts was introduced and a ban on turn ups for men's trousers caused much heated debate.

So in my haul were cream pure wool blankets, pure brushed cotton blankets and cotton twill sheets. The latter are so strong that they will last decades of use unlike the thin cotton sheets of today. Also tucked into one of the parcels were several Irish linen glass cloths and men's hankies


Finally, I had to include a photo of one of the adverts from the newspaper that was wrapped around the sheets.  Modern washing machines of the time......apparently labour saving devices? 


Saturday, 21 January 2012

A textile treasure box!

So this week at the auctions I came across an eclectic mixture of textiles! I bought a box which was very much a case of "not judging a book by it's cover".

Yes, it looked like this on the outside, and not much more interesting at first glance inside as the top layer was a quantity of old 1950's green shiny damask curtains, but it turned out to be a virtual treasure chest underneath ....

Lots of interesting textiles but a very strange mixture to all come from the same household!

 Harris tweed fabrics in several different colours.

A white Irish linen surplice - complete with page from original catalogue from 1935.

    Lots of lace collars and other Swiss lace trim.

 Ladies silk hankies commemmorating the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

And lots of white Irish linen napkins - not a set of 4 or 6 amongst them!

All this along with the curtains, several pillowcases full of holes and three bottles of hand cream!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

First auctions of 2012!

So it's back to the auctions for the first time this year - 2012!  As is the way, there hasn't been an auction for around three weeks due to the Xmas period and then this week there are six - some held on the same day so impossible to get to them all! So, I have had to decide which ones to attend, which to leave commission bids and which to avoid all together!

The first purchase this year was a box of Victorian baby clothes.

They don't look very inspiring in the box however now that they have been washed and pressed........

A great improvement!

At the bottom of the box was a lot of lace and Swiss embroidery trim. As the dresses all came from the same family (Alexander family)and were all hand stitched presumably the lace had been saved from other baby clothes and was awaiting use on more garments.

So now it's ready and available for you crafters out there to use to embellish and create something new.

Another auction tomorrow so I'll get the bidding paddle ready!