Mystery Objects from the Past
As I often do, I've been going through my antique and vintage women's magazines looking at the fashions. While browsing, I am often struck by the interesting objects offered for sale and by the thought that very few people these days would even recognise what these things are (or were). So I decided to have a competition.
Results are now in, and I'm pleased to say that the winner is Carly P., who got most of them correct, or almost correct. Congratulations Carly, I have sent you a $50 voucher. Everybody else who entered should have received a 20% discount code, so let me know if you did not receive yours.
Can you identify these 10 mystery objects? Now With Answers.
Object 1: What is it?
Small object, smaller than 2.5 cm (1")
A stocking button or supporter. Here is a bit more of the ad, from the Lady's World Fancy Work Book, no.19, January 1911.
This is the little button that would clip through the loop in the suspenders, before they had all in one suspenders.
Object 2: What is it?
Fabric object, smaller than 15 cm (6")
I know it's not a great photo, but dress shields. These were clipped inside your dress at the underarm to prevent soiling from perspiration, because of course many of these dresses could not be washed. You just unclip them and launder the shields, not the dress. I've made some for my own vintage and non-wash dresses, they're great.
From the Au Bon Marche - Paris catalogue for January, 1930.
Object 3: What is it?
Metal object, smaller than 46 cm (18")
A bean slicer. It is clamped to the table. It takes two sizes of beans, and is most useful when beans are in season and one is preserving large quantities.
From The Myer Catalogue, Spring 1949.
Object 4: What is it?
Wooden object, less than 15 cm (6")
A darning mushroom, placed beneath the hole to give the sewer a firm surface to work on when darning holes.
From The Myer Catalogue, Spring, 1949
Object 5: What is it?
Fabric object, less than 51 cm (20")
A kidney belt. Here is the complete ad, from The Australian Women's Mirror, July 14, 1925.
Floating kidney? Who knew?
Object 6: What is it?
Wooden and wire mesh object - 138 cm (4'6") wide
A child's cot, with protection from insects. Presumably the hatch at the bottom is for putting the child in and out when small.
From the Myer Catalogue, Spring 1949
Object 7: What is it?
Period pants and sanitary towels, no doubt for the wealthy. Fabric, and for laundering, not for disposal.
From: Au Bon Marche - Paris, catalogue, January 1930.
Object 8: What is it?
Smaller than 15 cm
A net threader. Here is the whole ad, from The Australian Women's Mirror, July 14, 1925.
This was used to embroider designs in netting, very popular in the 1920s. Here is an example:
See my blog post about this book at:
And also to create linens like this:
I believe the same kind of needle was used by fisherman to make and repair fishing nets.
Object 9: What is it?
Approximately 152 cm wide (60")
Although I think this does look a little like a puppet theatre, given the size, it is actually a fireplace, despite the curtains. It's hardly surprising that this look did not last for long, and I wonder how many houses burnt down because of it.
From: The Lady's World Fancy Work Book, 1909
Object 10: What is it?
Smaller than 101 cm long (40")
No, it's not a baby's bib, but a lady's vest for warmth. It tied at the sides. Here is a description, from The Lady's World Fancy Work Book, No. 42, 1916.
"Woolly Undie - This useful little bodice is made in one piece on the latest lines, and will be very acceptable to ladies who need extra warmth to the chest and back. It is easy to make, very dainty, and unlike many woollen undergarments, it has no unnecessary fullness."
So now you know. Just some little glimpses of how life was different way back when.