Fashion illustrations, 1870-1875

E. Butterick and Company


11 items : ill. (some col.)..
Consists of six fashion plates depicting men, women, and children shown in outdoor scenes wearing clothing that presumably was made from Butterick patterns. Both summer and winter attire are represented. One of the plates is for the "Semi-Annual Report of New York Fashions for Spring and Summer, 1872." It was printed from the "Steampress of Hatch & Co." and "Entered according to Act of Congress, the the year 1872 by E. Butterick & Co., in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington." Another plate, illustrating four men's suits, is signed "L. Mauer, lithographer of Heppenheimer & Maurer." There are also four chromolithographs showing hats, bonnets, hair pieces, and other women's headwear. It is likely that the plates appeared in the "Metropolitan" or another fashion magazine. Each of the illustrations is labeled "New York Fashions, E. Butterick and Co."..
Also included is a 35 page sketchbook with pencil drawings of garments for which Butterick and Co. produced patterns. Each drawing has a number that seems to correspond to numbers used in Butterick's trade catalogs. Front and rear views are provided for each article of clothing. Such items as dresses, skirts, jackets, capes, ladies overshirts, overdresses, children's suits, bonnets, bibs, infant night dresses, and boy's dress clothes are represented. A distinction between ladies and misses clothing is made.
E. Butterick and Company produced standardized paper patterns for clothes. The firm was founded by Ebenezer Butterick, who began his career as a tailor and shirtmaker in Sterling, MA. Around 1859, either he or his wife, Ellen, developed a set of graded shirt patterns to reproduce garments in unlimited quantities. After experimentation, the first patterns, primarily for children's attire, were marketed in 1863. The patterns were instantly successful and the demand for them so widespread that later in the year, Butterick moved to a larger town, Fitchburg, in order to have better facilities for manufacture and distribution. In 1864, part of the operation moved to New York City.
Patterns were primarily sold through agents. One of those agents, J.W. Wilder, suggested that Butterick produce patterns for women's clothing. A major expansion in the business followed the introduction of patterns for ladies garments. In 1867, J.W. Wilder and A.W. Pollard joined with Butterick to form E. Butterick and Company. In 1869, the factory and the remainder of the business moved from Fitchburg to Brooklyn, NY. Wilder, an aggressive businessman, was the active and controlling member of the firm. He started a magazine, "Metropolitan," with fashion reports to increase sales; the magazine later became the "Delineator." By 1876, the company had branches in London, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. The firm was reorganized in 1881 and renamed the Butterick Publishing Company, Ltd. Wilder was its president and Butterick its secretary. Butterick remained active in that capacity until 1894.
Fashion plates are mounted; sketchbook is laminated.
Printed Book and Periodical Collection, Winterth ur Library.

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