Dover Picture Book

Text Box with description of Book

    This exquisitely gorgeous collection of mostly lady's wear, is compiled from Godey's Lady's Book, a magazine published from July 1830 to August 1898. Sara Josepha Hale became the editor in 1837, and held that post for forty years until her retirement at age 90!
    Mrs. Hale was quite the incredible woman: A widow with five children, she was also the first female editor in the United States. The introduction in this book by editor JoAnne Olian says of Sara:

"A true daughter of the republic, her chief interest lay in using the printed page as a forum to champion women's rights. She campaigned for higher education for women, helped to shape the policy and curriculum of Vassar College, urged the admission of women to medical schools, advocated the retention of their property rights after marriage, dignified homemaking with the term "domestic science," and editorialized about these subjects on numerous occasions. Among her forward-thinking concepts were day nurseries for children of working mothers, public playgrounds, and the establishment of schools for the study of nursing."

    WOW, huh? In the mid 1800s, yet. And not only all this, but she "was responsible for the Presidential Proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday." AND. . . she was the author of Mary had a Little Lamb." Amazing lady.
    Interestingly enough, she was not an advocate of the frivolity of Parisian "high fashion," that appeared in the magazine. She said:

"Our engraving of the 'Fashions' . . . is not given as a pattern for imitation, but as a study for each reader to examine and decide how far this costume is appropriate to her own figure, face and circumstances. This exercise of individual taste is sadly neglected by our own fair countrywomen."

    Indeed!
    Of fashions with incredibly tiny waistlines (which must have been a nightmare of discomfort), she says:

"This fashion will tend to fill doctors' pockets with considerable rapidity, and help to people cemeteries in an ever-increasing ratio."

    After the introduction that supplies this historical information, there is a description of each plate which includes the fabrics, colors, and details. (It is also noted that the descriptions in this edition are nowhere near the details included in the original magazine.)
    One thing I was not aware of was that women wanted these dresses made exactly as the original design. While I knew they were not ready-made, I assumed colors, especially, would be a matter of choice. Not so, as in our modern day where we have a zillion different colors of the same style from which to choose. The other thing that surprised me was how little I knew of the fashion terminology. I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable seamstress, but I found I was having to do some research to understand the descriptions, so you might want to keep Google handy as you read. I'll give you a starter: A chip hat is made from shaved willow.

    I have included fifteen of the eighty plates included in the book. Rather than using my usual method of photographing my images, I decided to use what I found online since so many were available, and I don't like to flatten my books to photograph them because I don't want to damage the spine.

Also, below you will see a table labeled "Plate #" and "Page #." This is a comparison of this book and the Godey's Fashions Coloring Book. It was not that easy to recognize all of the pictures. For one thing, Ming-Ju Sun broke them up and rearranged them, and in a couple instances, actually changed the picture a little. And not all of her drawings are included in this picture collection, which I wish I had when I worked on the coloring book. I would have used accurate colors (for the reason I mentioned above). I will no doubt do the coloring book again at some point. In any case, if you have the coloring book and wish to use these pictures as a guide, the table will assist you in finding the appropriate matching plates.

Plate #689113740404145 475051555451
Page #34451314151416 171819182021
Plate #525559606263 616670717277798078
Page #212122232524 252626272728292930

Plate 5

Plate 6

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Plate 61

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