Dover Book

Text Box with description of Book

One of the things I love about Dover Publications is that they reprint books and manuscripts that are out of print and copyright expired, often making them rare books of which regular people would not even be aware, and sell them at a reasonable price, although each time their ownership changes, those prices seem to go higher since Hayward Cirker, Dover's founder, died. I really can't complain, though, because I often find myself in the possession of a fifty-dollar-off coupon. Anyways, I'm sure I bought this one on sale or clearance. It was worth whatever I paid.

But one of the things I really don't like about Dover is that they reprint these obscure books and manuscripts with almost no background information on the source or author/editor/compiler. They created this edition from a much larger collection entitled The History of the Feminine Costume of the World, From the Year 5318 B.C. to Our Century, "our century" being up to 1927. My research yielded nothing on Giafferri except that he published this in 1926-27 and the entire, very extensive work was in two volumes and in French. It is now considered a rare manuscript, and I saw one copy selling for $3,000. However, since it is out of copyright, it is in the public domain, and I found a beautiful source for the original manuscript at The New Your Public Library Digital Collections. If you click the first image, which is the book cover, and scroll down a little ways, you can opt to "view as book," and read it as you would a PDF file, which it actually is not. There is also a slider at the bottom that enables you to navigate anywhere in the book quickly. Isn't the internet wonderful? I have a friend who refuses to go online because she thinks it is evil. Yeah, there's lots of bad stuff out there, but why would a decent person go there? I LOVE the educational materials!!

And, not being satisfied that I could just read it online, I WANTED it for myself, and yes, there is a source, a couple actually, where you may download it as a PDF file to read on your computer or Kindle app. The little tiny problem is that it is a WHOPPING 101MB—a gargantuan file, and the little tiny computer I am using now, which I love—it belonged to a friend's late father who was a tax accountant who must have treated it with loving care—anyways, it has a little bitty hard drive, but I still have tons of space, and I need to get a much larger RAM stick, then I probably WILL download it. But to put things in perspective, I have a flash drive where I store all the unread eBooks I have downloaded so far, which contains roughly 350 books, and which only takes up only 904MB space!!! I am still hunting for an .epub version of this, which would be smaller and more manageable, because this is a collection I would like to own.

Unless the area of fashions interests you, this will probably all be irrelevant, but fashion, particularly historic fashion, has always been a passion with me. I was a costumer for the theater when I was in undergrad school, and am an excellent seamstress, making most of my clothes in the days when I dressed professionally, not to be "in style," but to be unique. Anyways, this book has some fascinating pictures, which apparently were all taken from different sources when Giafferri complied them. The original book covered much of the world. IUScholar Works from Indiana University says:

Twenty parts in 2 portfolios, each part containing 8 pages of text and 10 plates and laid in cover having illustrated t.p. Contents: I. China, Japan, Egypt, Assyria, Persia, India, Greece, Rome, Orient.—II. Rome, Gaul, Europe, France, Northern countries, Great Britain, Latin countries, Central Europe, The three Americas, The primitive races.

Each of the ethnic groups listed above contains ten plates, which includes dresses, usually a plate of fabric or sleeves, one of shoes, of hats, and of accessories and jewelry. There is a sentence or two about each numbered picture at the bottom of the page, but as for the eight pages of text for each part, I have not been able to find that, and that is what I seriously missed, although the original was in French. Dover, of course, translated the descriptions at the bottom of the page into English, but there were some problems here, and I am not sure if they were Dover's or the original. For instance, on the shoe page from the Greco-Roman section the descriptions did not match the numbered pictures. I re-numbered a few of them in my copy, that I could figure out what was what. The other problem and this was strictly the Dover edition, is that the colors described were WAY off from what was pictured. After I went through the trouble of scanning the ten images below with my scanner and book, I found the online book, and realized how much more accurate the colors were, so I ended up making copies from the online original source. Thus, the pictures below are NOT from the Dover edition.

The other thing that was sorely missing was a glossary of some sort because many of the fashion terms from ancient times were totally unknown to me, therefore, requiring a handy dictionary. And there were even questions about the main sections. For instance, what is Assyrian? Wikipedia's definition is way too complicated to include here, but ancient Assyria was in Northern Mesopotamia, which now comprises parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, and even into Egypt. Greco-Roman is "the mixing of elements of Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman culture," according to Google. And I won't go into fashion terms. If you are interested you can look them up yourself.

And so below, I have chosen ten various plates to share, two from each section. The sections included in the Dover edition are Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, Roman, and Greco-Roman. Another point of frustration was that almost no dates or even approximate dates for these fashion are available, at least in this edition, and I suspect they are not in the original descriptions because the Dover edition, other than translating them, did not change. However, I do know that all of these are ancient, simply by the title of the book. But gosh, some of them sure looked like '60s garb, and some could have been flappers or from the '30s and '40s. And some, well, look a lot like what one might see today like the sandals, some of the hats, sleeves and tops. I was also surprised that there were so few bare boobies. Ancient Egyptian women often did not cover their breasts and slaves went naked. It was hot down there.

Anyways, this Dover book is now out of print, but if you are interested, you can follow up on the links I've provided and enjoy the entire book. You can also easily search Dover's site for the other numerous fashion/costume materials they carry, of which I own not a few!! For all my fashion reviews, please see my Fashion, Historic and Ethnic Costume

Ancient Egyptian Costume, Plates 3 and 4

Ancient Egyptian Costume, Plate 4

Ancient Egyptian Costume, Plate 3

Assyrian Costume, Plates 15 and 18

Assyrian Costume, Plate 18

Assyrian Costume, Plate 15

Greek Costume, Plates 26 and 27

Greek Costume, Plate 27

Greek Costume, Plate 26

Roman Costume, Plates 31 and 39

Roman Costume, Plate 39

Roman Costume, Plate 31

Greco-Roman Costume, Plates 41 and 50

Greco-Roman Costume, Plate 50

Greco-Roman Costume, Plate 41

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