Saturday, November 5, 2016

My 1938 Simplicity Catalog - Equal Parts Sad and Beautiful...

Hello all,
Today for your enjoyment I have more photos from my 1938 Simplicity store counter catalog.
This is the first vintage catalog I ever purchased, and I was delighted to find that it helped me accurately date my Simplicity S-Series sewing patterns.

More importantly though, it has also become a fascinating and sometimes personal glimpse into the mind of one of its previous owners. The lady who had it starting in 1939 used this big, heavy ungainly tome as a recipe book and war-time journal!
Beautiful page after beautiful page is peppered with recipes, articles, and jokes pasted over stunning illustrations and written over with notes like the following...

"1944 December 21. Thursday A.M. 11-20 o'clock. (So and so) has just stopped by on her way to the auction farm. She had been to the hospital to get a shot in the arm - I have just finished making the children some fruit divinity candy. It's so good. Must get the box packed and in the mail. How I wish they were home with me. ... God Bless them, and every soldier and sailor..."

As she is writing this blessing on her troops, the U.S. 101st Airborne and others are surrounded at Bastogne, fighting for their lives and cut off from supplies and reinforcements. This was part of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge, where the U.S. alone lost 19,000 brave men, the allies nearly as many, and the Germans so many more.

It makes my heart break a little for her and every other woman who has ever waited for a troop to come home safely, no matter what side they were on, and reminds me how blessed I am that mine hasn't been called to an active war-zone yet.

Note, you can find an interesting looking recipe for old fashioned divinity candy here. I'm going to make some myself, sit in some warm sunshine, and hope that the box of candy made its way into the warm, safe hands of whoever she sent it to.

I'll just leave these here for you to read and enjoy without my commentary on the rest of them. Her notes are perfect enough all on their own.

Yes, yes it is!

We have previously talked about Simplicity 2229, featured above, in one of our Sew Expensive posts.


  1. Oh Anna! What a treasure trove this purchase is! So sorry to hear her sad story - you can just feel what she must have gone through. Very sad. The photos and recipes and all are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing! Kathy from Arizona

  2. Such a rare thing to find, and an unexpected peek into someone's life and thoughts. I noticed there was nothing pasted on written on the page with the wedding dress - she probably was a romantic :) I once bought a wartime knitting book off ebay which had clippings attached here and there with pins, and there was a letter as well, from the owners daughter in law, informing her that she was having her first baby and she would soon be a grandmother.

  3. What an interesting booklet! Pieces of costume and even world history on its pages! :)

  4. What a treasure! That would be so fascinating to read. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  5. What an unexpected and lovely piece of everyday history you've got there! :)

  6. This is so wonderful! What a fantastic insight, not only into the fashions and sewing patterns of the day, but also into the mind of the lady who owned it. I would've definitely bought this if I'd seen it.

  7. Thank you for sharing, what a lovely treasure!

  8. Oh wow, this is one of the coolest things I have seen lately. What a treasure!