The Delineator Revisited

Banner image is from The Delineator, January 1899.

Occasionally after writing about an individual or building, I’m left with a handful of fun tidbits that, for one reason or another, I was unable to fit into the final piece.   It’s a bit like finishing up a quilt and realizing that some of your favourite squares didn’t make it in – which, if you’ve no plans on quilting another one, can be kind of irritating.  (Please note: I’ve never made a quilt.  I expect actual quilters are better at planning these things.)  Anyhow, I recently found myself in just this pickle after finishing Delineating Richmond St W  – the Delineator magazine being my quilt, and a stack of articles and fashion illustrations my patterned squares.  And so, if you’ll humour me, this is a rather picture-heavy second look at the women’s magazine.

As I mentioned in my previous post, The Delineator was published out of 33 Richmond St W, from 1890 to 1912.  It was predominantly a vehicle for Butterick clothing patterns and so the pages were rife with illustrations of elaborate outfits meant to whip you into a sewing frenzy.

delineatorvol5353unse_0001
If he weren’t yet to be created, I’d have said she was going for a Mickey Mouse look here.  From The Delineator, January 1899.
Uh oh, there’s a fight brewing … the lass on the left is about to be slapped and her hat is bristling with alarm. Even the woman in the neighbouring illustration is concerned. From The Delineator, February 1893.
Delineator April 1895
From the age when being built like a mantelpiece was all the rage. From The Delineator, April, 1895.

As a women’s magazine, The Delineator understood that clothing had to be functional too.  I mean, its readers were real women who didn’t just stand around holding fans, looking wistful. They went outdoors occasionally and took exercise.

I’m not sure if she’s getting on or off the bicycle here – but the fella’s being a gent and averting his eyes in case a quantity of leg appears. From The Delineator, April 1895.
“Why are you following me? Are you Death?”  From The Delineator, February 1893.

Also a fun feature of the magazine was its household hints.  … I won’t twist your arm and ask you to read this whole description of how to “freshen” a carpet.  (Not deep clean, mind you – just freshen.)   I think it’s enough if I tell you it involves wet sawdust, vinegar and a lawn mower.

From April, 1895
From The Delineator April, 1895

On Interior Decorating:

Delineator Feb 1893 Cosy Corners
Step 1: Buy as much fabric as you can. Step 2: Hang it everywhere. From The Delineator, February, 1893.

And then under Physical Culture we have this … thing:

Delineator February 1893Attitudes of the Eyeball
I guess there are people whose inability to read body language extends to “attitudes of the eyeball” and require guidance.  Take note, folks: according to the Sixth Attitude, a closed eye denotes “sleep or death.”  From The Delineator, February 1893.

Because The Delineator was actually an American magazine re-jigged for a Canadian audience, there wasn’t a whole lot of local flavour.  What little Canadian content there was came in the form of advertising.

Dodds Kidney Pills Delineator April 1895
Always an attention getter – the dire warning. Even better is the one that tells you it’s all your own fault.  … I wish they’d stopped short of “bearing-down pain.” From The Delineator, April 1895.
Forget your acai and goji berries, Tutti Frutti will cure what ails you - and make you beautiful. February 1893.
Forget your acai and goji berries, powerful Tutti Frutti will cure anything – even ugliness.  From The Delineator, February issue, 1893.
Um, if this is a picture of Dr. Martin, it’s not exactly a recommendation. Looks like a concerned Rasputin. From The Delineator, February, 1893.

Eavesdroppers never hear anything nice about their corsets. The Brush & Co offered quite the guarantee: If you break your corset you will get your money back - within a year. Now who doesn't like the sound of that? February 1893.

“Eavesdroppers never hear anything nice about their corsets.”  Brush & Co offered quite the guarantee: If you break your corset you will get your money back – within a year.  Now who wouldn’t like the sound of that? From The Delineator, February 1893.

One regular full-page advertiser was our old friend Prof. Dorenwend.  You may remember him from a few months back:

I’ve tried, honest, but I can’t begin to figure out what you were supposed to do with “The Wave Front.” It looks like a baby jumper made from wooly mammoth fur. February, 1893.
I’ve tried, honest, but I can’t begin to figure out what you were supposed to do with “The Wave Front.” It looks like a baby jumper made from woolly mammoth fur. From The Delineator, February, 1893.

But I would be seriously remiss if I were to let you believe The Delineator was just a fashion magazine, because it definitely strove to be much more.

As with similar periodicals of the late 19th century, The Delineator was notable for being a home for women writers – many of whom had interests outside of dress patterns and craft projects.  Among the notable contributors over the years was Emily James Smith, the first dean of Barnard College, who wrote a series of articles about women’s education at co-ed colleges in the U.S.  Also a contributor was Helen M. Winslow whose article “Club Women and Club Life”  was a celebration of early women’s groups such as the New England Women’s Club begun by suffragists Julia Ward Howe and Harriet Hanson Robinson.  While neither James Smith’s or Winslow’s pieces were terribly strong in their suffragist messaging, their presence in a popular magazine helped lay seed for the growing women’s movement.

By 1913, The Delineator had moved out of 33 Richmond St W and taken up residence on Duchess St – which (funny enough) is part of today’s Richmond St E.  The publisher continued to put out Canadian volumes of the magazine through the 1920s, at least –  but by 1937, the entire magazine (U.S. base included) had folded.  Butterick itself, on the other hand, survives to this day.

Whew ….  there you have it.  That’s all my squares now stitched together.  If you’ve come along with me this far – thank you.  I hope you’ve found The Delineator worthy of this second visit.

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6 thoughts on “The Delineator Revisited

  1. As soon as you mentioned “picture heavy,” I knew this post was going to be a riot. I snickered so much reading it that my boyfriend kept giving me funny looks. I especially loved the “Why are you following me? Are you Death?” and your assessment of Dr. Martin. I hope the latter was just a case of poor printing that made it look like his shirt and normal length beard just blended together, because if that is all actually beard, yikes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! That it made you snicker makes my day 🙂 Yeah, I really hope that wasn’t a true representation of Dr. Martin … makes me wary that his specialty was “private” diseases.

      Like

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