Mugs in the Jug: British Edition

Hey everyone! Remember that post I wrote about 1920s mug shots from Australia? Well, now I’ve got a whole bunch of new ones…from England! ūüėÄ

This particular collection comes from a scrapbook by former New Scotland Yard detective Herbert Mew, who collected over 64 images of various thieves, murderers, prostitutes, and fraudsters he arrested over the course of his career. His collection had been passed down within his family for years, but ended up going up for auction recently due to “a house clearance,” said Glen Chapman, an auctioneer at UK-based¬†C&T Auctioneers and Valuers, which recently sold the collection. Thanks to the publicity around the sale, many of these photos are now online…and you can see them below! ūüôā



T H E   S C R A P B O O K   P A G E S :

When interviewed about the scrapbook by the UK’s¬†The Daily Mail, Chapman said “I could not believe how smartly dressed they all were with their expensive looking suits.” According to the article, this probably has to do with the fact that most of these fellows were brought in on fraud charges—the lowest for 12 pounds and the highest for 10,000. Looks like they spent a lot of their ill-gotten gains on clothes and tailors…

mew scrap pg 1

Photo source: The Daily Mail

mew scrap pg 2

The reason most of these fellows are so dapper, wearing expensive tailored clothes? They’ve been brought up on fraud charges. Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew scrap pg 3

Larceny, theft and receiving stolen goods are part of why these guys got arrested. Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew scrap pg 4

The fellow in the hat on the bottom right—Fiskwick—is an Australian jeweler who was brought in for a series of robberies in 1923. Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew scrap pg 5

Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew scrap pg 6 door

This page is a little unusual thanks to the article that’s been pasted in, which describes the arrest of the dapper-looking gentlemen in the upper half of this page. My guess is Dect. Mew kept the article since he was mentioned in it by name, hehe. Also, the fellow with his arms crossed in the bottom right-hand corner, Hugh Lindsay, is the biggest fraudster of the bunch, at 10,000 pounds! ¬†Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew scrap pg 7

Sometimes you wonder why these people were arrested. I wonder what the story was with the kid on the bottom left… Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew 13 mugshot i think dope queen

That lady in the upper left is labelled “The Dope Queen.” A drug dealer, perhaps? Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew 14 mugshot

Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew 15 mugshot

Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew 16 mugshot

Photo Source: The Daily Mail

mew 17 mug shot

Photo Source: The Daily Mail

more uk mugshot mews 12 i think

Photo Source: The Daily Mail


Personally, what I love about these mug shots is trying to imagine the stories behind them. Who were these people? What did they do? And how did they get caught?

All grist for the mystery-writing mill, I suppose… ūüėČ


Posted in 1920s criminals | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Yanks Are Coming! A Booklist in Honor of America Entering WWI One Hundred Years Ago Today

enlist man

One hundred years ago on April 6th, 1917, America entered WWI and changed the world forever.

Over the course of the War, America went from an isolationist, frontier power to a major player on the international stage, both economically and politically. Ask you average American about the importance of World War I, however, and you’ll get a lot of blank stares. This is a real pity, as much of our modern social, economic, and political world has its roots in the Great War.

So, in¬†honor of today’s illustrious occasion, I present to you a book list about America’s involvement in WWI, and how that experience shapes our history today. If¬†you have some free time this April, consider picking up one of these books and spare a thought for all those¬†brave¬†doughboys a century ago, many of whom gave their lives to usher in a new era in world politics, whether they meant to or not.


T H E   B O O K L I S T:

Dead Wake: the Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson

American pro-War sentiment rode high once a German U-boat sank the Lusitania, a British passenger liner traveling from New York to Liverpool, England in 1915. An excellent, gripping read, it’s a terrific place to begin understanding why America entered World War I in the first place.

path to war

Photo Source: Oxford Press

The Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America, by Michael S. Nieberg (2016)

Though resistant at the start, by 1917 Americans were clamoring to enlist and fight “Over There.” Nieberg outlines this transition admirably while also giving voice to the many dissenters, such as many German Americans, who didn’t want American involvement in the War. Kirkus Reviews called it “A valiant attempt to dispel America‚Äôs collective amnesia over the First World War.‚ÄĚ

the world remade

Photo Source: Target

The World Remade: America in World War I by G. J. Meyer (2017)

Weaving together many disparate strands of history, Meyer creates a compelling and interesting account of America’s participation in WWI, covering everything from political battles and battlefield maneuvers to the social upheaval on the home front. An excellent place to start if you’re looking for a broad understanding of America’s role in WWI.

deluge book cover

Photo Source: Yale University

The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931, by Adam Tooze (2015)

Focusing on the final years of the Great War, Yale historian Adam Tooze offers an interesting idea: that America entered the War in order to reshape Europe on its own terms, thanks in no small part to its newfound¬†economic ability to manipulate a highly fragile, interconnected global economy. ¬†“What Adam Tooze has done,” says a Telegraph review, “is to reconstruct a vast global web, and to show how the slightest vibrations on its threads had consequences everywhere, almost regardless of individual fears and hates or venomous ideologies.”¬†“Epic in scope” and “boldly argumentative,” the New York Times called his book “splendid interpretive history” and ensured that it would give readers lots to think about.

first over there cover

Photo Source: MacMillan Publishing

First Over There: The Attack on Cantigny, America’s First Battle of World War I by Matthew J. Davenport (2015)

Here Davenport explores America’s first real battle of WWI, where the American First Division “Big Red One” wrested the French town of Cantigny from German hands. It makes an ¬†excellent companion for a visit to the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park, too. ūüôā

forty seven days cover

Photo Source: Goodreads

Forty-Seven Days: How Pershing’s Warriors Came of Age to Defeat the German Army in World War I by Mitchell Yockelson (2016)

In a mere forty-seven days, under the leadership of Gen. Pershing, millions of untested American troops managed to beat back the Germans and bring about the end of WWI almost single-handed. Yockelson explores this extraordinary feat by relying on accounts of the men who participated in the battle, from the famous (Patton and MacArthur) to the common Army grunt.

Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I, by John Eisenhower (2002)

Military historian John Eisenhower takes the reader through every American battle of WWI, while showing how leaders like Gen. Pershing transformed the American Expeditionary Force into a capable modern army that was more than capable of facing down global powers.




yanks are coming

Photo Source: Regenery Publishing

The Yanks Are Coming: A Military History of the United States in World War I, by H. W. Crocker III (2014)

A quick military history of America’s involvement in WWI, featuring a number of ¬†short biographies of the great generals and heroic fighting men that made America stand out¬†“Over There.”

last doughboys

Photo Source: Goodreads

The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War, by Richard Rubin (2013)

The last known American WWI veteran died in 2011. Thank God, then, that journalist Richard Rubin made it his personal mission to track down and interview as many of them as he could find before the last of them left this earth. A lively, engaging, and vivid read that brings to life a conflict that’s largely been forgotten in American history, as told firsthand by people who lived through it.

wwi americans who lived it

Photo Source: Penguin Random House

World War I and America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It, Edited by A. Scott Berg (2017)

Inside this collection of primary sources, you’ll find newspaper clippings, speeches, poems, diaries, magazine articles and more, all covering different aspects of America’s participation in WWI. It’s much more than just an excellent resource for term paper quotations, however. Berg’s collection shows bit by bit how America dealt with the War from many different angles—and how much impact it had on the country’s citizens, despite its short length.

over there photos

Photo Source: Amazon

Over There: America in the Great War, by Robert J. Dalessandro (2016)

Need some pictures of American soldiers in WWI? Then look no further than this gorgeous book, which contains over 360 rare photographs of American soldiers training, fighting, and dying.

fellow soldiers cover

Photo Source: Amazon

My Fellow Soldiers: General John Pershing and the Americans Who Helped Win the Great War, by Andrew Carroll (2017)

While he features a¬†new and surprising¬†“intimate” portrait of General John “Black Jack” Pershing, Carroll also explores the WWI experiences of many¬†other famous Americans in their early military careers, such as Douglas MacArthur, George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, and even a young Harry Truman—-not to mention a host of common soldiers, nurses, and other Army personnel. A highly readable and interesting take on America’s entry into WWI.

The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers, by Elizabeth Cobbs (2017)

When most people think of women¬†participating in WWI, most think of Red Cross nurses. But there were also the “Hello Girls,” women who signed on with the Army Signal Corps as telephone operators (a difficult job in and of itself)¬†and risked their lives to¬†make sure American troops could communicate on the battlefield. These “female wire experts,” demanded by Gen. Pershing himself, were integral to keeping lines open between commanders and troops. Author Cobbs shines a new light on a little known aspect of women’s involvement in WWI.

chicago transofrmed cover

Photo Source: Amazon

Chicago Transformed: World War I and the Windy City, by Joseph Gustaitis (2016)

Didn’t think I’d leave Chicago out of this, did you? Of course not! ūüėČ

Author Gustaitis shows how Chicago changed thanks to WWI—mostly thanks to major labor shortages, which helped encourage African American migration to the city, bringing a new ethnic group into the larger mix…while nearly killing off the massive pre-War German presence in the city.

War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918, by Michael Kazin (2017)

With¬†so many Americans eager to enlist thanks to all that crazy propaganda, it’s easy to forget that there were still many who people who actively protested the War—and they did so together for three years, despite vast differences in background, race, and religion. By the end of the War, public opinion turned in their favor…but not without consequences. A thoughtful look at the consequences of a forgotten movement.



…It’s time for some recordings of “Over There!” ūüôā

Here’s the first ever recording of this song, from November 1917, by singer Nora Bayes.

Or you could listen to George M. Cohan himself sing it, in his only known studio recording ever. He does a pretty good job, too!


…And this one is just because I couldn’t resist! James Cagney is the best, and so is Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).

And if you want, the lyrics are here.


wake up america poster

Posted in book list, book reviews, video post | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

See the 1920s Come to Life in Gorgeous Color Videos



When most people imagine¬†the past, many think of it as colorless. And why not? Most¬†photographs and film from those times is in black and white, especially films.¬†But what if it didn’t have to be?

Color has been a part of motion picture history from its very beginning, when Thomas Edison projected a two-colored film as early as 1896.¬†Most¬†early color films involved hand-painted cells, tinting, or the stenciling method popularized by Pathechrome technology, however. It wasn’t until 1910 when true color started coming to film with Kinemacolor. Limited to hues of red and green—adding blue would destroy the film as it ran through the camera—they brought the first flickers of color to moviegoers, even if they were often out of sync.

Technicolor, however, which began in 1915, fared much better than their competitors, and their first widely released color film, The Toll of the Sea (which you can see in full here), was a smash hit with audiences. Add to that a stabilized dyeing process invented in 1928, and by the late 1920s color film was a real possibility, even if 80 to 90 percent of films throughout the 1920s were still tinted or toned with a single color.


The following clips, however, feature a full range of glowing color given the limits of technology at the time. So, ready¬†to see the past in a more colorful light? Then check out the following list of video clips below! ūüôā


A Kodak Kodachrome Film Test From 1922

This gorgeous Kodak film test comes from the George Eastman archives¬†and features actresses Mae Murray, Hope Hampton,¬†and Mary Eaton—plus a wonderful array of vivid colors and period¬†hairstyles. Hope Hampton in particular is interesting; she’s shown modeling costumes from The Light in the Dark¬†(1922), a Lon Chaney film which included bits of color footage.


The deep, rich colors were¬†thanks to a new experimental photo-chemical process that involved a dual-lens camera. According to Vintage Everyday, the camera “recorded filtered images on black/white negative stock, then made black/white separation positives. The final prints were actually produced by bleaching and tanning a double-coated duplicate negative (made from the positive separations), then dyeing the emulsion green/blue on one side and red on the other. Combined they created a rather ethereal palette of hues.”


Actress Mary Pickford Does a Color Screen Test

Someone on YouTube thinks this clip was a color test for Douglas Fairbank’s The Black Pirate, and they might be right! Especially since it was the first film¬†“designed entirely for color cinematography.”


Visit the Streets of London in 1926

Restored by the British Film Institute’s National Archive, this video clip gives you a small tour of inner city London, complete with cute inter-title commentary! ūüôā

If you’re interested,¬†an entire playlist of these videos can be seen here on YouTube. They seem to cover much of England and Scotland, all circa the mid-1920s.


A Short Color Test of Actress Claire Windsor

Here’s a very short clip of actress Claire Windsor in a lovely feathered hat.

While it seems she was never a big star herself, she was in a lot of movies and rubbed elbows with a lot of big names. You can hear an interview with her regarding her acting career here on YouTube, or check out this blog dedicated to her memory and film career.


Watch Flappers Sashay Down the Catwalk

Poking around YouTube, I found quite a lot of these “fashion films” from the late 1920s and early 1930s. While the models never do anything too exciting,¬†it’s interesting¬†to see the color combinations that were popular at the the time. Some clothing was much brighter, garish, or interesting than¬†it seems in black and white.

Each fashion clip features a short introductory inter-title card that describes the ensemble, then a model showing it off, often in fun locales. Check out the following mini-list:

This clip comes from 1928. Check out the crazy color combos on that hat and scarf ensemble at 0:50!

The pastels and beading designs really pop in this next clip, and you get a sense of the more flowing dresses that were also popular:

This clip lacks much color (aside from the sepia tints), but it has lots of great coats that make up for it, plus parks:

As you might have noticed, most of these films come from glamourdaze’s profile on YouTube.¬†Their website features a ton of cool stuff on vintage fashion, including hairstyles and period clothing. You should check it out!


Interested in the history of color film? Then check out this quick 21 minute video over at Filmmaker IQ .

Want a list of the best tinted silent films? Then try Fritzi Kramer’s post on the history of color in silent films over¬†at Movies Silently. Her blog is one of my¬†absolute favorites!


I hope¬†you enjoyed this brief peek into a more colorful¬†past. If you’ve got any cool film links¬†from the 1920s, please¬†post them in the Comments section below! I’d love to see them ūüôā


Posted in 1920s fashion, list post, silent films, video post | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

What Job Would You Have in Britain During the 1920s?

If you worked in Britain during the 1920s, what kind of job would you have?

A fun infographic from the UK’s¬†OnStride Financial blog¬†¬†attempts to¬†answer this question, using a cheerful, colorful flow chart. Sadly, none of them¬†coincide with Downton Abbey—but they’re still pretty interesting.

The salary ranges were particularly surprising, at least to me. English bankers, I was surprised to learn, made significantly less during that time than I thought—and telephone operators made a heck of a lot more. Farmers, of course, made very little, something which is often overlooked in talking about the 1920s (it didn’t “roar” for everyone, you know).

There was one job, however, that stood out as particularly English to me, mostly because it sounded like a hold-over from the Victorian Age: the “Knocker-Upper.”

Being an ignorant American, I’d never heard of that job, but Wikipedia, the BBC, and MentalFloss assure me it was a real job, and an important way to ensure that industrial workers got up on time for work before reliable alarm clocks existed. The fact that it¬†continued well into the 1970s in parts of England, however, was amazing to me.

Most of these jobs, though, look pretty fun.¬†So which job would you have during England in the 1920s? Let me know in the comments below! ūüôā



By the way, if you’d like to explore the sources OnStride used to figure out average salaries and such, just scroll to the bottom of the original infographic here on their blog post.

Posted in infographic, link post | Tagged , | 2 Comments

John Barleycorn Must Die: Today in History, Mock Funerals Took Place Across America as Prohibition Began in Earnest

jb tombstone loc.jpg

Image Source: Library of Congress


On January 17th, 1920, hundreds of¬†fake funerals were held in churches and bars across the country for a man that didn’t exist.¬†John Barleycorn, the anthropomorphic personification¬†of beer and whiskey, was symbolically laid to rest amid cheers and tears at 12:01 AM, January 16th, 1920. These mock funerals saw the actual burial of a bottle effigy, complete with pomp and circumstance.¬†The tone of the ceremony varied widely, however, depending on who was conducting the funeral rites.

For religious Drys, it was a joyous, momentous occasion—both a summation of their political endeavors and a victory over Satan himself.¬†“Good-bye John,” said Billy Sunday, the famous baseball-player-turned-Evangelical-preacher, to a crowd of 10,000 at a mock funeral in Norfolk, Virginia. “You were God’s worst enemy; you were Hell’s best friend.”1¬†Then he¬†led the “corpse” and a group of twenty pallbearers to the church tabernacle, with “Satan” trailing behind them.2¬†“Satan”—a fellow “wearing a mask”—then sat with mourners “in a state of deep dejection” as the funeral services went on.3


An announcement for a mock Barleycorn funeral in Boston. Photo Source: Boston Globe

Virginia¬†wasn’t the only place to see Barleycorn laid to rest by triumphant Drys, however.¬†Chicago’s churches¬†sent him off in style a day later on January 18th, sending out “black bordered invitations” to invite folks to hear Capt. Frank B. Ebbert, chief counsel for the Anti-Saloon League, “conduct the funeral service” at the Second United Presbyterian Church. Considered the “most elaborate and impressive” event of its kind in the city, the funeral featured “a large imitation bottle, six feet high…[that] stood on its head in a coffin” which was then “embalmed, cremated, and buried amid…applause” and cheers from the “dry-eyed” crowd.4¬†“He was buried upside down,” Ebbert added, “so that if he ever wriggles [away] he will wriggle in the right direction.5¬†¬†

On July 1st,¬†1919, a similar act took place in Chicago, in recognition of the Wartime Prohibition act, a precursor to the wider Volstead Act.¬†St. David’s Roman Catholic Church at 32nd Street and Union held a mock funeral for Barleycorn that was just as joyous as the later one.¬†“Our women are going to act as pallbearers,” explained Father Joseph McNamee, church pastor. “They are not going to wear black, because it is too happy an event, but they will dress in white. No flowers are going to be put on the coffin, for John doesn’t deserve any, but the flowers are going to be worn in the hair of the women…we propose to march in procession all around the church…then we will bury John Barleycorn.”6¬†He wanted to wait a few days on the funeral rites, he said, so he could “invite some of the saloon keepers to be present.”7


The Drey prelude to the funerals, presumably… ūüėČ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Source: Father Penn and John Barleycorn (1920) at HathiTrust Digital


The Wets, of course, took a very different tone with their “funerals.” For them, things veered from raucous, drunken wakes to sullen tears—often right up until the bitter end. While some “funerals” had an air of fun, more often than not¬†the sadness was palpable. In New York, drunken mourners got to their feet and, “as though animated by the same impulse,” formed “mock funeral corteges and marched in and out among the bottle strewn tables, while the orchestras fiddled desperately at funeral tunes set to jazz time.”8¬†

The mood wasn’t too different from the beginning of the Wartime Prohibition Act, either. During Chicago at that time,¬†“a vast gloom made itself felt” everywhere.9 “Strong men wept as they ordered,” said the Tribune, often while calling up¬†their wives to discuss “the expediency of remaining in the office” instead of coming home.10¬†Then they’d order another round and gather together to sing The Alcoholic Blues:


When midnight rolled around, some didn’t want the party to end. In New York, when told to dispose of their drinks after midnight by pouring them onto the floor or leaving them, revelers simply drank them on the spot and stumbled away.11 In Chicago during the Wartime Act, people tried to take their booze with them—or pour one for the road: “At midnight lights were switched on and off to announce the hour and customers were told to leave. Some who were drinking from glasses carried them away. Others who had bottles in their hands about to pour drinks carried them off.”12 Apparently, no one stopped them. Some folks¬†even got a bit violent during the Wartime Act. In Chicago, a taxi driver and an insurance salesman came to blows over a 25 cent fare, and a riot started when detectives tried to arrest some men who kicked in the door to the Fountain Inn after midnight.13

But no matter how either side reacted, with the dawn of January 17th, 1920, it was clear that Prohibition had started for good.



Today, most people recognize his name thanks to this famous Traffic song from 1970, John Barleycorn Must Die:

That song, however—and the figure it mentions—is much older than the 1970s.¬†Though the first known printed version of this traditional British folksong occurred in 1568, its likely¬†that the song is much older, especially since Barleycorn’s connection to mythic grain figures is both¬†deeply pagan¬†and Christian, thanks to the themes of death and resurrection.

According to¬†Graeme Thomson, author of I Shot A Man in Reno: A History of Death by Murder, Suicide, Fire, Flood, Drugs, Disease and General Misadventure, As Related in Popular Song (The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, 2008), this song is “one of the most enduring of all British folksongs,” largely thanks to offering “a multi-tiered explanation of the sheer stubborn necessity of death.”14¬†While “ostensibly the song is about the production of cereal crop,” says Thomson, it is also “a metaphor for the Christian notion of intense suffering leading to a death made as a sacrifice for the benefit of others, but it also encompasses an essentially pagan viewpoint—the vital cycle of the changing seasons; there can be no bountiful spring without the barren winter.”15

There are many versions of the song since the 1970s, but one of the most popular versions was by the famed Scottish poet Robert Burns (you can read it here¬†or here). Interestingly, while researching this post I happened upon a ridiculously awful Temperance response to Burn’s poem. You can read it in all its hideous glory here at HathiTrust Digital.


  1. “THOUSANDS HEAR SUNDAY IN BOOZE FUNERAL SERMON.”¬† Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jan 17, 1920.
  2. “BILLY SUNDAY SPEEDS BARLEYCORN TO GRAVE; Preaches at Mock Obsequies, with Devil as Mourner, in Norfolk Tabernacle.” New York Times, Jan 16, 1920.¬†
  3. Ibid.
  4. “CHURCHES HOLD J. B.’S FUNERAL; CREMATE EFFIGY.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jan 19, 1920.
  5. Ibid.
  6. “ST. DAVID’S CHURCH PREPARES TO BURY JOHN BARLEYCORN.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Apr 05, 1919.
  7. “CHICAGO GULPS ITS FINAL CUPS AMID A BEDLAM.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jul 01, 1919.
  8. “NEW YORK CAFES BOTTLE-STREWN AT THE WINDUP.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jan 17, 1920.
  10. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Thomson, Graeme. 2008. I shot a man in Reno: a history of death by murder, suicide, fire, flood, drugs, disease, and general misadventure, as related in popular song. New York: Continuum. p 9.
  15. Ibid, p 9-10.
Posted in term origins, today in the 1920s | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Ring in the New Year With Some Fun (and occasionally bizarre) Vintage Postcards



2016 has been a crazy year…so why not start off 2017 with some crazy vintage New Year’s postcards?! ūüėČ

Holiday postcards were popular forms of greeting during the 1920s, and New Years was no exception. While Christmas has many cute¬†ones, New Years allowed card makers to branch out more—plus feature lots and lots of booze!¬†ūüėÄ

I’ve trolled the depths of to bring you the finest in vintage New Years cards from the early 1900s through the 1920s. Some are cute, some are funny, and some are…downright odd. No, really—there are lucky pigs, creepy children, and drunken shenanigans, and¬†all sorts of stuff. Scroll down and check it out!


So, since this is also a cocktail blog, I figured we should start with…booze! Here are:


lucky drinker.jpg

Not sure on the year for this one, but that lady sure looks lucky…look at those shamrocks and that horseshoe! On sale at

A Happy New Year

Annnnd here’s the first cocktail postcard. Whoo 1909! These little sayings were meant for New Years toasts.¬†On sale at

Woman New Year's Toast

And here’s the second lovely lady from 1913, with a different toast. Each one features a different international lady.¬†¬†Card on sale here at

A Happy New Year

And for those who don’t want champagne, where’s a beer toast from 1909! Card on sale at


A Happy New Year

But don’t forget those smiling Irish ladies!

New Years Girl in Champagne Glass

Aw look, it’s the…champagne fairy? With elves? ¬†

wine glass lady.jpg

And she’s got friends!

Lady in a Wine Glass with Elves

Really drunk friends.

drnk lady glass beads.jpg

…who also give away beads and free booze. Wait, is this for Mardi Gras? ūüėČ

A Happy New Year

Not a lady, but still cute! From 1907. On sale at

So now that we’re done with the ladies, we’re moving on to…pigs? I’m not sure why, but pig cards were a significant, and strange, part of my findings. Is there some folkloric reason for it? Maybe. They also have lots of shamrocks and gold coins, symbols of prosperity for the coming new year, I assume. If you know why there are so many, please let me know in the Comments. Otherwise, check out…



A Happy New Year

Apparently pigs were a symbol of good luck and prosperity in the coming year? On sale at

A Happy New Year with Pigs, Gold Coins, and Shamrocks

More pigs circa 1910. Here at

Four Pigs Dancing

Pig paaaar-taaaay!!! Here at

Gluckliche Fahrat Int Neue Jahr! - people riding on pigs

And now people are RIDING the pigs!¬†Whaa? This gets stranger and stranger…circa 1907. On sale at

pig butts.jpg

Pig butts. Pig butts!

The most popular motif of all, though, of course, was cute children, mostly with clocks. So many, many clocks!



Young Girl with Red Bouquet Atop Bottle of Champagne

A 1911 German card featuring a little girl riding a champagne bottle. On sale at

Two Children and Clock at Midnight

I think the cat’s gone up there to escape from these annoying Dutch kids. On sale at¬†

Two Children Celebrating the Beginning of 1927

A 1927 New Year’s card in another language—not sure which one. On sale at

A Happy New Year

This 1907 postcard features a little boy fishing for his kitty cat. How does this relate to New Years? Who knows! On sale here at

kids and cannon no year.jpg

Not sure on the year, but I guess they’re shooting luck (shamrocks) and prosperity (money) into the New Year? Maybe? Dunno. On sale at

girl at window.jpg

A little girl sits at a snowy window in this 1920 card. On sale at

A Happy New Year

Two little girls with a New Years garland, year unknown. On sale at

A Happy New Year

What a cute puppy! On sale at

Keep On Smiling All Through the Year

Some cute advice from 1917. Here at

A Good New Year and a Lucky One to You

Babies and booze, from

And now things get really strange. Really, really strange…



Why Don't You Quit January 1

What a strangely judgmental and moralizing New Years card—that may or may not feature Satan in the background! Who would send this kinda thing? There’s nothing cheery about it! On sale at

A Happy New Year

What’s happening here??? If anyone knows the folkloric background behind this image, please lemme know in the Comments. On sale at

Best Wishes for the New Year

So initially this is just some cute kid pulling out good luck signs for the new year, right? And then you see the tiny gold swastika (which was¬†an ancient good luck symbol¬†before the Nazis got ahold of it). Good thing it’s from 1913! On sale at

New Year's Greeting

A doggy family goes out for a New Year’s stroll, like you do. On sale at

A Happy New Year

Someone had a fun new year’s eve ūüėȬ†¬†Here at

A Happy New Year, Drunks with Dog

Nothing says New Years 1915 like a drunken fight with a dog over your umbrella. Here at

Happy New Year

OMG they’re BACK!¬†Damn creepy clowns. That smile….ugh.¬†And also here at


A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

OMG they’re EATING one another! And the eye contact…gah! 1907 was a strange year for cards, that’s for sure. Here at

New Year Greetin's

Annnnd now for some straight-up racism. Of course, blackface and the like was popular in 1914, but…still. Here at

Wishing You a Happy New Year

Nothing says New Years like ‘shrooms and gambling. Whoo!

Well that was creepy. Let’s end this on a nicer note. Let’s bring on the…


With New Year Greetings, Best Wishes

Aww puppies!!!! ūüėÄ

A Happy New Year

Puppy waits for the new year to chime.

A Happy New Year

And some kitties too.

Oh! What a Night

Poor hungover puppies :(. From 1912.


Hope you enjoyed these! ūüôā Want even more vintage postcards? Try this post about strange and creepy New Years cards, or this one about beautiful and funny cards.

On another note, 2016 has been a difficult year for many people, myself included. Here’s hoping 2017 will be better for all of us. Happy New Year, everyone! ūüėÄ


Posted in holiday post, link post, list post | Tagged , | Leave a comment

It’s a Wrap: Make Your Own 1920s Wrapping Paper


Hoping¬†to add some vintage flair to your holiday gifts this year? Then you’ve come to the right place! Read on and learn how to make your very own Roaring Twenties wrapping paper.


Wrapping paper was still a relatively new invention in the 1920s. As recently as 1917, Christmas gifts were wrapped in simple white, green, or red tissue paper and tied up with string—until Hallmark ran out of tissue paper one day. Forced to use “fancy decorated French envelope linings” as a substitute, the Hall brothers found that the sturdier, heavier, and fancier paper was a big seller—and modern “gift dressing,” as it was originally called, was born.


Some vintage 1920s wrapping paper that’s actually for sale on eBay! You can buy it here.


Another brightly colored example, might be 1930s however. Photo Source: Pintrest


The dog on this vintage Christmas card makes me think this might be early 1930s, but you can see that her packages are wrapped very simply. Photo Source: Pintrest 

Yet while the new wrapping paper was very popular, it¬†was also more expensive. As a result, it was mostly bought by richer people, and suited the tastes of the time—which meant they often featured¬†bold geometric Art Deco designs. According to author Susan Waggoner, wrapping papers of the time “were foiled, or incorporated metallic elements into the design,” with “geometric patterns such as diamonds, squares and plaids” featured in “strong tones” of non-traditional colors like “deep crimson, lapis lazuli, bronze, and even black-and-white”—none of which exactly screams Christmas.1 Pastel colors, like lavender, robin’s egg blue, cream, and rose, were also very popular.2 Besides odd colors, shoppers could also buy wrapping paper in “coordinated sets with embossed seals, gift tags, and tasseled cord,” making one’s gift truly stand out.3 A good idea of the range of wrapping paper options can be seen in this 1929 Marshall Fields ad from the Chicago Tribune:


This 1929 ad mentions hand-tied bows, pastel papers, “imported” paper, and odd colors. Photo Source: Tribune Archives

Actually wrapping the gift was a different matter, however. The 1920s lacked one wrapping item we take for granted these days: Scotch tape! Wrappers were forced to use these instead:


Some vintage Christmas seals. Photo Source: on Pintrest

These small, shiny 1-inch items are gummed package seals. Covered in holiday pictures with adhesive on one side, they were used to secure wrapping paper in lieu of Scotch tape. And according to Susan Waggoner, author of many vintage Christmas books, they were a nightmare to use: “To secure your package, you had to lick the seal’s gummed side, hold it in place until it stuck, and hope it didn’t fall off while you were tying the ribbon on. Seals leftover from last season had a tendency to dry out and curl up, making them especially difficult to use.”4 As you might imagine, this was a frustrating experience. Good thing many department stores were willing and ready to wrap it for free—as long as you were buying their products, anyway. These vintage ads are from Marshall Fields:


Photo Source: Tribune Archives


Photo Source: Tribune Archives

Most folks, however, opted for simple white or colored tissue paper, either decorated with extra colorful gummed seals or tied up with butcher’s paper and twine—and it’s easy to wrap your own presents just like they did.


It’s easy to make Roaring Twenties wrapping paper—and best of all, you get to use tape! ūüėÄ The following instructions, which are for making paper similar to ones from the early 1920s, are paraphrased from Susan Waggoner’s excellent book, Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas: Crafts, Decorating Tips, and Recipes, 1920s-1960s:




This vintage holy sprig stamp is on sale here.


White paper (either tissue, blank white wrapping paper, or even the other side of the wrapping paper is fine)

Red ink pad

Small holy sprig stamp 

Red satin ribbon


  1. Ink stamp and mark up white paper with holy sprigs as much as you like.
  2. Tie up with red satin ribbon and hand tie the bow.


Easy, right? ūüôā If you want more inspiration, you can see more examples of 1920s gift wrapping here, or take a look at Buzzfeed’s 1920s Christmas wishlist.

Happy holidays, everyone! ūüėÄ


A lovely 1920s holiday card. The colors really pop! Photo Source: The Vintage Traveler blog


1.Waggoner, Susan. 2009. Christmas memories: gifts, activities, fads, and fancies, 1920s-1960s. 26.‚Üź
2. Waggoner, Susan. 2011. Have yourself a very vintage Christmas. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 12.‚Üź
3. Waggoner, Susan. 2009. Christmas memories: gifts, activities, fads, and fancies, 1920s-1960s. 26.‚Üź
4. Ibid.‚Üź
Posted in holiday post | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Some Sweet Links

Hello everyone! I’m still busy hacking away at my big project, but it’s in the final stretch…so here’s a pile of Roaring Twenties-themed links for you instead of a regular post. Enjoy! ūüėÄ


Check Out Some Vintage Vogue Covers


A Vogue cover from January 15th, 1919. Check out that tiny hat! Photo Source: Vogue

A new exhibit, “1920s Jazz Age Fashion and Photographs,” has opened at the London Fashion and Textile Museum. As part of the celebration, Vogue has put up 11 vintage magazine covers on their website¬†for your enjoyment. Hooray Art Deco! ūüėÄ


Al Capone’s Gun Made it to The Mob Museum…Finally!


Capone’s gun? Maybe. Photo Source: The Mob Musuem

Lately the¬†Internal Revenue Service of the United States Treasury Department has been attempting to curry favor with the press by sending Al Capone’s gun to Las Vegas’s Mob Museum, allowing them to remind everyone that they¬†put Capone behind bars, not the FBI. At first¬†they managed to send the wrong gun, but now the correct one¬†is on display.


Eddie Bauer Revives Vintage 1936 Jacket Designs for Today’s Consumers


A pilot shows off his Skyliner jacket, circa 1938. The jackets were very popular with the United States military, as well as hunters and fishermen. Photo Source: Fast Company

In 1936, 16¬†years after he opened his first store in Seattle in 1920,¬†Eddie Bauer launched the first goose-down jacket in the United States: the Skyliner. After nearly dying of hypothermia on a fishing trip, he was inspired to create a jacket that was both waterproof and warm. The resulting jacket, based on ¬†was not only fashionable, but highly prized by outdoor lovers everywhere. Today, in celebration of its 75th anniversary, the company has relaunched it’s classic 1936 design, and it looks every bit as good today as it did then. Men’s jackets can be found here, and women’s here.


Crime Doesn’t Always Pay…But Education Does

A pair of criminal researchers from the University of Essex and the University of California recently compared 1940s census data from two groups of people. Specifically, they wanted to understand how known members of the Italian-American mafia compared to their friends and neighbors in terms of educational prospects. Unsurprisingly, they found that most identified mobsters had less schooling than their lawful counterparts—especially since many started their lives of crime at a young age. However, in an interesting twist, they found that mobsters who somehow managed to keep up with both educational and criminal pursuits won out in the end. As this article at Education Week points out:

criminal syndicates often require more complex math and logistics skills than your typical petty criminal. The most successful mobsters, like the infamous Chicago kingpin Al Capone, also ran above-board businesses, but extra years in school probably also came in handy for more nefarious purposes. How can you get your bootlegged gin from bathtub to speakeasy in the most efficient manner? Are you sure you are getting the best rate of return on your protection racket?

More education also meant more money. Not only did an educated mobster’s income increase by “7.5 percent to 8.5 percent on average,” but those involved in high-level white collar crime, like embezzling, “had a three-times-higher return on educational investment than mobsters involved in violent crimes like robberies or murders.” The rest of the article can be found here.


Listen to Vintage 1920s Tunes Revamped As Modern Jazz


Mike Jones, pianist for Penn & Teller and an accomplished musician in his own right, has a new album out. Photo Source:

Do you know who musician Mike Jones is? Turns out he’s an accomplished jazz pianist who happens to provide musical accompaniment to Penn & Teller’s classic magic¬†show in Vegas—and he’s also got a new album coming out. Called Roaring, it features vintage 1920s tunes, but redone in the style of modern jazz. You can listen to clips from the album on¬†Amazon¬†or¬†on iTunes.¬†There’s also a review here at Jazz Times.


1920s Fashion A La Harry Potter

As I’m sure you already know, this November¬†saw the U.S. release of the newest addition to Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As a result, the 1920s are currently back in fashion! You can buy an entire line of 1920s-inspired clothes¬†at Hot Topic, or sip on inspired cocktail¬†recipes over at¬†Mashable!


Want to Own a Piece of the 1920s? Buy This Building in Minneapolis for $1!


Only $1!!!! Photo Source: Finance & Commerce

The city of Minneapolis has put this building, at 4146 Fremont Avenue North, up for sale for the grand total of $1. Built during the streetcar heydays of the 1920s, this 7,000 sq. ft. building has both commerical and apartment space, and is located near a bus line. Check out those cute little brick details. Interested? Proposals are due by February 10th, 2016, but according to the article, “a pre-proposal meeting was held at 4 p.m. Nov. 30 at the City‚Äôs Innovation Center.



Posted in link post | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Plays, Pageants, and the Origin of the “First Thanksgiving” Story


These kids look *thrilled* to be in this Thanksgiving pageant :p. Photo Source:

Ask any schoolchild in America about Thanksgiving, and you’re likely to hear a story about how pilgrims and Native Americans sat down together and had a big, friendly feast. We’ve known for a long time, however, that¬†the real story of the first Thanksgiving isn’t that simple.¬†Yet, every year, tons of children across the nation enact this same scene again and again. Why is that?




Paintings like Jean Louis Gerome Ferris’ 1915 piece The First Thanksgiving, helped to cement this myth into the public consciousness. Photo Source:¬†wikipedia

The first written account of the story that we’d recognize as the First Thanksgiving comes from a letter published in 1622 by Edward Winslow, one of the original pilgrims. In it, he describes¬†how “many of the Indians coming amongst us…whom for three days we entertained and feasted…and although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty” (Baker 12). While this indeed sounds like a Thanksgiving feast, it wasn’t recognized as such until 1841, when the Reverend Alexander Young reprinted it his book Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers. Underneath a description of Winslow’s experience, Young added that “this was the first Thanksgiving, the harvest festival of New England”—making him the first person to connect the 1621 event directly to the holiday of Thanksgiving (Baker¬†13).

But nothing came of that connection, really, until the 1890s…




Schoolchildren put on a Thanksgiving pageant, circa 1923. Photo Source:

The Progressive Era saw the rise of America as a global power, rapid industrialization and urbanization, mass immigration, and increasing gaps between rich and poor—plus a major spike in fear. Many “older” Americans—i.e., white Protestants—were afraid. The America they thought they knew was changing. As a result, many of them had developed a newfound interest in Colonial times as a way to reconnect with their “true” past. According to Baker,¬†“books about life in colonial times enjoyed tremendous popularity,” new houses were built in the Georgian style, and many Americans joined together to create patriotic societies like DAR, or the Daughters of the Republic—societies which deliberately excluded recent immigrants (Applebaum 218). While they didn’t welcome the newcomers, these societies did much to “amplify and venerate the acts of the founders” and helped to “define the hallmarks of Americanism” for everyone—including new immigrants¬†(Applebaum 221).

Rapid assimilation was one way to deal with the new immigrants, and oddly enough,¬†the story of the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving seemed tailor-made for them. As James Baker notes in Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday¬†(2009), “The Pilgrims, refugees from religious persecution in Europe, were perfect models for new immigrants…sober, hardworking, God-fearing…Promulgators of the Pilgrim legend hoped or wished that the ‘wretched refuse’ of Europe’s ‘teaming shore’ immigrating to America would become as sober, hardworking, democratic and—God willing—Protestant as were the Pilgrim role models” (Baker 221). While new immigrants (and thier children) were definitely encouraged to learn and accept this story, many adopted it for themselves all on their own. Coleman says that her own mother, who came over from the Czech Republic, identified with the story. Not only were “the Pilgrims…immigrants too,” but recent immigrants could identify with “their hardship and suffering,” how both sides had to learn from one another, and found the image of friendly Native Americans “undoubtedly reassuring…[as they] hoped that Americans would likewise be friendly to them” (Coleman 72-73).

This Americanization was helped along by¬†Progressive Era schools, which included Thanksgiving as a part of a nationwide educational campaign to instill American values and history into the nation’s young people. Basically, anyone who went to school after 1890 “was exposed to an annual sequence of classroom holiday activities through which civic education and American patriotism were inculcated. As each holiday approached, pupils were taught appropriate stories and songs; set to work to cut, paste, and color decorations; and involved in class exercises that pointed up the particular significance of the occasion”¬†(Baker 116). The educational market flooded with “small, inexpensive booklets” that contained “plays, verse, pictures, and stories for the major holidays” to help them along (Baker 120). As a result, Thanksgiving became one of many holidays that was institutionalized across America, enshrined in children’s textbooks as well as classrooms.¬†By¬†1926, Thanksgiving had become, more or less, a “suitable day for worshiping the memory of the Pilgrim fathers,” with paintings, odes, and stories about Pilgrims—including pageants and plays about the First Thanksgiving. “Americans,” writes Applebaum in Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History (1984), “were force-fed Pilgrims until it was said that many wished Plymouth Rock had landed on the Pilgrims instead” (Applebaum 221).




Schoolchildren re-enact the First Thanksgiving, circa 1924. Photo Source:

What were these holiday¬†entertainments like? Thanks to the magic of HathiTrust Digital Library, we can examine a range of plays and pageants ourselves. What do we find? All kinds of strange things! These plays¬†contain agricultural goddesses, anthropomorphic personifications of pumpkins, turkeys, Pilgrims, Indians, and…goblins? Read on!

A Pageant of Pilgrims (1920) by Esther Willard Bates

While most of the items I found were for children, this particular one seems to be for adults thanks to its grand scope: tons of actors, music, songs, sets, and special lighting. Interestingly, however, it features “pilgrims of a later day” as well—i.e., immigrants—gathering around Lady Liberty in supplication.

The Romance of the Pumpkin (1920) by Edith Stouffer

More of a pageant than a play, this piece features a Grecian Spirit of the Pumpkin, who¬†shows up in all her finery and parades around spouting poetry about Thanksgiving with the help of some farmers and—I kid you not—the Goddess of Pumpkin Pie. The last half of it is pretty much an ode to “the big, yellow pumpkin, the round yellow pumpkin, the Thanksgiving pumpkin that makes such good pie,” and the virtues of said pie.

When Betty Saw the Pilgrims (1921) by Margaret Howard

Betty is a bored little girl who doesn’t want to go to Sunday School. In response, her mother launches into a rambling story about the pilgrims, ending with the first Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving Garden: A Humorous Costume Drill And Dance For Eight Children, Four Boys And Four Girls (1922) by Harriette Wilbur 

A simple, cute song-and-dance routine, complete with sheet music and costume instructions, for young children. Each child represents a different vegetable, and do a little dance while reciting a poem.

A Thanksgiving Conspiracy: A Thanksgiving Play for Grammer and Junior High Grades by Marie Irish

A widowed grandfather forbids hosting Thanksgiving of any kind…until his charming cousin comes along and changes his mind. Marie Irish seemed to write a lot of these things; Pumpkin Pie Peter is another play of hers as well—one that involves tramps stealing pies.

A Thanksgiving Dream: A One Act Play for Primary Children (1921) by Effa E. Preston

The play follows the disjointed dream of a child named Jack, who falls asleep after eating too much food on Thanksgiving and imagines he interacts with pilgrims, Native Americans, talking pumpkins, carnivorous turkeys, and goblins looking to torment “greedy young people” who ate too much, like Jack.¬†The whole thing ends with a warning to kids not to overeat on Thanksgiving. An odd little piece. ***UPDATE: I stumbled across a much older version of this play shortly after writing this post, and it’s even stranger! Not only is it from 1895, but it features a much bigger cast, many more pages, and TONS more faeries. You can find it here at HathiTrust.***

The Meaning of Thanksgiving Day: A Seasonal Play (1922) by Carolyn Wells

A bunch of Roman goddesses of the harvest are bored on Thanksgiving day, so they decide to go down to the mortal world to see what humans think Thanksgiving means to them. They meet a family¬†of six and ask them each in turn. Mother, a “housewifey type,” says she’s excited to make food for her family from the bountiful harvest: “And the mother’s face is smiling bright, with honest pride aglow, / When she views her tempting pantry shelves, with goodies all a-row!” Grandmother promotes hospitality for all, as “the good Book states.” Father says the best way to thank the harvest is “to replant our garden every year.” Son recommends conserving the harvest for the good of the nation, and Grandfather praises God. But it’s Daughter, in her “attractive sport suit,” who puts them all straight:

Thanksgiving Day’s a day of thanks, ’tis true;

But is this not a day of giving, too? Thanks-giving Day!

When that phrase you have heard,

A day of thanks uses but half the word.

Let’s use the rest! You see? A day of giving!

Isn’t that so? As true as that you’re living!

And while in gratitude you praise and pray,

Your Thanks Day should also be a Giving Day.

You see the point, you understand, I’m sure;

Give of your bounty, give it to the poor.

Give food and clothing, give them coal and wood,

Give them—Oh, give them anything that’s good!

Fill a big basket from your storeroom shelf

And carry it to somebody yourself!

Give jellies to the sick, flowers to the sad,

Give anything that will make some one glad;

Give a cash present to a needy friend,

Don’t be afraid that such things will offend,

For, if the spirit of the gift is right,

You’ll find ’twill be accepted with delight.

Get busy at this giving, every one!

There’s so much giving waiting to be done!

Let every one of us pick out some way

To put the “Giving” in Thanksgiving Day!

The Meaning of Thanksgiving Day: A Seasonal Play (1922) by Carolyn Wells, page 14


In today’s classrooms, things are a bit more balanced. While the old story is still going strong, teachers can use new¬†educational guidelines such as this one to give a more nuanced view of the history behind¬†Thanksgiving—including the fact that Native Americans aren’t necessarily a fan of this holiday. However, whether the history behind it is true or not, the feelings Thanksgiving tries to foster in Americans–togetherness, generosity, thankfulness—are something we could all use more of that these days.

So in light of that, let me wish you all…


Photo Source: Pintrest


Works Cited:
Colman, Penny. 2008. Thanksgiving: the true story. New York: Henry Holt.
Baker, James W. 2009. Thanksgiving: the biography of an American holiday. Durham, New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire Press.
Appelbaum, Diana Karter. 1984. Thanksgiving: an American holiday, an American history. New York, N.Y.: Facts On File.
Posted in holiday post | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

How to Make a REAL 1920s Halloween Costume…if you dare!

flapper pumpkin

1920s German flapper pumpkin! Photo Source: Yahoo Images/Pintrest

Before mass-produced costumes entered the scene, Halloween costumes were a lot more…creative. Forced to make their own masks, dresses, and props–often using highly questionable crafting skills—adults and children across the nation created costumes that were creative, bizarre, and often a LOT more scary than ones we see today. Want to tap into a wellspring of vintage creativity this Halloween? Then ditch those tacky flapper and gangster costumes and follow these steps to create a truly authentic 1920s Halloween costume…



Guess what the most popular costume choice was during the 1920s? Oddly enough, it’s the one that we’ll probably see stalking the streets this year—only it won’t be this cute:


Isn’t she cute? Photo Source: vintage every day

Clowns! Costumes of Perriot clowns in particularthe white and black mimes with sad faces—were all the rage during the 1920s with both men and women.

Check out this cute couple:


This is a nice vintage Halloween shot. Check out her candle, the basket of walnuts, and the lacy tablecloth—definitely a homemade Halloween party! Photo Source: vintage every day

Kids got in on the act, too:


They don’t seem to like their costumes much, though. Photo Source: Pintrest UK


Neither do these kids! Photo Source: vintage every day

Don’t want to be a clown? If you’re a woman, you could always go the witch route. The shapeless drop-waist dresses and skirts popular during the Roaring Twenties lent themselves easily to witch costumes, so they were pretty easy to manage. Throw on a plain black dress and a pointy hat, and ta-dah, you’re a witch!


A homemade witch costume from the 1920s. Photo Source: vintage every day

But maybe standard fare isn’t for you. Maybe you want something more topical. So why not go as…the Spirit of St. Louis?


And they say that topical costumes didn’t exist until the 1970s. Lies! Photo Source: vixenvintage at Photobucket

If none of these costume ideas work for you, though, you could always buy one. While everything I read said that true mass-produced costumes didn’t exist until the 1930s, I found evidence of them being sold in department stores during the mid to late 1920s. Both of these Chicago Tribune ads sell Halloween costumes:


This October 24th, 1926 ad shows us that mass-produced costumes existed in some fashion during the late 1920s. Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives


This ad fromOctober 20th, 1929 gives an idea of other popular costume ideas. Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

So, you could buy a costume. This makes sense, too, seeing as it was the 1920s that saw the birth of Halloween parties, particularly among the rich and middle class, that often required one come in costume. It seems people had more fun making their own costumes, however—and to do that, they used stuff like…



As I’ve said in other holiday posts, crepe paper was BIG during the 1920s. Every single thing I’ve seen regarding holiday decorating in the Chicago Tribune during that time mentions crepe paper. Apparently, people were really, really excited about it—and popular booklets like The Bogie Book (1926) helped to spread the love. Created by paper product supplier Dennison Manufacturing Company, the book demonstrates how crepe paper could be used to make Halloween costumes, decorations, and many other things. Their book featured charming costumes for adults and children, all supposedly made out of crepe paper. Take a look:


The costumes are as follows: Devil (1), Witch (2), Fairy (3), Baby Pumpkin (4), Clown (5) Photo Source: The Bogie Book, 1926, HathiTrust Digital Library


The costumes are as follows: Soldier (6), Cat (7), Imp (8), Child (9), general Hallowe’en Slip-Over (10). Photo Source: The Bogie Book, 1926, HaithiTrust Digital

And these lovely detailed things were made out of paper. Paper!!!

Crepe paper wasn’t a horrible choice of material, however. Not only was it light, cheap, colorful, and fairly plentiful, it actually held up pretty well to rough play—provided you didn’t get it wet—which made it excellent for children’s costumes.

It was also useful for making “slip-over” costumes, which, as the name implies, allowed one to slip the costume over regular clothing, leaving a hole for one’s head, then tie it at the waist, creating something a bit like a poncho with a belt. Thanks to its ease of wear, this style of costume was particularly popular with young children. As the Bogie Book tells us, “the slip-over is the most popular kind of costume because it is so simple and inexpensive to make and because it is equally appropriate for either girls or boys.” However, as you may have noticed—literally none of the costumes above look like a simple slip-over! That’s because their simple bases have been heavily embellished by professional designers (I doubt anyone actually succeeded in making them look like these drawings). To understand better how these costumes were constructed, check out this pattern for a rose costume from another Dennison book, How to Make Paper Costumes:


See how this costume starts with a simple base and moves on to something more complicated? Photo Source: How to Make Paper Costumes, 1922, HathiTrust Digital

If you were willing and able to sew fabric, however, your Halloween costume options increased dramatically. Check out these lovely sewn examples:


These costumes for men and women are interesting and unusual from a design standpoint, compared to today—check out the bat! Photo Source: Pintrest


More patterns from the 1920s. There’s even a Red Cross Nurse!  Photo Source: Vintage Every Day

Clothing was only part of your costume, however. What about a mask?



Before the advent of mass-produced masks, people made their own masks out of paper mache and fabric. Thanks to questionable crafting ability, these often turned out looking probably waaaay more creepy than intended. Check these scary photos from the 1930s:



Some creepy kids having a Halloween seance. I think the one on the far right is a duck? Photo Source: An Appendage Blog


Creepy! Photo Source: Vintage Every Day


Yeah, that’s a nope. Photo Source: vintage every day



While some of these costumes are definitely racist, the range of roles—clowns, Native Americans, policemen—are interesting. Photo Source: An Appendage Blog


I think it’s a ghost? Maybe? Or a Satanic alchemist, it’s hard to tell. Photo Source: vintage every day


Little Halloween People my ass. Try little creepy people! Photo Source: vintage every day

But if you didn’t want to use paper mache, you had another option: yet MORE crepe paper! (Sensing a theme yet?) These freaky-looking crepe paper masks come from The Bogie Book:


Mirth-provoking? I think not! Photo Source: The Bogie Book, 1926, HathiTrust Digital Library

Want to make your own mask? Try these instructions at for a basic face mask, or these ones at for more elaborate, sculpted masks.



Now that you have a costume, you’re ready to out and have fun! During the 1920s, children roamed the streets in costume, burning stuff and trashing the place, until adults instituted more controlled celebrations in the form of parties and events at schools, churches, and other public areas, as well as at home. Adults, meanwhile, went to fun, lavish costume parties, full of dancing, festive treats, and party games. All ages enjoyed showing off their costumes and playing at being someone else for the night.

Hopefully you will, too! ūüôā Happy Halloween!!!! ūüėÄ




This hilarious costume awaits you at the following links!

Want more crazy Halloween costume photos? Then try this post, this post, this post, and this post for more fun. Happy Halloween, everybody! ūüėÄ


Posted in holiday post, list post | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments