Monday, 16 October 2017

Dating Fancy Needlework Illustrated


Over 150 numbers of the Fancy Needlework Illustrated magazine were published before the Second World War.  The Knitting & Crochet Guild collection has about 75% of them, including the very first number (though it's a bit tatty).

Fancy Needlework Illustrated no. 1

I've been assigning a date to each number - they don't have publication dates on them, but fortunately there is enough other evidence to work out when they were published. (And if you want to get straight to the dates, there's a table at the bottom of this post.)

One helpful clue is that the magazine ran regular needlework competitions, and many of our copies still have an entry coupon inside.  The closing date for entries to the competition gives a rough idea of when the coupon (and so the magazine) was printed.  That was all the information I had for a long time.  But then I noticed that the early numbers have a "To Our Readers" introductory piece that sometimes said when the next number would be published.   (Yes, I do occasionally read some of the publications in the collection, as well as sorting and listing them.)

From these introductions, I found that no. 3 was published on  February 1st 1907 and no. 5 on February 1st 1908.  I don't know definitely when numbers 1 and 2 were published, but I guess that they both appeared in 1906.

From 1908, the magazine was published quarterly, on February 1st, June 1st, September 1st and December 1st.   It seems that the first few numbers were published less frequently, to test the market, but they must have sold well enough to commit to publishing more often. 

Although the first number listed knitting as one of the crafts covered by Fancy Needlework Illustrated, the early numbers focus mainly on embroidery and crochet, with very little knitting. But fashions were changing, with sports coats for women becoming popular around 1910.  Fancy Needlework Illustrated followed the trend, and showed a sports coat on the cover of number 24 in December 1912.
Fancy Needlework lllustrated no. 24
In the 1920s, jumpers for women became very fashionable, and the covers of the magazine often showed several jumper designs, like number 59, published in September 1921.

Fancy Needlework Illustrated no. 59
One of the cover jumpers from no. 59 appeared in a newspaper ad the following month (so confirming the date).  The ad promoted the competition run by the magazine: "Every needlewoman in the country should put her skill to the test by entering for this Great Competition. It is open to all, and has appeal for those practically minded as well as for those of more artistic ideas. For your Jumper, or for your Embroidery, you may receive a prize of £20."  The ad was apparently placed by Ardern's, a cotton spinning company that seems to have been one of the backers of Fancy Needlework Illustrated.




In 1923, colour was introduced for the cover of the magazine.  The first colour number was either 65 (which we don't have) or 66.


The colour covers are very attractive - they show an idealised view of some of the designs featured inside. The patterns themselves are illustrated with black-and-white photographs, so the models are real women and not the attenuated creatures on the cover.  (As with the Bexhill jumper from no. 75.)

From 1929, the magazine was published 6 times a year, in January, March, May, July, September and November.  The new dates in fact began with no. 88, which was published on 1st November 1928, rather than 1st December. 

In the 1930s, the magazine focused much more on embroidery, with little crochet and less knitting, so the contents are less interesting for the Guild, and quite a few of the numbers are missing from the collection.  No. 134 (from July 1936) is unusual for that period in having knitted and crocheted garments pictured on the cover, below.  Fancy Needlework Illustrated was still backed by cotton spinning companies, and so the 1930s fashion for knitted woollies was passing it by.  No. 134 is headed "Smart Designs for Knitted & Crocheted Summer Garments" - clearly cotton is more suited to summer than winter clothes.


Fancy Needlework Illustrated No. 134

The restriction to cotton changed shortly afterwards when Weldon's took over the magazine.  They changed the design of the cover and started to include designs for other fibres, particularly wool.  No. 139 (below) is a Weldon's number, published in May 1937 at the time of George VI's coronation.

Fancy Needlework Illustrated no. 139

After the end of 1939, the title of the magazine changed to Needlework Illustrated. Numbers continued to appear 6 times a year, and the numbering continued too: no. 154 of Fancy Needlework Illustrated appeared in November 1939, and no. 155 of Needlework Illustrated in January 1940.  I've found another blogger who has dated the issues of Needlework Illustrated here, so I don't need to do that. 

So now, if you have a copy of Fancy Needlework Illustrated, you can date it exactly - except for numbers 1, 2 and 4 where I'm sure of the year of publication but not the month.  The table below lists the numbers published in each year.  You're welcome.

1906
1,2

1923
65-68
1907
3,4
1924
69-72
1908
5-8
1925
73-76
1909
9-12
1926
77-80
1910
13-16
1927
81-84
1911
17-20
1928
85-88
1912
21-24
1929
89-94
1913
25-28
1930
95-100
1914
29-32
1931
101-106
1915
33-36
1932
107-112
1916
37-40
1933
113-118
1917
41-44
1934
119-125
1918
45-48
1935
126-130
1919
49-52
1936
131-136
1920
53-56
1937
137-142
1921
57-60
1938
143-148
1922
61-64
1939
149-154

5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I've been keeping an eager eye out for this post, Barbara, and you haven't disappointed!

    The dating is very useful, as I've got copies 2,19, 29, 35, 107, 109 and 113.I found the later ones more easier to date with the competition inserts, but the earlier ones were trickier.

    I've looked through my copy of No. 2, which I agree is from 1906. However, in my copy there's an advertisement flyer, which appears to have been originally included in the magazine. The flyer mentions that: 'The First Christmas Number of 'Needlecraft' Will Be Published in Early November 1906'.

    I'm guessing that No.2 may be been have printed September - October, which would tie in with the advert's November announcement. Hope this helps :-)

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    1. I'm pleased you found the dates useful. The flyer advertising the Needlecraft Christmas number is interesting. Needlecraft and Fancy Needlework Illustrated must have been rivals for the same readership, for one thing. I was thinking that No. 2 of Fancy Needlework Illustrated might have been published at the beginning of August 1906, giving a 6 month interval. That might still tie in with announcing an early November publication date, do you think?

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  3. Good work!! Thanks so much! I was trying to date #132 vol II... this one had the crochet bra instructions. 1936, right? You saved me alot of research. I really appreciate you sharing your dating method. Impressive.

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    Replies
    1. I'm really passed to hear that you found the dates useful. We do have number 132 in the Guild collection - and we have a couple of crocheted bras, too - so I shall have to take another look.

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