Saturday 19 January 2013

Tuppence Coloured

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about sorting all the Robin leaflets in the Lee Mills collection.  Some of them are worth sharing, especially the earliest leaflets, which are very charming. 

They date from the late 1930s or early 1940s, I think - the earliest ones that we have are children's, and I can't date them very precisely.  The cover illustrations are black-and-white photos that at some stage in the process were hand-coloured.  This was common for pattern leaflets through to the 1950s (when colour photography took over), sometimes with rather nasty results.  But these are very attractive - just the knitted garment is coloured, as well as some of the lettering and the Robin logo, leaving the rest in black-and-white.

Robin 171

We have two patterns for little girls' dresses, called Mary and Margaret.   Both are knitted in Robin Perle, which was artificial silk (rayon), with angora trim.  (It is all just very very charming.)  The Mary dress has a quite complicated construction - it is knitted from the top down, with godets, or triangular inserts, to create fullness in the skirt.  (The dress is coloured a very pale blue, which doesn't show up well.)  The godets are in stocking stitch, outlined in eyelets from the yarn-over increases, and are separated by strips of reverse stocking stitch. The alternating stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch give the pleated effect, like a very wide rib.  In the Margaret dress, the skirt and sleeves are knitted in a lacy stitch, and the yoke is alternating stripes of art. silk and angora, with buttons down the front.  Both dresses are very short and so have a pair of matching "trunk knickers".

Robin 74 - Mary

Robin 77 - Margaret

Tuppence coloured?  The leaflets indeed cost tuppence (2d, in old money) - the price is inside, rather than on the cover, where it usually is.  But I don't suppose that there was a "penny plain" black-and-white version.

We have several copies of the Mary and Margaret leaflets and, astonishingly, all the copies are different colours.  I can't imagine how this was an economic way of producing the leaflets.  At what stage was the colouring done?  Did they produce the patterns in very small batches?  No idea.  But they are really pretty.

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