Thursday 23 February 2017

Weldon's Practical Needlework

I was going to write a PS to my last post, but then I thought. "Who reads a PS?"  Probably no-one who's already read the original post.   So I'll write a new post.

Weldon's Practical Crochet, 15th Series, No. 77 in the Practical Needlework series.
 In my last post, I was speculating about the date of this Weldon's Practical Needlework magazine,  recently donated to the Knitting & Crochet Guild, which had ads from the First World War inside, but I thought was much earlier.  I suggested that it might have been originally published about 1895, but kept in print for much longer - and obviously the ads could be updated for every reprint. Hence, 1890s patterns, but WW1 ads.

Then I remembered that Richard Rutt wrote an appendix to his History of Hand Knitting giving publications dates for Weldon's Practical Needlework issues, up to July 1915, when they started to be dated.  Actually, he only gives dates for issues in the Practical Knitting sub-series (he's writing about hand-knitting, after all, and not crochet or macrame or millinery or any of the other things covered in Practical Needlework).  But all the issues were numbered consecutively, and then given another number within their sub-series - so the issue illustrated above was the 77th Practical Needlework issue, and the 15th in the Practical Crochet sub-series.  (Confusingly, this is expressed as "Fifteenth Series" on the cover.)  So we can use the appendix to date all the Practical Needlework issues, not just the knitting ones.  

It's quite simple actually - each volume of 12 issues corresponded to a year, and Rutt dates volume 1 to 1886, so volume 7 is 1892.  And if we want to be precise, No. 77 was first published in May 1892 (because 77 = 12 x 6 + 5).

I don't know whether Rutt counted backwards from the dated issues. or whether he had other evidence too.  But it certainly works by counting backwards.  Here's No. 395, in volume 33.

Weldon's Practical Crochet, 180th Series, No. 395 in the Practical Needlework series.

It's dated November 1918 - that's the '11/18' in the bottom left corner.  (Click on the image to enlarge it.)  And extending Rutt's list of volumes and years, volume 33 does correspond to 1918.  And No. 395 would be the November issue (395 = 32 x 12 + 11).

The magazine continued with only a change of title font into the 1920s.

Weldon's Practical Needlework, No. 478.  
 This issue on Tea Cosies is dated October 1925. (You'll have to trust me on that - the pages are bigger than A4 and when I scanned the cover the date got missed off.)  And again the arithmetic works out - it's volume 40 (so 1925) and issue No. 478 (= 12 x 39 + 10).  In spite of the change of font, the cover design must have been looking very old-fashioned by 1925.  There was a redesign shortly afterwards, and the series then continued - in fact, it was still being published after the Second World War, though then as a Practical Knitting series only.

There's one problem with Richard Rutt's list of dates:  the British Library catalogue says that the Weldon's Practical Needlework series started in 1888.   Hmmm.   One possible explanation for the difference is that I think the British library has the bound annual volumes, not the monthly separate issues.  (Weldon's sold both - and if you can sell it as a monthly magazine and a yearly volume as well, why not?)   You can't produce an annual volume until you have all 12 separate numbers, and maybe volume 1 didn't appear until 1888.  And it has been known for the British Library catalogue to assign the wrong date to undated 19th century publications.  So I'm putting my money on the dates given by Richard Rutt.


  1. Thank you for the helpful information - I'd been trying to establish the publication dates of some issues I'm cataloging. Best wishes in all your creative endeavors -Leigh

    1. Good to hear that you found it useful. Good luck with your bibliography project.


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