Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Fashion Treasure from the 1920’s

It’s time for another treasure that I have brought to the West Coast.  This is the type of thing my father paid a dollar or two for around 1970.  I remember it hanging on the wall back in our Victorian in Buffalo.  It moved with us to the house on Cape Cod.  There the elements were tough on it.  Even indoors, when you have an old house between a salt marsh and the beach, everything is damp.  Unfortunately this piece has some serious foxing issues. 

It’s pencil and gouache on paper.  I suspect it may have been cut from a sketchbook.  The size is 7” wide x 14” high. Signed in pencil on the front.  There are framing instructions on the back in pencil in the artist’s hand.  Who was Violet Gene Schwender who signed this rather lovely fashion rendering from the 1920’s? 

Sometimes a bit of internet searching makes one feel merely frustrated and teased.  I want to see more of her images like this one. I did learn that Violet Schwender was the artist’s maiden name.  Violet Gordon lived a long life, passing away in 2005 at the age of 1998.  To think, if I had looked into this a bit sooner, I could have asked the artist herself. 

I learned she was well known in Buffalo as a local artist, but Violet Schwender Gordon was also a teacher of Fashion and Design in the New York State University system.  She even wrote the book (which I can find no record of online) that was used as the basis of the university system’s curriculum.  Somewhere, I hope there is an archive that has a treasure trove of more of her fashion renderings.  Maybe one day I’ll get o see it, and in the meantime I need to look into restoring this one.

On another note, a little bit more about the framing -

When I pulled apart the original frame I found that the only backing that was used was some cardboard from a product called Chase’s Domino Mints that promised:

Chase’s Domino Mints are Strictly Quality mints, and are in a class all by themselves—Not an ounce of glucose, starch or other adulterants used, thus leaving no unpleasant “after-taste.”  A few Chase’s Mints every day chases all indigestion away.

90 years ago it was candy that claimed to be medicinal.  Nowadays we have other medicinal sweets here in California.  It seems Chase’s is still business, but there is no mention of the mints on their website.  

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