In 1837 Augustus Siebe, German born but living in England, developed a Diving Helmet which sealed airtight to a rubber suit. The closed suit connected to an air pump on the surface and thus became the first effective standard diving wear of its time. Rewarding Siebe with the moniker “father of deep sea diving”.
Founded by Augustus Siebe and his son in law Gorman, Siebe Gorman and Co. were a British company that developed diving and breathing equipment designed for commercial diving and marine salvage projects. The Augustus Siebe helmet gained a reputation for safety during its use on the wreck of the Royal George in 1840. The combination of safety and design features became the standard for helmet construction throughout the world, some of which were incorporated into the design of modern-day space suits.
Slightly obsessed with these first generation of deep sea divers – in our minds every bit as courageous as those later men and women that would take on the challenge of Space Travel. It was with great pleasure that a recent buying trip to France uncovered this fine collection of diving wear. Dealing with the bends, poor visibility, restricted movement and the fear of unknown sea monsters and giant squid – the experience of the sheer claustrophobia of a 19th century diving suit was in some small way improved by the matching Submariner knit, scarf, long johns and sea socks – all bearing the Siebe Gorman helmet logo.
What can be more appropriate at this time of year than the autumnal shades of a Harris Tweed two-piece gamekeeper suit. A traditional Scottish design it features distinctive styling such as the cut away front, a shorter body length and the scalloped and glove stitched pocket flaps. Partnered with a kilt and sporran it conjures up images from the film Mrs. Brown or The Shooting Party.
Interestingly the jacket shape is not too dissimilar to some of Vivienne Westwoods House of Mud designs, even some of Christopher Nemeth’s creations. Very Buffalo!
Whilst it Our recent attentions have temporarily turned in favour of preparing to launch the SHOWROOM Publication Vol.II. Yep, it’s with the printers and will be in stores in the not too distant future. For those unfamiliar with this, last year we published a ‘conceptual mood and reference’ project packed full of moody style shoots, obscure scribings and curious doodlings. Such was the fantastic reception, we did it again.
Alas!, more on that later as we gather momentum by revisiting the archive of Lawrence W Dagger. Dubious 1920s New York detective/Steak House owner Larry Dagger first came to our attention when Douglas Gunn returned from a buying trip to America. In a grubby plastic bag buried at the bottom of a heap in a junk shop, he found an extensive, seemingly autobiographical, scrapbook detailing the extraordinary life and times of a quite remarkable character. Douglas’ account of the file is prominently featured in SHOWROOM Vol.II. (Vol.I is available to order here).
Here is a closer look at the mugshots and criminal identity cards that made up such an interesting part of the archive.
A recent Vintage Showroom find – A 1940s running vest and wool warm-up sweatshirt from the University of Washington.
Before the expression Type II became fashionable, denim afficionado’s and those in the know simply referred to this classic Levi’s 507XX jacket as a Number Two. Number One being the first model and having one pocket, Number Two being the second and having, you guessed it, two pockets.
Simple as that, 1,2, 3, bish bosh.*
Not dissimilar looking to a Victorian torture device, we recently stumbled across this leather coursing leash. The device is designed to quick-release sight-hunting canines (as opposed to scent-hunters) to capture and kill ‘game’. It is, oddly, rather intriguing and a perversely attractive form.
The collars of the leash are held in place by a split-pin attached to a length of cord which runs through the main leash, out the other end and attached to handle. Pulling the handle will pull the split-pin out of the fitting and thus releasing the two dog-collars (photo illustrations below), freeing the dogs to go off and do their worst.
Everest pictures and Yetis, what more could you want from a post! Some two years before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first (confirmed for all you Mallory enthusiasts) climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, a small team including Hillary in the party made a Reconnaisance Expedition to Everest. Captured here in this recent find from a Times Special Supplement in 1951 we thought we should share…
Autumn 1951, The Himalayan Committee of The Royal Geographical Society and the Alpine Club sent a small party to investigate the south-western aspect of Mount Everest. As a side of the mountains that can only be approached through Nepal, this had meant rare privilege for the team to be granted access by the government.
Whilst the idea of looking for a way to approach to south-western face was not new, how far it had been entertained by the earlier expeditions of the 1920s is unclear but after the discovery in 1921 by Mallory and his companions of what appeared to be a relatively straight forward route to the summit from the East Rongbuk glacier, little serious thought seems to have been recorded in finding another line of approach. Step by step, as the Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition thrust and cut it its way towards the ramparts of the most impregnable fortress on earth, Mr Eric Shipton, the leader, sent back his progress reports for publication in The Times.
It was never the intention of Shipton’s party, of four English climbers and two New Zealanders, to attempt to climb the great peak itself. Everest is the ‘inner keep’, or donjon, of a gigantic system of fortifications, in which each ward beyond ward, has to be successfully overcome. Even the outermost ramparts have to be approached through many miles of rugged and trackless country, so that any attack must be planned with strategic elaboration parallel to a great military operation – and with the same impossibility of precision since the opponents dispositions are imperfectly unknown. Victory cannot be expected in a single campaign…
Established in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1866 by Civil War veteren Charles Masland – the business was making carpets, including, throughout the 1920s, carpets for the groundbraking Model T Ford cars. Carpeting remained the primary business until 1940, a year before the US joined WWII, when its mills were turned over to the war effort and the production of various canvases and foul weather gear for military use. For this, it even scooped the Board of the Army and Navy’s Excellence Award.
Post-war production eventually returned to carpeting (mid-1950s) but not before Masland successfully turned his looms to the making of outdoorswear, a continuation from the war featuring military touches – the cotton duck fabric is reinforced using leather and suede patches on all the usual ‘heavy-wear’ area’s (cuffs, knees, elbows etc). The mid-1950s saw the company start to trade outdoors-wear under the name of Wood + Stream.
This recent cache of the complete volumes of The West End System of Cutting offers a fascinating insight into the ins and outs, the do’s and dont’s, and pitfalls of late Victorian tailoring. Informative engravings guide you through the difficulties of cutting for ‘disproportionate figures’, the corpulent body and those of a ‘large seat’!
Some of these late Victorian styles of cutaway jackets are now making a comeback thanks to Mister Freedom and the Victorian Gaucho-cum-street urchin look, riding on the tail coat of Steam Punk.
(Look out for an Oscar Wilde lookalike in Engraving V looking particularly Aesthetic in a double breasted lounge suit type affair).
Or, the funny little patterns that emerge in old Indian blankets if you stare at them long enough. A colourful cornucopia of squares, crosses, zig-zags, and triangles in bold graduated colourways that make these so graphically appealing, and sometimes mesmeric.
Virtually a Ralph trademark for years, others are now latching on to their beauty, and they still provide inspiration for many designers, even Dr Martens have recently collaborated with Pendleton Woolen Mills.
In the right interior setting they seem to evoke a nostalgia for a bygone era of pioneers, settlers, traders and tribes, a Romanticism of the American Old West, of bedroll campfires, cosy log cabins, even the decor of the Overlook Hotel.*
Here’s a nice Sealed Pattern Royal navy jumper, smock, crackerjack top dating from the First World War, or to give it it’s proper name ‘Jumper, Duck’, referring to the heavy linen sail cloth it is made from. This is the garment template, the quality standard from which issued items had to adhere to, and seems to originate from ‘Experimental Establishments, Woolwich and Shoeburyness’. It bears the large linen labels and wax seals of the Clothing Inspection Department and judging by the dates it stayed in War Department stores from 1920 to 1961.
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