An assortment of coats

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What it is:

Four photos, one measuring 5.75 x 3.5 inches, the others averaging 2.5 x 3.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Top photo:  names written on the back identify people as (top row) Elsie, Alex, Pop, Mom, Helen, Walter, (kneeling) Herman, Herman Jr., and the dog Mendy, with the family name Ruchs written in a different hand.  Bottom left:  semi-legible photo processing date stamp is dated July 1938.  Bottom center:  no information.  Bottom right:  written on the back is the bride + I / “Tum” + I.


The weather here in San Francisco finally took a turn for the chilly this weekend, so I guess winter (or what passes for winter here) is on the way.  So what was on my mind?  Coats!  (Among other things, of course.)  Normally when I look at my photos, my attention is drawn first to the faces.  But with these photos, I have to admit I am distracted first by the coats.  The ones in the top photo I find especially beautiful.  I realize these are from different decades, but I thought they might make a fun grouping.  Now notice the young woman in the lower right.  I’m pretty certain that’s our actress from yesterday’s nurse photos.  At first I was concerned about her white shoes and stockings, thinking maybe she really is a nurse after all, until I saw that all three bottom photos show women similarly shod.  I even speculated that the woman with her is the other actress, but I think they just look similar.  I assume that the “and I” written on the back refers to her (since I assume these photos of her were hers), so the woman with her is both the “bride” and the woman nicknamed “Tum”.  Tum I can see, but “bride”?  Was this a weekend during which she got married?  Is she also an actress nicknamed Tum who played a bride?  Perhaps in the nurse play?  In which case, perhaps our actress is wearing her nurse costume under that coat, hence the white shoes and stockings?   I suppose I’m reading too much into this, but that’s where my mind goes when I stare at these pictures long enough.

7 comments on “An assortment of coats”

  1. Thanks for posting another photo of the actress! It’s interesting to see the styles of the coats. I am especially surprised by the coat on the second lady from the left in the top photo. The sleeves look pretty long, so I wonder if that was in style at the time. I think the sleeves on the ladies in the middle photo on the bottom row look rather long as well. Hmm, perhaps I don’t have to get my winter coat altered!

    • I’m really not qualified to comment on the clothing styles, so hopefully somebody else will have something to say about the sleeve lengths. But as for getting your winter coat altered, I suppose it’s a handy thing that we can always find justifications for our actions in the examples of our predecessors. 🙂

  2. I would love some of those jackets and hats for some fun photo shoots 🙂

    • That would be a blast! Are there any community theaters in your area? Sometimes they will have old costumes in storage that you could borrow or rent for something like that.

  3. I found one coat picture that may confirm my suspicion that the top photo is circa 1910, but maybe someone more expert will post. In the meantime, here’s an awesome 1910 poster for coats (unfortunately fur, but hopefully not made from endangered species, as the leopard pictured was obviously not “coated”).

    I’m going to take a risk and guess that the center-bottom photo is circa 1924. I’ve found a few similar styles of coats in the 1924 section of my book of Sears’ catalog styles of the 1920’s, as well as an industry catalogue for coats from 1924. (That I found in someone else’s blog of ephemera.) Anyone have other ideas?

    • Thanks for the info and the links! Your estimates of the dates are about what I was thinking, too. Just so you know, WordPress makes me “approve” comments with links first, presumably to avoid spam, even from somebody whose comments are normally approved automatically. I will always approve yours, of course, but I wanted to give you a heads-up in case you post one and I’m away from my computer for a while.

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