I was paging quickly through a battered copy of "Frye's Elements of Geography" (published circa 1902), trying to find something interesting to write about on the blog. The book was in really rough condition, with multiple pages missing and numerous ripped, scissored or otherwise damaged pages. There was one nice illustration that caught my eye1, but, other than that, the book seemed destined for the trash can instead of the blog. Its usefulness had expired.
But then something caught my eye. A flash of color.
Tucked far back between a pair of pages, near the spine, was a purple piece of thread. Interesting for sure, but not terribly notable all by itself.
Then I started noticing more things.
I slowed down and went through the book page by page, opening it wide to find the treasures tucked in near the spine.
The final tally, after everything was extracted and unfolded:
- 9 small labels for embroidery thread, age unknown
- 4 old pins
- 5 strands of colorful embroidery thread, of varying lengths
I dug up some more information about the companies mentioned on two of the embroidery-thread labels:
Cynthia Mills: The silver tags are for four different colors of thread -- 751, 657, 484 and 750. The information on the tags includes:
- DO NOT REMOVE THIS TAG
- CYNTHIA MILLS
- PAT. NO. 1,592,432 (see Footnote 2)
- PULL FROM THIS END
- CYNTHIA PULL-SKEIN
- SIX STRAND
- ARTICLE 1170 - 9 YDS.
In a statement dated Dec. 29, 1917, and appearing in "America's Textile Reporter," Cynthia Mills is listed as being located at 16 New Street in East Boston. Here's the full financial statement, pulled from Google Books:
Clark's O.N.T.: These light-yellow tags are for three different colors of thread -- 182, 38 and 1. The information on the tags includes:
- PULL OUT LONG END
- DO NOT REMOVE THIS BAND
- CLARK'S O.N.T.
- 6 STRAND COTTON
- 8 YARDS
O.N.T. stands for "Our New Thread" and the brand dates to the mid 1800s. Given the era of its prominence, it's not surprising that there are numerous Victorian trade cards for O.N.T. that can be easily found online.
Clark Thread Co. is now known as Coats PLC.
1. Here's that one illustration that I thought was pretty cool. The caption states: "Iron Works, Pennsylvania. NOTE: -- The picture shows a huge retort in which hot air is being forced through liquid iron, changing it to steel."
2. Patent number 1,592,432 was filed by John L. Barry on October 1, 1924, and published on July 13, 1926 (which helps to date these materials, a little bit). You can read all four pages of Barry's patent application on this PDF.
3. Here's an excerpt from 1922's "History of American textiles: with kindred and auxiliary industries":
"A prominent firm in the textile industry is that of Harding, Tilton & Company which acts as selling agents for several of the largest mills in the country and which has its principal offices at Boston, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. This Company specializes in handling yarns and grey goods. It was established in 1909 by Mr. Charles L. Harding, of Boston, and Mr. Newell W. Tilton, of New York. Mr. Harding was formerly connected with the firm of Harding, Whitman & Company of New York and Boston. ...
"The cotton goods which are sold by Harding, Tilton & Co. are manufactured by the Whitman, Gosnold and Page mills of New Bedford. The cotton yarns are the products of the Holmes and Fairhaven Mills of New Bedford, the Nyanza Mills of Woonsocket and the Cynthia Mills of East Boston. The worsted yarns are manufactured at Woonsocket by the Samoset Mills, and at Dedham, Mass., by the Dedham Worsted. ...
"These mills represent a combined working capital of about $25,000,000 and give employment to about 9000 hands."