Catalog Highlight | Warm Weather Specialties | Todd-Smith & Co. 1906
This is the most pristine antique catalog I have ever come across. Still in its original mailing envelope, it also includes the order form and return envelope inside. The pages are clean and free of any discoloration or tears.
It is fairly short but includes some beautiful illustrations, so I thought it would be a good catalog to start with in this series.
Each week, I will be uploading several photos of an antique catalog, magazine, or newspaper from my personal collection, along with some brief descriptions of a few of the details that stand out to me.
Let me know in the comments what you think!
A beautiful cover image
Antique catalogs often have beautiful cover images, and some of my favorites come from the early 1900s. I love the delicate rose border on this 1906 Todd-Smith & Co. catalog.
Todd-Smith & Co. (also Todd, Smith & Co.) was a clothing company for women and children that was in operation from around 1901 to 1909. Though I cannot find any official information on the company, the first mention of them I could find was an advertisement from a 1901 issue of The Champion, a Norton, Kansas newspaper.
1901 newspaper clipping, the first mention of Todd-Smith & Co. I could find
The above hat certainly does look fancy, and $1.95 sounds like a bargain to me. A couple of inflation calculators I found online give an equivalent value of between $50-60 in today’s money.
Catalog envelope - addressed to a Mrs. Effie J. Wilder
"Ladies' Jackets for the Cool Evenings and Early Fall."
"No. 1C164. Ladies' Silk Eton Jacket"
"Shirt Waist Suits"
A "Ladies' Tape Girdle Corset with Hose Supporters" and a "Ladies' Blouser"
This “Ladies’ Blouser” looks to be a bust enhancer that would help women achieve the signature S-bend corset silhouette popularized by the Gibson Girls of artist Charles Dana Gibson. Some padding in the front did wonders for enhancing the illusion.
By the way, I learned something new today. According to Merriam-Webster, “Natty” means: trimly neat and tidy. Dictionary.com says: neatly or trimly smart in dress or appearance; spruce.
"A Ladies' Fancy Waist"
"New Belts, Collars and Bags"
"Ladies' Kimonos, Two-Piece House Dresses and Dressing Sacques"
"A Ladies' Jaunty Rolled Brim, Telescope College Sailor"
"New Styles of Dresses for the Little Ones, Made to Withstand the Rough Usage of a Child."
"Five Extraordinary Shirt Waist Values"
I hope you enjoyed seeing some of this lovely Edwardian catalog! I’m not sure what became of Todd-Smith & Co., but I did find an interesting article from 1909, the last year I could find mention of the company, about a suspicious fire in the Kesner Building in Chicago, where Todd-Smith & Co. had offices.
Although there were several companies doing business out of the Kesner Building, one article I found suggests that Todd-Smith & Co. suffered the biggest loss, a total of $15,000 (close to half a million according to the inflation calculators!).
Apparently police had opened an investigation and were questioning employees of Todd-Smith & Co. I wonder whatever came of the investigation? Was this fire the demise of the company? I think it is likely. If I come across any other information, I will post an update for the curious.
But for now, I will settle for enjoying the gorgeous images of Edwardian fashion and dreaming of owning all of the beautiful clothing and accessories.