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Tag: Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Library

The Textile Thief and the Great British Manufacturers

Written by Jessica Masinter. She is a summer intern in the Cooper Hewitt Library and a literary studies major at Middlebury College.

(L): Textile sample No. 464 from “Textile Fabrics of India, second series, Volume 9, Mushroos and Imroos.” Main sample measures 19x10cm. “For Examination of Texture” sample square measures 4x4cm. (R): Textile sample No. 972 from “Textile Fabrics of India, second series, Volume 17, Cotton.” Main sample measures 19x10cm. “For Examination of Texture” sample square measures 4x4cm.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Indian textiles were the height of quality. Their exotic patterns, brilliant colors and dye fastness drove customer appeal among the English bourgeoisie to the point where India was considered by some to be the industrial workshop of the world. British textile manufacturers desperately tried to produce fabrics and patterns that imitated Indian textiles, attempting to ‘cash in’ on the in-demand designs. To do so, however, the British manufacturers required an in-depth knowledge of Indian textiles—and J. Forbes Watson was just the man to help.

Musical stuffed bunnies still sing it…..

Red orange cover of sheet music for 1933 musical revue As Thousands Cheer.
(L:) As Thousands Cheer. Irving Berlin Inc. of New York City, 1933. The bright red cover has a bottom silhouette illustration of people jubilantly marching in the Easter parade. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library (uncat)

“Easter Parade” is still a popular song- lots of little kids today know this old tune from their musical animal toys. You might know the lyrics and tune to sing along with the first 2 lines of the chorus of  “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…”  Written by Irving Berlin in 1933, the song was also the basis of the iconic 1948 movie musical starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. The song was introduced by Marilyn Miller and Clifton Webb on Broadway as part of the musical revue As Thousands Cheer (1933), in which musical numbers were strung together on the thematic thread of newspaper headlines and the lives of rich and famous people.