Friday, 1 November 2013

All This For Only A Pound!

I have been meaning to blog about this bargain book for absolutely ages – I got it for a pound in the Fakenham Parish Church 2nd hand booksale during our summer holiday at Cornerstones.


It seems an odd thing to buy – but I have derived so much enjoyment from this brilliantly written dictionary. 300 years of children’s clothes, from the 1700’s till the present. There is a great introduction full of fascinating quotes from literature, followed by timelines showing the basic changes in clothing styles.


Then there is the ‘dictionary proper’ listing garments alphabetically. Just to let you know, in 1965 I had a yellow nylon quilted dressing gown exactly like the one shown below

IJ page

There is an incredible breadth of detail – the page below covers ‘Danish’ trousers [i.e. knickerbockers] Davy Crockett gear, deely boppers, deerstalkers and denims.

knitting pattern

The pages are illustrated with photographs of not just garments, but also knitting and sewing patterns, and advertisements. Lovely to flick through – and a useful reference for costume making

At the end are four meticulously prepared appendices-

  1. the items in 13 typical baby layettes, dated between 1742 and 1970.
  2. details of the uniforms of youth organisations – scouts, brigades, woodcraft folk etc
  3. ‘what went underneath’ – simple illustrations showing the development of children’s underwear through the years


and finally, Appendix 4 is a wonderful glossary of words connected with children’s clothing. It is divided into sections for babies, and children- and within that there are lists of words for underwear, outerwear, accessories, occasion wear etc. This informative section was fabulous - the words are so lovely and so fascinating – listen to these…

banyan, bapkin, biggin, black pudding, fontange,  jummer,   mockateer, skort, ulsterette, whittle, zephyr

noreen marshall

I have been enthralled by this lovely book, first published in 2008. My copy is not only in pristine condition – but also signed by the author. How cool is that? I managed to track down Mrs Marshall, and sent her an email, and received a wonderful reply from this gracious and erudite lady. She has now retired from working at the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood and is working on another book about children’s costume. I look forward to reading it.

If you ever see this dictionary in a library or a charity shop, please have a look, and borrow or buy it. I doubt you’ll be disapppointed!


  1. Fabulous book, what a find! Thankyou for sharing it, Vee x

  2. PS, Just checked out the book on good old Am.z.n - you did get a bargain there, well done! Have a great day, it's raining here, hope your day is brighter, Vee x

  3. How wonderful!! That sounds such an interesting book and nice you found the author and how gracious she was.x

  4. That's the sort of book where you keep reading bits aloud to the people around you!
    What is 'banyan'? In the Navy it's a beach picnic!
    Jane x

    1. banyan [or banian] - a loose knee length jacket/coat for boys or men, originally from India and Persia - the word means 'merchant'

    2. That has to be the original link. Sailors (merchants) wearing banyans going ashore to 'socialize'?
      Thank you!
      Jane x
      Jane x
      PS Thank you!

  5. What a fantastically quirky book! Jx

  6. I love books about costume through the ages, never seen this and brilliant news - Suffolk libraries have it. So it's on order for me.
    Thank you for the info

  7. I have my now old Ladybird book on the History of Costume. It is a fascinating read, though not nearly as erudite as this!


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