Daniel Milford Cottam

Title: Cataloguer
Department: Word and Image

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The Saga of Letitia and Rachel

The Saga of Letitla and Rachel

One of the unexpected pleasures of cataloguing a collection is when hidden treasures are discovered hidden behind dry archive descriptions, such as: “ANONYMOUS : Caricatures The Saga of Letitia and Rachel.  Drawings (23) satirizing a contemporary incident (?).  English, c.1910.” From the first image, my attention was grabbed by these high-quality charming drawings, far too […]

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Every Donkey has his Carte de Visite.

Satirical card showing a dog delivering a carte-de-visite

In 1854, a Frenchman, André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri, patented a new form of photograph called the carte de visite. These were small images, typically about 54 mm × 89 mm, mounted on thicker cards that measured 64 by 100 mm; about the same size as visiting-cards (literally, carte de visite). Disidéri’s invention meant that multiple copies […]

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Who’s in a Name? Paquin and the Named Design, 1898-1950

'Au Son du Cor.' Suit designed by Lou Claverie for Paquin, Winter 1950-51

In the world of fashion since the 20th century, many dresses have names that were given to them during the design process. Among the most famous examples are ‘Bar,’ the cream and black skirt suit that became the most widely recognised ensemble from Christian Dior’s 1947 ‘New Look’ collection; and ‘Sorbet,’ Paul Poiret’s 1913 kimono-styled, […]

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Haute Sportswear at Paquin, 1905-1950

'Télémark.' Forest-green ski suit with blouson bodice and long trousers, and matching long overcoat. Designed by Ana de Pombo for Paquin, Winter 1935-36.

A common perception of haute couture is that it is about glamorous evening gowns and special occasion day wear. These days, perhaps that isn’t so far off the mark, but there was a time when couturiers produced clothing for almost any occasion that a lady might require special garments for. Some establishments, such as the […]

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Paquin: Parisian Fashion Designs 1897-1954

'Poursuite'. Design for a skirt suit and coat by Lou Claverie for Paquin, Paris, mid-1950.

Over the last few years I have been working through a remarkable collection of over 9,700 fashion designs from the House of Paquin. Covering the period from Winter 1897 to Winter 1953-54, these designs (many bound in impressively hefty volumes) were acquired in 1957 following the 1956 disestablishment of the Paris House of Worth, who […]

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Falbalas and Fanfreluches Part 4: Fashion, Finally


This is the fourth and final instalment of George Barbier’s fabulous illustrations for Falbalas and Fanfreluches. While we did see some contemporary elegance in the previous three Barbier posts. it’s time to focus on his actual fashion designs. Unlike many other illustrators of the period, many of the gowns in Barbier’s drawings were of his […]

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Falbalas and Fanfreluches part 3: Fantasy


A third instalment of George Barbier’s illustrations from his luxury collector’s magazine Falbalas et Fanfreluches. This time, the theme is theatricality and general over-the-top extravagance. The images will speak for themselves!            

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Falbalas and Fanfreluches Part 2: Love Story

George Barbier. “Elle et Lui”. 1921.

This is another instalment of George Barbier’s illustrations from his luxury collector’s magazine Falbalas et Fanfreluches. One of his favourite themes was the interplay between people, with a strong romantic undercurrent. So here are some of Barbier’s prints telling romantic stories – of several varieties!   Love in the autumn…   “The stolen kiss” over […]

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Who Was Wheatcroft?

Detail of a sinking ship from E.32-1949

Whilst cataloguing, I often reflect on the many engravers whose work is now in our store, either anonymous, or signed only with cryptic initials or widespread surnames, and are fated to remain unknown. Only their work remains to silently attest to the skills of these unknown craftsmen and women. I may wish that A.R. (E.126-1941) […]

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Falbalas and Fanfreluches part 1: Folk Dress

George Barbier. “Sérenade,” 1923. Colour process engraving published by Meynial, Paris. E.638-1954

George Barbier (1882-1932) was one of the most highly regarded illustrators of the early 20th century Art Deco movement. His 1910s and 1920s fashion illustrations are among some of the most evocative of their period, and tempered with an unexpected sense of humour and liveliness. Perhaps more successfully than any other fashion illustrator of his […]

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