One of the things I love and respect so much about times before the Industrial Revolution is the sheer simplicity of things. Well, simple I suppose, compared to today's standards and practices. As ones learns more about history, and the level of work involved and efforts put into everything, you can appreciate simple things, for their complexity. Take for example, a purchase wrapped in plain brown paper, and tied neatly with string. Simple right? Dare Ye say...primitive? Not at all! Just having paper was a privilege and extravagance in Early America. Newsprint and the like, was hand printed on hand made paper, that was made from ground rags and flax linen~ paper was recycled then, like glass and metals are today. A person never threw paper away or into the fire...it was just too expensive to make...so a purchase wrapped in paper, was a precious purchase indeed.
So much early work and craftsmanship is unattributed...it is hard to think of a time when such fine handwork was most often anonymous...because it was common. Everything was handmade. There were no machines to do ones work on. So why bother to affix a label or sign ones name....alot of time, especially on shoes, we see names written in the linings~ these are not the names of the maker, but of the purchaser for whom the shoe is being hand made....so I am always thrilled to find early hand printed labels in things~ the labels themselves are works of art to me...I think of and appreciate the hand made paper they are made from, the ink and printing press they were printed on....the animal glue or starches they were affixed with, and the lives of the people behind the words that we read on them. Here are a few of my favorites~ above, pictured "Smith & Leech" London shoe label from dated 1786 pair of women's wedding shoes This delicate survivor , same decade 1780s lady's shoe, but with a rare American label "Eben & Bree" in Philadelphia. Many labels became supper for little weevils and such, as the wee beasties are attracted to the starch glues they were affixed with.
This label is on the top center of a c1820 mache box containing a beautiful early tortoise haircomb~ from Malaga Spain.
A second decade 19th century poke bonnet "Lydia B Hayhurst" Ohio