THERE WAS A CERTAIN joy here in March, when Lisa (visiting the East coast to work on all things Picture the Dead related) and I tore open the mail to find a bound bi-annual index of Godey’s Lady’s Book, July-December 1864. The book, an Ebay purchase, was even inscribed, “Anna Lloyd, from T.P.M. 1864,” giving it that extra measure of authenticity.
But the droll amusements of that next hour—reading about how to crochet a winter jacket or whip up a batch of ginger lozenges—are presumably incomparable to Anna Lloyd’s unabashed delight when this very index was delivered to her, hot off the press and costing $12.00 for the deep-pocketed T.P.M., who was well aware of Godey’s worth in the lives of women of a certain social standing.
Godey’s was published from 1830-1898, but its heyday belonged to the forty-year reign (1837-1877) of its editor, Sara Josepha Hale. Under her longtime stewardship, Godey’s usual format was as a monthly magazine that, among its sewing patterns, song sheets, and cooking “receipts” also sought to print substantive, thoughtful and relevant articles on every aspect of a woman’s life. Conservative to its core, however, Godey’s kept away from such hot-button topics such as the women’s rights movement, even though the forward-thinking Hale was simultaneously publishing many stories, poems, and essays by women writers. The magazine also refused to become part of any political or war-related discussion—a search through this particular index does not turn up so much as a pattern for a mourning dress, and surely, in 1864, these were in great demand.
But if it was a leaf penwiper you wanted, well, you could stop your search right here.
Materials: three pieces of black cloth; one piece of green; one piece of black silk, all but the size of our illustration; two yards of Alliance silk braid, scarlet and black; half a bunch of small gold beads; a handle.
This pen wiper represents a large leaf, veined with gold braid, edged with a fringe of gold beads, and finished off with a handle. If this is difficult to obtain in gilt or bronze complete, a handle may be made of wire, covered with gold beads twisted round, with the rosette of the beads for a button. The green cloth, of course, makes the top of the pen wiper; this should be braided all round the shape of our illustration, and then cut out. For the veinings the braid must be drawn through the cloth and back again, and fastened down on the wrong side. Nine little stars of gold beads are arranged round the leaf at regular intervals. The green cloth is lined with a piece of card-board, shaped, and covered with a piece of black silk. The three pieces of black cloth, which should be cut a trifle smaller than the green piece, should now be secured to the top, and the whole fastened by means of the handle, which is arranged with a little spring, to hold the leaves firmly together.