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chase196126
10-12-2006, 09:54 PM
The topic came up in the CS sack coat thread about machine sewn button holes, so I thought I would start a new thread. As mentioned in the previous discussion there are several pair of trousers that have machine made button holes. Does any one have pictures of these trousers, and or their button holes? Does anyone have a picture of a machine made button hole from a garment that was in use during the war?
I own one of Mr. Sekelas frocks that contains the period machined holes and i am interested in learning about the different articles of clothing that are like it.

Thanks!
Chase

PS Please, do not let this turn into a war of machined vs. hand work. Let's discuss existing garments without getting into a war of reproductions.

tompritchett
10-13-2006, 07:25 AM
As mentioned in the previous discussion there are several pair of trousers that have machine made button holes.

First, let me put on my non-moderator, just interested reenactor hat, I am also interested in whether these are all representative of just one manufacturer (A&S?) or multiple manufacturers. Also, in addition to pictures, I would be interested if there are other complimentary documentation as contracted quantities and such. Where machine made button holes may not have the "norm", it would be interested in getting pretty information on the overall frequency of their occurrence.


Please, do not let this turn into a war of machined vs. hand work. Let's discuss existing garments without getting into a war of reproductions.

Now for my moderator hat, let me echo this request. If anyone tries to steer this discussion away from existing garments and historical records and towards a "war of reproductions", their post will be deleted in its entirety. No edits this time. I will be watching this thread closely.

Provost
10-13-2006, 03:22 PM
"their post will be deleted in its entirety. No edits this time. "

I want to make a brief comment; to remind those who have been here on the CWR a long time and inform those who are new. Tom is acting in accordance with long standing forum policy in this regard.

It is not the moderators's responsibility to separate babies from bathwater. That is to say, we're not here to edit member's posts and separate comments that may be rude or disrespectful from those made in the spirit of respectful debate.

It is the members' responsibility to make sure they are acting in that spirit, as well as the "letter of the law."

Your participation on that high level will lead us closer to being the sort of place where all sides of issues, and all manner of information, can be shared in a spirit of open inquiry for our mutual benefit. That has been the focus of our effort for some time and will continue to be so.

My deepest thanks to Tom, and you all, for your help in this matter.

Provost

NJ Sekela
10-14-2006, 06:34 AM
Mr. Pinkham:

I could hardly think of a more uninviting circumstance than having the two moderators cracking their knuckles at the door.

I am, &c,

NJ Sekela,
Manf'r.
N. Jers'y.

http://www.njsekela.com
http://www.ejtsutler.com.
http://www.carterandjasper.com

tompritchett
10-14-2006, 09:46 AM
Mr. Pinkham:

I could hardly think of a more uninviting circumstance than having the two moderators cracking their knuckles at the door.

I am, &c,

NJ Sekela,
Manf'r.
N. Jers'y.


Maybe it because both of us are tired of having discussions about historical clothing turned into p******g contests between supporters of two prominent makers of authentic historical reproductions. Frankly, I would rather not have to put on my moderator hat to bring discussions back under control. Instead I would prefer to just let the conversations flow and make my comments as just a reenactor interested in the topic - one such as this.

vmescher
10-14-2006, 10:22 AM
The topic came up in the CS sack coat thread about machine sewn button holes, so I thought I would start a new thread. As mentioned in the previous discussion there are several pair of trousers that have machine made button holes. Does any one have pictures of these trousers, and or their button holes? Does anyone have a picture of a machine made button hole from a garment that was in use during the war?
I own one of Mr. Sekelas frocks that contains the period machined holes and i am interested in learning about the different articles of clothing that are like it.

Thanks!
Chase

PS Please, do not let this turn into a war of machined vs. hand work. Let's discuss existing garments without getting into a war of reproductions.

While I don't have any original garments with machine buttonholes in them, I have done considerable research on buttonhole attachments.

Below is a compilation of what I have found.

From _Sewing Machine Attachements_ by George Gregory (1872)
A buttonhole machine was patented in 1854 and whip-stitched or a buttonhole stitch, similar to our zig-zag stitch and an attachment was patented in 1856. They were difficult to use. In 1860 two different buttonhole attachments were patented, but there were still problems. The quality of the buttonhole depended on the operator of the machine. They were automatic in that the machine did the stitching, but they still required an operator to manipulate the machine and fabric. In 1862 and 1864 another buttonhole attachment was patented and improved. The author wrote about buttonhole attachments, "thread carriers loop their threads with the threads carried by two needles placed side by side on one needle bar, and the threads of the carriers connect the two parallel seams, or the thread pass through the cloth back of, and through the button-hole slot."

From Eighty Years of Progress in the United States_ (1861)
In 1861, a buttonhole machine was mentioned as producing 100 buttonholes
per hour and were superior to those done by hand. The machine was patented by Vogel (patent # 25,692) in 1859.

David Wood Humphrey was issued a patent on Oct. 14, 1862 (#36,617) for a
machine that did over-edge and buttonhole sewing. This machine was
improved in 1864 and 1865. Singer purchased the patent rights for the
Union Buttonhole machine in 1867. This machine was mentioned in _One
Hundred Years of Progress_ (1870) said of the Union Buttonhole Machine,
that it could make buttonholes "in silk, alpaca, bombazine, muslin,
broadcloth, and leather. The buttonholes were not gimped but pearled with
perfection and beauty which no handwork can surpass."

W. B. Bartram was issued a patent (#62,520) on Mar. 5, 1867 for a button
hole sewing machine.

I realize that patents are not proof that a product was ever manufactured or available to the public, but at least the patent date is a starting date to start looking.

From a Wilson & Wilson advertisement from 1862. In 1862, Wheeler & Wilson stated that their buttonhole machine could sew 1,000 buttonholes per day and only 40 per day could be done by hand. Apparently, these buttonhole machines were for commercial use only.

In an 1867 _Atlantic Monthly_ article stated that the sewing machine
performed nearly all that the needle did and that it seamed, hemmed, tucked, bound, embroidered, and made buttonholes.

It was not until 1882 that the first automatic buttonhole machine was patented. It cut the hole, stitched over gimp and around the slit. It was patented by John Reece.

I have seen several advertisements for buttonhole machines or attachments,
but it is impossible to ascertain how prevalent they were. The number of sewing machines manufactured, sold and probably used is fairly easy to find using census figures and manufacturer's figures, but as for attachments, I have not found anything conclusive. I think it would be safe to say that during the Civil War, most buttonholes were worked by hand but there may have been some done by machine, since the Wheeler & Wilson commercial machine was in use in 1862.

3rd Alabama
10-14-2006, 02:33 PM
Mr. Pinkham:

I could hardly think of a more uninviting circumstance than having the two moderators cracking their knuckles at the door.

I am, &c,

NJ Sekela,
Manf'r.
N. Jers'y.

http://www.njsekela.com
http://www.ejtsutler.com.
http://www.carterandjasper.com

Since you brought it up in another thread about machine sewn button holes on 5 existing federal trousers I and I am sure many others are real interested to see the documentation and pictures of said garments. I have never come across any CW era garments with machined buttonholes so I am very interested to see documentation of these.

bob 125th nysvi
10-14-2006, 02:39 PM
Virginia:

There are times when the patent might take several years before it was issued. So the patent date is just the date the government recognized the invention as being unique and original.

So there could have been machines in use PRIOR to the patent date.

Also I don't know if any uniforms might have been ordered from overseas (like England). But if they were you are now talikng about when did the English start using button hole machines.

But just thinking as an innovative American manufacturer who had just gotten a big government contract for the first time. If I could get my hands on a machine that did 100 buttonholes an hour. And I could afford it, I'd at least THINK about it.

Bob Sandusky
125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

tompritchett
10-14-2006, 04:31 PM
Since you brought it up in another thread about machine sewn button holes on 5 existing federal trousers I and I am sure many others are real interested to see the documentation and pictures of said garments. I have never come across any CW era garments with machined buttonholes so I am very interested to see documentation of these.

Moderator hat - Carefull on documentation challenges. If you are requesting more information about the garments themselves for purposes of personal enlightment, then that is acceptable, but, if you are actually challenging the authenticity of the garments, then you are crossing the line for this thread.

Reenactor hat - Nick, I am very curious if these pants are all associated with a single manufacturer or multiple manufacturers. I know that you may not have that information, but, if you do, I think that information would be pertinent to ongoing discussion.

3rd Alabama
10-14-2006, 05:18 PM
Moderator hat - Carefull on documentation challenges. If you are requesting more information about the garments themselves for purposes of personal enlightment, then that is acceptable, but, if you are actually challenging the authenticity of the garments, then you are crossing the line for this thread.

This in no way was a challenge. I am interested in it exactly as I stated because I have never viewed an original with them. Nick if these are in a museum or any other public collection I would love to know where so I can go and view them.

tompritchett
10-15-2006, 12:48 AM
This in no way was a challenge. I am interested in it exactly as I stated because I have never viewed an original with them. Nick if these are in a museum or any other public collection I would love to know where so I can go and view them.

No problem. I just was not sure where you were coming from with your original post and just wanted to clarify the issue when you asked for "documentation", especially after what happened in the sack coat thread. As I mentioned while wearing my reenactor hat, I am also interested in getting more information about these trousers because frankly I enjoy learning new things. I have a very eclectic couriosity.

jurgitemvaletem
10-15-2006, 12:58 AM
does anyone have pictures of period machine stitching they could post on this forum for a public view?

Thanks,
Jurgitem Valetem

theknapsack
10-15-2006, 01:00 PM
Mr. Greenfield,
Many uniform researchers do not just go to museums to view or get specs of garments, as most garments are actually in private collections. Many other garments are not on display at many museums and historical societies. I know from the very little experience I've had that it is very, very difficult to be able to just go and view any garment, anywhere in the country.
That being said, if these pairs of trousers are in private collections, it may be the case that he is not allowed to share information as far as location, owner, or even pictures. In that case, asking Mr. Sekela to retrieve this information for you may be an extremely tall order.
Documentation is great, but Mr. Sekela is a uniform researcher and has a LOT of knowledge on the period garment industry and sewing techniques. It would probably be for your own benefit to take him for his word, which may very well be true in the first place, and NOT buy trousers with machine sewn buttonholes (because you have never seen a pair of trousers with machine sewn buttonholes).
But is it that unreasonable to believe? Millions and millions of pairs of trousers were made during the war by various depots and contractors, and we know that they did indeed have a buttonhole machine during the war. Many of these pairs, of course, no longer exist, so it is impossible to know the exact sewing technique a number of them used. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of original pairs that still exist today have handsewn buttonholes. Then again, we have no real idea of how many original pairs exist today, so it is not fair to say that none of them, based on a majority, have machine sewn buttonholes, and thus they never existed.
Its almost the same thing with pockets. The majority of original federal trousers in existence today (that we know about) have side-seam pockets. So many reproduction pairs are justly made with side-seam pockets. But, pictoral evidence indicates that many soldiers had horizontal front pockets, diagonal pockets, and even "mule-ear" pockets on their trousers. There is an original pair of trousers with horizontal pockets, but it was a field alteration. Is it therefore reasonable to say that all the guys with different pockets altered them after-issue? It is not in any way, because we can't base all facts off of 100 or so exisiting originals (that we know about) out of the millions that were made.
Think about what I just wrote down. Base what you wear off of originals you know about, but keep in mind that other styles did indeed exist.

hanktrent
10-15-2006, 01:33 PM
From _Sewing Machine Attachements_ by George Gregory (1872)
A buttonhole machine was patented in 1854 and whip-stitched or a buttonhole stitch, similar to our zig-zag stitch and an attachment was patented in 1856. They were difficult to use. In 1860 two different buttonhole attachments were patented, but there were still problems. The quality of the buttonhole depended on the operator of the machine. They were automatic in that the machine did the stitching, but they still required an operator to manipulate the machine and fabric. In 1862 and 1864 another buttonhole attachment was patented and improved. The author wrote about buttonhole attachments, "thread carriers loop their threads with the threads carried by two needles placed side by side on one needle bar, and the threads of the carriers connect the two parallel seams, or the thread pass through the cloth back of, and through the button-hole slot."

Something I've been curious about...

We talk about hand buttonholes and machine buttonholes as if there were only two choices. But the quote above indicates that there were several different styles of buttonhole machines in the period, before inventors settled on the typical machines of today.

I'm wondering what period machine-sewn buttonholes looked like, made on the older machines. Are the surviving examples the same as what we normally picture when we think of "machine sewn buttonholes," like what would be found on Levi 501s or whatever? Or is there something different in the stitch of the period machine?

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Tarky
10-15-2006, 03:54 PM
The topic came up in the CS sack coat thread about machine sewn button holes, so I thought I would start a new thread. As mentioned in the previous discussion there are several pair of trousers that have machine made button holes. Does any one have pictures of these trousers, and or their button holes? Does anyone have a picture of a machine made button hole from a garment that was in use during the war?
I own one of Mr. Sekelas frocks that contains the period machined holes and i am interested in learning about the different articles of clothing that are like it.

Thanks!
Chase

PS Please, do not let this turn into a war of machined vs. hand work. Let's discuss existing garments without getting into a war of reproductions.

Hello found this on the Web-- Henry Alonzo inventor.
Automatic buttonhole machine
When the Civil War broke out and Henry was rejected as a volunteer on account of his slightly cripped right hand, he turned his attention to making a button hole machine. He and his brother James entered into partnership with Mr. Seaman and in 1862 they perfected an automatic buttonhole sewing machine. It was then tested in a clothing shop in New York on army overcoats and capes, where its average was from 1,000 to 1,200 buttonholes per day. This caused hard feelings among the hand buttonhole workers, and one day during the noon hour they smashed the machine. However, the next morning another machine was working in its place. All together there were over one hundred thousand button holes made there. The patents were taken over by the Wheeler and Wilson Manufacturing Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. While House was in Washington D.C looking after the patent application, he met Abraham Lincoln, for whom he cast his first vote.

In November 1862, he again returned to Little Meadows and married his cousin Mary Elizabeth House, daughter of William House, a miller. As his mother was very ill they hurried to Brooklyn, N.Y. where his mother died Nov. 28, 1862. He then took his bride to Bridgeport, Connecticut where he was engaged by Wheeler and Wilson to superintend the making of his buttonhole machine. In the Spring of 1863 his father Ezekiel House died in Brooklyn, N.Y. During that year four patents were issued for the automatic buttonhole sewing machine. In 1867 House represented the company at the Paris Exposition Universelle, which opened in Paris, France in May 1867.

Some of the other web history pages on sewing say that the buttonhole machines, the early ones, did not work that well. BUT, THEY HAD THEM-- More work is needed on Mr. Alonzo and the USQMD.

Tom Arliskas
Tarky

NJ Sekela
10-15-2006, 04:29 PM
Mr. Pritchett:

Although Mr. Greenfield recanted, I also took the tone of his inquiry to be confrontational. To put in mildly, Mr. Greenfield has said some very unkind and unpleasant things about me in the past, and I can only take his comments in that light.

That notwithstanding, the trousers are indeed in a private collection, and I believe that there is someone in the process of writing an article about them. To that end, the information will be coveted until the work on them is completed. It really is a "scoop" in the field of historical endeavours, and the persons deserver all the credit and glory.

Things that are of extreme rarity, such as federal trousers in general, and those trousers in particular, can only be seen with the permission of the owner. I would only approach them with humility and sincerity, and certainly not contempt.

Machine buttonholes absolutely existed. There are several patents issued for them during the war.The patents themselves can only serve as guildlines. Many items were being produced without patent protection; the Joseph Short's knapsack that I own (and you can see on my site) is clearly marked "PATENT APPLIED FOR".

Knowing that the region of Connecticut known for gun manufacture, clock manufacture and tool and die work, is also the provenance for the machine buttonhole, follows a logical progression.

I am, &c,

NJ Sekela,
Manf'r.
N.Jers'y.

http://www.njsekela.com
http://www.ejtsutler.com
http://www.carterandjasper.com

ewtaylor
10-15-2006, 06:46 PM
Mr. Greenfield,
Many uniform researchers do not just go to museums to view or get specs of garments, as most garments are actually in private collections. Many other garments are not on display at many museums and historical societies. I know from the very little experience I've had that it is very, very difficult to be able to just go and view any garment, anywhere in the country.
That being said, if these pairs of trousers are in private collections, it may be the case that he is not allowed to share information as far as location, owner, or even pictures. In that case, asking Mr. Sekela to retrieve this information for you may be an extremely tall order.
Documentation is great, but Mr. Sekela is a uniform researcher and has a LOT of knowledge on the period garment industry and sewing techniques. It would probably be for your own benefit to take him for his word, which may very well be true in the first place, and NOT buy trousers with machine sewn buttonholes (because you have never seen a pair of trousers with machine sewn buttonholes).
But is it that unreasonable to believe? Millions and millions of pairs of trousers were made during the war by various depots and contractors, and we know that they did indeed have a buttonhole machine during the war. Many of these pairs, of course, no longer exist, so it is impossible to know the exact sewing technique a number of them used. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of original pairs that still exist today have handsewn buttonholes. Then again, we have no real idea of how many original pairs exist today, so it is not fair to say that none of them, based on a majority, have machine sewn buttonholes, and thus they never existed.
Its almost the same thing with pockets. The majority of original federal trousers in existence today (that we know about) have side-seam pockets. So many reproduction pairs are justly made with side-seam pockets. But, pictoral evidence indicates that many soldiers had horizontal front pockets, diagonal pockets, and even "mule-ear" pockets on their trousers. There is an original pair of trousers with horizontal pockets, but it was a field alteration. Is it therefore reasonable to say that all the guys with different pockets altered them after-issue? It is not in any way, because we can't base all facts off of 100 or so exisiting originals (that we know about) out of the millions that were made.
Think about what I just wrote down. Base what you wear off of originals you know about, but keep in mind that other styles did indeed exist.

Since pockets were mentioned, I would like to know if anyone has seen period trousers with BACK pockets? I have never heard of such but a fellow reenactor has a repro pair he wears and when confronted exclaims they were in existence. He is a good friend but also what some would call a "militant farb" and I have a hard time taking his advice on certain things. I have never "called him out" on these pants because I don't want to embarass him or hurt his feelings without having absolute proof about these trousers.
ew taylor

FranklinGuardsNYSM
10-15-2006, 07:46 PM
Since pockets were mentioned, I would like to know if anyone has seen period trousers with BACK pockets? I have never heard of such but a fellow reenactor has a repro pair he wears and when confronted exclaims they were in existence. He is a good friend but also what some would call a "militant farb" and I have a hard time taking his advice on certain things. I have never "called him out" on these pants because I don't want to embarass him or hurt his feelings without having absolute proof about these trousers.
ew taylor

Was it on this forum or the other one, but the topic of back pockets has been brought up. I've never seen examples or images of enlisted trousers with back pockets. However, there are several known examples of officers' trousers that featured this "flask pocket," inset on the rear.

MStuart
10-15-2006, 07:53 PM
Was it on this forum or the other one, but the topic of back pockets has been brought up. I've never seen examples or images of enlisted trousers with back pockets. However, there are several known examples of officers' trousers that featured this "flask pocket," inset on the rear.

Marc:

I don't remember which forum, either, but I seem to remember the same thing you do, i.e. a "flask pocket" or some other such name. I'm sure I'll be corrected if wrong, but that type of trouser wasn't a mass-produced kind of thing, but strictly "custom tailored" for those who had the $$.

Mark

NJ Sekela
10-15-2006, 08:04 PM
Marc:

I believe that there are a pair of officer's trousers worn by a Lt. Young from New York, who was wounded in the leg at Peach Tree Creek, which bears the pocket you describe.

I am, &c,

NJ Sekela,
Manf'r.
N.Jers'y.

http://www.njsekela.com
http://www.ejtsutler.com
http://www.carterandjasper.com

FranklinGuardsNYSM
10-15-2006, 08:58 PM
Well, for the life of me I can't find where this had previously been discussed, so pardon the re-post if this seems familiar.

At least one pair at GNMP has the rear pocket:

http://www.myrtle-avenue.com/rearpocket2.jpg

ewtaylor
10-15-2006, 11:10 PM
Thanks for the pic, Marc. Of course the pair of pants my buddy wears aren't like that. They have the back pocket like modern jeans.
ew taylor

cosgood
10-16-2006, 01:11 AM
A pair of officers trousers I copy and measured up at West point have 2 back pockets. Just like those seen in Marc's immage. The trousers are in EOG and are Id'd to Capt. Dillingham. The trousers had no side seam pockets, but 2 pockets set into the rear.

Army30th
10-16-2006, 05:30 PM
I believe it was posted on the AC Forum before the latest crash. It was in reference to a photograph on ebay of a man and woman together with the man/woman sewing his pants that had what looked like a rear pocket. I think the thread had something to do with wanting to know if it was of the CW period or was later.

I had personally asked if anyone had seen or had knowledge of rear pocket pants, since in over 25 years of study, had never seen a pair of CW period pants with rear pockets. Another fellow sent me to the thread that showed the Dillingham pants, but for my money if that's the only pair that anybody can reference, then that to me is not conclusive evidence that they existed in quantity.

My 2 cents, and opinions are like, well you know.....

bob 125th nysvi
10-17-2006, 03:44 PM
documentary evidence as to the existance of commercial button hole sewing machines existing in America during the CW.

It appears that we also have documentary evidence of at least experimental usage of such machines to make button holes on uniforms. Based on how manufacturers work today if it worked and was available and CHEAPER than what they were doing, they changed their methods.

I have seen reports of button hole seamstresses in Victorian England making 4 times in wages what a normal seamstress made. So if they could replace such high wage labor at least some of them tried it.

I guess a question that may need to be addressed is what is the percentage of such garments actually appearing in the ranks.

I think as that conversation starts we need to remember that the existing original clothing is a factional percentage of what was actually produced for both armies (even if it is enough clothing to completely equip a whole division that is a mere drop in the bucket).

Also I think that the existing originals are probably the HIGHER quality garments. Most of the poorer quality garments just weren't worth keeping or wore away even in storage.

Re-evaluating previous 'evidence' may be of value.

Bob Sandusky
125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

ps: I'm old enough to remember when Brontosaus bodies had the wrong head on them because scientists assumed that the head found closest to the most complete fossil found to date belonged to the bronto. That assumption, 'science' for decades, crumbled when they finally found a complete fossil. Of course some people refused to beleive the correction!

tompritchett
10-17-2006, 04:46 PM
ps: I'm old enough to remember when Brontosaus bodies had the wrong head on them because scientists assumed that the head found closest to the most complete fossil found to date belonged to the bronto. That assumption, 'science' for decades, crumbled when they finally found a complete fossil. Of course some people refused to beleive the correction!


As another example, in the early part of the 20th Century one of the big debates in Physics was whether or not light was merely energy or was did it consist of a particle like electricity. Both groups had plenty of experiments to prove that they were right and so the argument continued. It was not resolved until someone had the bright idea that light was both energy with wave-like properties and particles with no mass called photons. Then there are the numerous discoveries of species whose whole families were thought to have gone extinct millions of years ago.

skamikaze
10-19-2006, 10:28 PM
the existing originals that we have are probably not even the best representation of that which was mas produced at the time.

a lot of the early war stuff was made of cheap pilot cloth that fell apart in service and was discarded. there are a lot of units that we know had certain uniforms but a whole uniform did not survive intact, such as the 155th PA zouaves. not a single sash from approximatley 1000 or so exists today and less than a handful of uniform coats and pants. but we know exactly what they looked like from the salvaged copies of the pattern and regulations.

there are probably a great many examples of stitching and altering that we will never see, but that does not mean that it did not exist. i think a careful combination of original relics and documentation is the best way to approach things.

i guess what im getting at is that if there is written documentation that machine made holes existed on certain items, then it seems logical that one could manufacture those items even without an original to copy.

in fact, the originals that do exist could be from a bad batch that never saw service and the good ones did not survive, you never know. i just think there are too many unsolved questions for there to be definate answers.


rant..... done.

Frenchie
10-20-2006, 10:26 PM
Pilot cloth was/is a heavy, twilled, woolen material used to make cold-weather garments for sailors. The coarser kind was cheap, but it didn't come apart easily. Did you mean "shoddy"?

skamikaze
10-23-2006, 10:45 PM
yes, i was referring to the shoddy stuff that was made of leftover scraps pressed and sometimes even glued together that fell apart on the march.

i would dare say that probably none of that is still in existence

J. Schnakenberg
10-24-2006, 05:49 AM
This has been a great thread. From what started out as a "tastes great!/Less Filling!" type of of argument now has people producing patent information as evidence and talking about 19c industrial applications, beyond what we THINK we all know about the Civil War.

In particular I'd like to thank the moderator for allowing the conversation to take its course, at the risk of some parties getting their nose bent a little bit out of shape.

Thorough intellectual discourse can sometime be a little painful, but its worth it. I know my understanding of the topic is much better now due to the inputs of Nick Sekela and others.

Just my two ducats worth,

neocelt
10-24-2006, 07:43 AM
Bob Sandusky wrote: "I have seen reports of button hole seamstresses in Victorian England making 4 times in wages what a normal seamstress made."

Bob, can you please add the citation verbatim, along with the full biblio. source info.?

Cheers,

masonicpaintballer
10-24-2006, 08:42 AM
ok let me show my lack of knowledge in this area, how can one tell if its machine or not?

ElizabethClark
10-24-2006, 11:26 AM
That's where having a few on-line photos of period machined buttonholes along side pictures of period handworked buttonholes would be very, very, very useful. The difference between handworked holes and *modern* machined holes is vast--you'll see a little purled "knot" thing on the inside edge of every handworked buttonhole stitch. Without images of machined buttonholes from the period, it's pretty difficult to show the differences in hand versus machine during the period!

I know it's been asked before, but I'll ask again: Can anyone point us toward any pictorial archive or source of images of machined buttonholes on original garments?

DanSwitzer
10-25-2006, 12:12 PM
"ok let me show my lack of knowledge in this area, how can one tell if its machine or not?"

Mason, let me add a question to the cue: Who cares?

I realize you are new, but you will find out later on that this focus on warp and weft, handsewn versus machine sewn, vegetable dyed versus analine dyed is the biggest hoax or red herring in the hobby. No visitor ever came to a reenactment looking for a handsewn buttonhole. No spectator ever asks Hey, is that jean or satinette or is that really cassimere? No one will ever ask you if your uniform pattern was drawn and cut using period-correct scissors. This stuff is nice to know, but its importance is exaggerated. Focus on the history, not what they wore.

Big Dan

Rob
10-25-2006, 12:43 PM
Isn't what they wore part of the history?

FranklinGuardsNYSM
10-25-2006, 01:45 PM
No visitor ever came to a reenactment looking for a handsewn buttonhole.

Tell that to the old lady who once looked at my uniform and said "that's a handsewn buttonhole...I didn't know anyone still knew how to make those!"

As Rob said, material culture is a part of history, and what's more, it's a very tangible part history. As reenactors, we accept the fact that we can't get everything right, but the material culture is something that we CAN get right.

A good living historian is prepared to do more than talk about "soldiers ate these things called hardtack." You need to be able to engage everyone in your audience, and the 14-year-old girl who couldn't care less about hardtack and rifles might be interested when you talk about the process that went in to making the uniforms. You can then point to your stitching and remind them that there was actually a PERSON in some town somewhere making these things, that truly it was everybody's war. It's part of the process of mobilizing for war. The question of "how" goes beyond "how did a soldier load his weapon?"

Furthermore, taking our friend the Army Fatigue Blouse as an example, how do you answer the "aren't you hot in that?" question? We all get that question at least a dozen times per year. This is where the accuracy of materials comes in. "Yeah, it's sweltering. Look at the heavy wool" is the answer one might give if wearing a fatigue blouse of mainstream-grade cloth, which often has a polyester content (which acts as a suffocator) and thicker wool. However, we know that fatigue blouses were made of flannel, and quality replicas reflect this. Flannel, with no polyester content, does a better job of allowing the body to breathe, and consequently isn't as stifling as a lower-grade coat. In other words, they're perfectly comfortable and rather lightweight, and you're really no hotter than anyone else who would be performing laborious tasks on a day in the sun. That comes as a surprise to spectators who may have presumed that uniforms in the Civil War were always "heavy wool," as some books claim.

Would you produce a cartridge from your box that you made out of a used page torn from TV Guide and show it to the public? How about a cartridge that's properly made, to the correct dimensions, tied off at the bottom, and everything -- you can now either talk about the loading and firing of the weapon, or you can use it as a prop to explain the story of the girls who were killed at the Allegheny Arsenal.

To mangle Murphy's Law, if something CAN be done correctly, then it SHOULD be done correctly.

Milliron
10-25-2006, 02:07 PM
"ok let me show my lack of knowledge in this area, how can one tell if its machine or not?"

Mason, let me add a question to the cue: Who cares?

I realize you are new, but you will find out later on that this focus on warp and weft, handsewn versus machine sewn, vegetable dyed versus analine dyed is the biggest hoax or red herring in the hobby. No visitor ever came to a reenactment looking for a handsewn buttonhole. No spectator ever asks Hey, is that jean or satinette or is that really cassimere? No one will ever ask you if your uniform pattern was drawn and cut using period-correct scissors. This stuff is nice to know, but its importance is exaggerated. Focus on the history, not what they wore.

Big Dan

Oh my. I do not intend to fan the flames which are surely coming from this statement, and I will assume you really do mean that, but I am curious about one thing:

What distinguishes you as a Civil War living historian, as opposed to an academic, if not your clothes (among other things)? On what history specifically do you believe we should focus?

I agree that one can become too focused on material culture (as opposed to attitude), but living history is in large part about the material culture, that is why it is "living," so to speak. What they wore IS the history, and you should do it right or not at all.

If you truly believe what you have said, I suggest (in the nicest way possible) that you stick to teaching history to those who care to listen and stay out of the field. You would be doing this hobby a disservice. If I am incorrect or have misunderstood your statement, please say so.

Bob Muehleisen,
Cin, O.

Frenchie
10-25-2006, 05:59 PM
I think I can still make out a recognizable piece of this dead horse, so I'll beat on that until it's jelly...

Bob, this query is rhetorical and deliberately presents two extremes: Which do you prefer, a unit with absolutely top-notch gear and no interest in talking to spectators (they're out there, I've seen them), or a unit entirely outfitted by Jarnagin that does great drill, knows the manual of arms backward, and goes out and shows the 'tators a great time while passing on correct historical knowledge?

DanSwitzer
10-25-2006, 06:16 PM
...and his name was "BINGO!"

I have personally seen spectators practically run away from an immaculately dressed and accoutered reenactor who wanted to talk warpenwefffet when the spectators were there to hear about the troops in the field. Talk about missing the forest for the trees! This guy was missing the trees for the bark.

Life is a series of choices and compromises and what someone has to do is to decide what their ultimate goals might be before making those choices. Knowing what you want out of something makes that task alot easier and the result both more predictable and more desirable.

Big Dan

Milliron
10-25-2006, 08:49 PM
...and his name was "BINGO!"

I have personally seen spectators practically run away from an immaculately dressed and accoutered reenactor who wanted to talk warpenwefffet when the spectators were there to hear about the troops in the field. Talk about missing the forest for the trees! This guy was missing the trees for the bark.

Life is a series of choices and compromises and what someone has to do is to decide what their ultimate goals might be before making those choices. Knowing what you want out of something makes that task alot easier and the result both more predictable and more desirable.

Big Dan

This assumes that you are involved in the hobby for the benefit of spectators. Not everyone is. I too have seen well dressed authentic types bore the *** out of spectators at events--it makes me cringe too. However, that's not really the issue. The issue is what's correct.

You proposed that material culture didn't matter. That has nothing to do with the well dressed reenactor who bores spectators with "warpenwefft."

Frenchie:
I would be more accepting of the notion of the "not-so-authentic kit" if it wasn't so often accompanied by the "not-so-authentic attitude." For my own part, those who can march, drill, and impart a great deal of knowledge generally have kits that reflect that, be they "hardcore" or mainstream. Sometimes they even have handsewn buttonholes.

Being able to explain to a spectator that one of the reasons Confederates looked brown, for instance, was because the logwood vegetable dyes in their clothing degraded in sunlight is one example. Being able to show them on your own person--invaluable. All the cadet gray Woolrich in the world isn't going to impart that lesson.

If you do not seek to obtain equipment of the proper materials, construction, and technique, you are doing little more than wearing a costume. You are not teaching a spectator anything they couldn't get from a book off the table at Barnes and Noble. Strive to do more than that.

Bob Muehleisen
Cin, O.

Frenchie
10-25-2006, 10:46 PM
Frenchie:
If you do not seek to obtain equipment of the proper materials, construction, and technique, you are doing little more than wearing a costume. You are not teaching a spectator anything they couldn't get from a book off the table at Barnes and Noble. Strive to do more than that.

Bob Muehleisen
Cin, O.

Bob, let's say I start getting high-quality uniform and accoutrement items per your suggestions. Will I then have earned the right to have a snotty Úlitist attitude and talk down to people? Or is there more to it than that?

tompritchett
10-26-2006, 07:55 AM
Moderator hat - Two comments here.

First, I am starting to detect that some people are starting to get testy here. I would suggest that you back off before someone crosses the line and their posts start getting deleted.

Second, this particular discussion has wandered off the theme of this thread. If someone wants to continue this discussion, I would suggest that they open a new thread. Thank you.

Milliron
10-26-2006, 10:19 AM
Bob, let's say I start getting high-quality uniform and accoutrement items per your suggestions. Will I then have earned the right to have a snotty Úlitist attitude and talk down to people? Or is there more to it than that?

Frenchie:

I was not being snotty or elitest. I am suggesting that there is value to the material culture itself, be it buttonholes, fabric, construction or what have you. What I am saying is that 'tators, (if instructing spectators is your thing) probably would not have any exposure to certain elements of ACW material culture if you did not present them with an example.

For example: Many spectators know that Confederates often did not look "gray." Many spectators don't know that it was common for Federal soldiers to wear an Army hat, wear waist belts made out of their musket sling, or mix their coffee with their sugar so it would keep. How does a spectator find out that New York troops wore Cincinnati traps, and vice-versa? Probably the only way a person is going to find this out, (without reading a plethora of difficult to find books) is by speaking with you.

Why not provide the spectator with more than just a facsimile of the Civil War soldier? It's possible.

I'm sorry if you were offended by what I posted. However, I love this hobby just like you do. I will always encourage people to build the best impression they can, and help whenever possible. Telling people the quality of their impression isn't important doesn't cut it with me--sorry.

Bob Muehleisen
Cin, O.

Rob
10-26-2006, 01:21 PM
As a further example of this, I am often asked, "Why do you have a Confederate canteen?"

Obviously, most folks think that a Yankee should have a blue canteen, not realizing that gray or tan jeancloth was the most commonly used material for the canteen cover. This is one of many things which needs to be taught.

Army30th
10-27-2006, 08:29 AM
I'll go one step further. Unless the spectators have researched and studied for themselves, they really do NOT know that Confederates wore anything other than Gray, because public school teaches this: Confederates wore Gray while the Union wore Blue. Color hues and material structure are not part of the public school curriculum. Nor is arsenal organization and supply.

By and large the only way the spectators will learn this information is thus: either come to You, who is supposed to be "in the know"; or do their own research through other outside sources.

bill watson
10-27-2006, 07:51 PM
"This stuff is nice to know,"


So then why is knowing it the biggest fraud and red herring in the hobby?

When I see a fellow who has taken the time to get even the tiniest detail right, my confidence in his subsequent deportment and behavior goes up. However, if he wants to talk about his buttonholes, when they are there for all to see, my confidence goes down. There's "getting it right" and there's "obsessing on it." A vast difference, and an important distinction. One is pursuit of excellence; the other is probably a treatable condition.

Some of us have this affliction. Some unthinking person, a parent, teacher or other mentor, drummed the unfortunate idea into our heads that "anything worth doing is worth doing right." Here we are, decades later, in the thrall of that apparently worthless paradigm. Thank you for setting us free. It's all a red herring. Even knowing what's right is a fraud.

So what is life about? There's nothing worth doing right? Nothing worth doing? Life sucks, then we die? Those who do things right are wrong?

And no more of that faux Ginsberg or whatever that was. Speak up like a Murikan.

Frenchie
10-27-2006, 10:23 PM
Frenchie:
I was not being snotty or elitest. I am suggesting that there is value to the material culture itself, be it buttonholes, fabric, construction or what have you. What I am saying is that 'tators, (if instructing spectators is your thing) probably would not have any exposure to certain elements of ACW material culture if you did not present them with an example.
Bob Muehleisen
Cin, O.

All right, good. Mainly I wanted to see if the barrel was empty, i.e., were you a "gear god" who gets the latest and greatest so he can look down on everyone else, or someone who really does care about showing the 'tators what the boys of '61 looked like. Turns out you're the latter. More power to you, then.

bob 125th nysvi
10-29-2006, 08:41 PM
Bob Sandusky wrote: "I have seen reports of button hole seamstresses in Victorian England making 4 times in wages what a normal seamstress made."

Bob, can you please add the citation verbatim, along with the full biblio. source info.?

Cheers,

I read it just recently so I'll have to look around and get ift for you if I can. But is stuck in my mind because I've been involved in several of these conversation sover the last couple of months.

On it's face it seems logical because of the specialized nature of the work.

One letter writer in the recent Civil War Historian magazine pointed out that due to the skill of seamstress during the CW a machined buttonhole is actually probably closer to the real thing than today's handsewn reproductions due to lack of experience.

I found that interesting.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

bob 125th nysvi
10-29-2006, 08:53 PM
"ok let me show my lack of knowledge in this area, how can one tell if its machine or not?"

Mason, let me add a question to the cue: Who cares?

I realize you are new, but you will find out later on that this focus on warp and weft, handsewn versus machine sewn, vegetable dyed versus analine dyed is the biggest hoax or red herring in the hobby. No visitor ever came to a reenactment looking for a handsewn buttonhole. No spectator ever asks Hey, is that jean or satinette or is that really cassimere? No one will ever ask you if your uniform pattern was drawn and cut using period-correct scissors. This stuff is nice to know, but its importance is exaggerated. Focus on the history, not what they wore.

Big Dan

in clothing is one of the easiest things for a spectator to wrap their minds around BECAUSE they are intimately familiar with today's clothing.

Nothing gets a middle school kids attention faster than showing them a pair of drawers or putting a sack coat and hat on them on a warm spring day.

The stark differences draw them in, give them a reference point and an opportunity to touch. Very important if we want to educate or peak their interests.

Everybody buys their clothing at a store machine made in a foreign country. To handsew everything is incomprehensible to them. A combination of jand/machine sewn might just help them bridge the gap and open another door of understanding into the CW world.

The problem with today's 'facts' is they become tomorrow's nonsense. What was taken as gospel in reenacting 20 years ago is laughed at today. And our declarative statements will be tomorrow's good laugh around the campfire.

And if anybody ever invents a time machine a LOT of us are going to look pretty stupid.

The point being - accuracy is better than mistakes and an open mind serves us all the best. And as the nuns used to say - "There is no such thing as a stupid question."

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

54thovi
10-30-2006, 09:54 AM
As a further example of this, I am often asked, "Why do you have a Confederate canteen?"

Obviously, most folks think that a Yankee should have a blue canteen, not realizing that gray or tan jeancloth was the most commonly used material for the canteen cover. This is one of many things which needs to be taught.


I once had a "senior NCO" of one of the umbrella organization that my old unit belonged to that I used to belong to ask me that as well... Yikes.

John Feagin