Tag Sale of Fashion History

A tag sale to end all tag sales starts Thursday, April 11 and runs through Saturday. The collection and memorabilia of Elizabeth S. Brown, noted fashion historian and a church friend of mine, will be sold by antique dealer Evelyn Gordon over the three day period. Antique dealers, decorators, window dressers, fashionistas — and I — will be ogling mannequins, jewelry, hats, lots and lots of dresses, antique toys, furniture, postcards, and memorabilia. Her collection has been called “an epic labor of love.”

I expect prices to be pretty reasonable because Brown has generously donated many of her museum-quality 18th and 19th century fashions to her alma mater, Cornell, and most recently to the fashion school at Houston Community College.

The first exhibition of the more than 4,000 donated items opened in Houston last August, called “Steampunk,” Victorian demeanor paired with punk rock rebellion. This clip is a veritable tutorial in how to pair the very old to make something very new. To quote the press release,  Steampunk Chronicles: The Elizabeth S. Brown Fashion Collection will explore 19th century fashion silhouettes and details along with industrial revolution images that have combined with current fashion to create the Steampunk aesthetic.

Brown is also known for her collection of antique sewing machines — she has all versions, from wonderful pieces of furniture to early historic ones. Her extensive array of dolls –everything from vintage barbies to “dolls of all nations” — are very reasonably priced, and they are all made IN the country that they represent. Brown tells of one doll that is NOT on sale, as below:

“I have always collected Harper’s Bazaar, and I have the first issue, in 1868,” says Brown. “I used the blue fabric, the extra yardage from my grandmother’s trousseau, and I used a pattern from Harper’s Bazaar for a visiting dress for the doll — and then I couldn’t find the doll, after it was on exhibit at FIT. I had used a pattern for the hoopskirt from the Newark Museum. But Evelyn (Evelyn Gordon who is doing the sale) found the doll. I told her I was looknig for a doll from 1868. I brought her home, I didn’t leave her there to sell.”


I just came back from the first day of the sale — it was stand-in-line-only, for an hour, in order to get in the house. But from here on, you will be able to get in. I came away with a magnifying glass on a gooseneck stand, a Terrible Towel from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and $40 worth of jet beads for jewelry making. The house is chock full — there is plenty left..

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