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Mail order patterns were the answer for rural homemakers for the most of the 20th century.  Each magazine had a section for the homemaker to order patterns, and this included Progressive Farmer and Grit.  The list is enormous and some patterns had the designer's name and some were generic with a simply number.  The most popular collectible designers are Anne Adams and Marian Martin.  Laura Wheeler designed needlecraft patterns as well as simple aprons and lines.  Here is a partial list of other names to look for.  Ladies Home Journal, Work Basket, Ladies Home Companion, Alice Brooks, Iris Lane, Spadea, The American Weekly, Superior, Star Pattern, Priscilla, Peerless and early Pictorial Review. 

 


 

One way to help date mail order patterns is the post mark on the original envelope.

Metered Mail should be stamped.  Undated meters are as follows:

  • "SEC 564 PL&R" , 1 or 1 1/2 cent or similar = early 1930's to early 1950's
  • "SEC 34.66 PL&R" , 1 1/2 cent meter = 1950's
  • "BULK RATE" the postage helps narrow down the range:
  • 2 1/2 cent = July 1960 to Dec 1962
  • 2 5/8 cent meter = 1963
  • 2 3/4 cent meter = 1964
  • 2 7/8 cent meter = Jan 1965 to Dec 1967
  • 3 6/10 cent meter = Jan 1968 to Jun 1969
  • 3 8/10 cent meter = Jul 1969 to May 1971

If the meter has a serial number the number might give a clue to the date:

  • PB with 4 digit numbers are usually 1945 or earlier
  • PB with 5 digit numbers 01000 to 01549 or PB 55000 to 56999 are usually 1933-1940 
  • PB with 5 digit numbers 01550 to 01999 are late 1930s to 1950's
  • PB with 5 digit numbers 05000 to 05499 or  PB 5400 to 54999 are usually 1960s or 1970's
  • PB with 5 digit numbers 57000 to 59999 cane be anywhere from 1930 to 1970
  • PB with 6 digit numbers are usually 1980 and later.
Advance Butterick DuBarry
Hollywood McCall's New York
Superior Simplicity Vogue
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