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Hi! Need help dating this piece please? So much appreciated.

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Show and Tell - Share your treasures' started by Erika Lara, Oct 25, 2020.

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  1. Erika Lara

    Erika Lara Registered Guest

    Hello forum members! If anyone has information for me on this piece, I would greatly appreciate it. The manufacturer is a man named Ben J. GAM. I've had no luck researching this manufacturer/designer, other than his connection to Rita Gam and her connection to Grace Kelly in the 50s. So I came across this dress a couple of years ago, a hand me down from my mother's friend in Los Angeles. My mom knowing I have an appreciation for vintage decided to give it to me to wear. Well it was always to small, and now it's too big, lol! So I tried researching it, but I can't find anything except for three dresses that are from the 1930s. I really don't think this is a 1930s piece, though. At all. It looks 50s to me, but again, I can't find anything on this manufacturer in the 50s to help me with this dating process. Any help would be appreciated, lol! Thank you. 2020-10-24-21-11-27-667.jpg 2020-10-24-21-10-13-101.jpg 2020-10-24-21-04-46-401.jpg 2020-10-24-21-04-27-208.jpg 2020-10-24-21-05-38-202.jpg 2020-10-24-21-12-37-375.jpg 2020-10-24-21-10-37-485.jpg 2020-10-24-21-12-06-844.jpg
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2020
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  2. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    This is a beauty! Ben J. Gam was a high-end dress manufacturer, and from a newspapers.com search it looks like the label was active from the mid 1940s through the mid 1950s. Wilson Folmar designed for the label, although I can't say if others also did. Rita Gam was Ben's daughter.

    Is it possible to tell if the dress was shortened? I'm a little surprised it isn't long, as it seems most of his dresses were formal evening gowns. I would say it dates from the late 1940s.

    This is a label we ought to add to the Label Resource. Would you mind if used your label photo, giving you credit?
     
  3. Vintagiality

    Vintagiality Trade Member

    Beautiful! I would have said very early 50s. I see a few shorter cocktail dresses by him in 1952.
    Here is an example
    upload_2020-10-25_22-17-43.png
     
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  4. Linn

    Linn Trade Member

    I see early '50's also - unless as Maggie suggests it has been shortened. It's stunning!
    Also, some of the Ben J. Gam pieces you found for sale that are dated '30s look '50s to me!
     
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  5. Erika Lara

    Erika Lara Registered Guest

    Oh my goodness ladies!!! Thank you! Yes, please feel free to use the label for the resources! I'll have to check tomorrow about the dress being shortened.
     
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  6. lkranieri

    lkranieri Trade Member

    I found a June 1943 news item about the start of Ben J. Gam's business: "Ben J. Gam, former associate of Jimmy Rothenberg, the evening dress man, has put his shingle up on the 14th floor of 530 Seventh avenue."

    I then found this November 1952 news item, although I saw no follow-up, so I don't know for sure if this happened then: "REPORT BEN GAM TO DISCONTINUE--Ben J. Gam, manufacturer of evening dresses, declined to comment yesterday on reports that the firm which bears his name will shortly discontinue its business. The firm has no spring line in production as yet, but is understood soon to be selling holiday wear on which production has been completed. The firm, it is understood, has not withdrawn from the Affiliated Dress Manufacturers. Ben J. Gam occupies office, factory, and showroom space on the 14th floor of 530 Seventh avenue."

    I will try to find confirmation of their closing date, so you have some parameters for your dress/gown.
     
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  7. Vintagiality

    Vintagiality Trade Member

    I did find evidence of their existence through 1955. I can post after work
     
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  8. lkranieri

    lkranieri Trade Member

    It looks like Ben J. Gam died in August 1956...

    BenjaminJGamDeathClipped1956.jpg
     
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  9. Vintagiality

    Vintagiality Trade Member

    Totally makes sense then. Here is the last reference I found from Feb 1955
    upload_2020-10-26_14-8-9.png
     
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  10. lkranieri

    lkranieri Trade Member

    OK, this will wrap up my Ben J. Gam research:

    -- I found "Ben J Gam drses 530 7Av" above "Ben J Gam 173RivDr" (presumably his business address above his home address) in 1948 and 1949 NY city directories

    -- I found only "Ben J Gam 173RivDr" in the 1953 NY city directory (so I assume he was no longer in the business)

    -- I found a Ben J Gam at 792 ClmbusAv in the 1959 Manhattan city directory, so the death information I posted above may not be for the same Ben J Gam or the 1959 city directory Ben J Gam may be a different Ben J Gam (Edited to add: See later post on this)

    -- I found 1951 and 1953 ads for Ben J Gam dresses, but they both looked like ads from stores that sold closeout items: "Sold to Raymond's" and "Bearing labels not only of the fine Florida shops they came from..." and that would mesh with the 1952 article about the business closing
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
  11. lkranieri

    lkranieri Trade Member

    Oops...sniped by Victoria again. So you agree with the 1952 closing date then, Victoria?
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
  12. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Lynne, Victoria—you two are the BEST. And thank you Erika, for allowing us to use your label for the Label Resource.
     
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  13. lkranieri

    lkranieri Trade Member

    One last thought about the 1959 Ben J Gam in the city directory....when my father and father-in-law died, both of the widows moved to smaller places but kept the phone numbers in their husband's name, for security reasons, so anybody with nefarious intent would think there was still a man living in the house. I think that is not an unusual practice, so perhaps this is what happened there, too.
     
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  14. Vintagiality

    Vintagiality Trade Member

    The last real ad and not closeout sales like the Raymond's one was from July 1952 so I would agree that the business likely closed in 1952 and some of the garments were on sale through 1955.
     
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  15. Vintagiality

    Vintagiality Trade Member

    One other tidbit I found though not label related is that Rita Gam wasn't actually his daughter
    "Born in Pittsburgh, Rita was the daughter of Milton MacKay, from Alsace-Lorraine, and his wife, Belle (nee Fately), from Romania. Her father died when she was four, and she later took the name of her Russian-born stepfather, Benjamin Gam."
     
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  16. Erika Lara

    Erika Lara Registered Guest

    I haven'tquite figured out how to navigate through these posts from my phone, lol! But holy moly! The information you have all found has been amazing!! I tried locating info on my own, but I guess you need a paid subsctiption for newspaper.com and others. So I seriously appreciate the wealth of information you have all given me. And I think the dress was shortened. It looks professionally altered but it was. Fabric was uncut, just hemmed up. Do you think it'sworth it to undo the alteration? The piece is already so fragile.
     

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