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Who or what the heck is 'Elinor Gay'?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by cactusandcattails, Apr 13, 2007.

  1. cactusandcattails

    cactusandcattails Trade Member

    Who or what the heck is \'Elinor Gay\'?

    I have had a few dresses with this label. Mine have been 40s and always with nice detail. One with beaded 'love' birds and this one with big embroidered pockets. I see this label into at least the 60s. I just wonder, is Elinor Gay an actual person like 'Nelly Don', or a company like 'Suzy Perette'?

    Here are some quick shots of a dress with jacket by the designer in question. I think this would be early 40s. While trying to do research I came up with a few examples but no info on the label. Does anyone have anything they could share? Lizzie?




  2. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    Because of the age of the dress I would be willing to bet that it is a line from one of those middle America companies that produced under names like Vicky Vaughn, Dorothy Dodd etc. that was not a real woman. Even Nelly Don wasn't her real name. There isn't that same use of designer's names before the war or even during the war other than for designer garments like Adrian. I am not sure when Clare Potter started using her name. Claire McCardell only started in 1941ish and she was one of the first. Its not until the 1950s that you begin to see designer names appear on American dresses and even then its for higher end stuff. Its not really common until the 1970s to have the designer's name on most clothing.
  3. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Sort of like Betty Crocker?

    I've had some great looking Elinor Gay's too. I just wish Middle American clothing was so nice now!
  4. vintageclothesline

    vintageclothesline Trade Member

  5. cactusandcattails

    cactusandcattails Trade Member

    Jonathan I suspect you have it exactly right.

    I agree Maggie and wish the same. If you want to buy a nice, well made dress today, you have to fork over some serious bucks!

    Its nice to know that at least one dress with this label has been recognized in a collection. Thanks for the link Linda!
  6. amandainvermont

    amandainvermont Trade Member

    Heh - I kept wondering why that was such a familiar name - and a famous one in history... then realized I was thinking of Enola Gay: the B-29 that dropped the a-bomb on Hiroshima. Good brain cells Amanda.
  7. cactusandcattails

    cactusandcattails Trade Member

    I kept thinking the same Amanda, and when I googled Elinor Gay, I was directed to many Enola Gay pages. :puzzled:
  8. silvia-k

    silvia-k Trade Member

  9. The Vintage Merchant

    The Vintage Merchant Administrator Staff Member

    it's great to see you here on the forums, Silvia! even though I see you on facebook quite often, it's great to see you HERE! xoxxo
    silvia-k likes this.
  10. lkranieri

    lkranieri Trade Member

    This is long after the original query, but here is trademark information about the Elinor Gay label, from 1954 patent and trademark information...

  11. Disordered

    Disordered Registered Guest

    This is really long after the original thread, but I was trying to find out more about a book written by an Elinor Gay in 1885 called "Skilful Susy". It was a book about various types of embroidered mats, screens, drapes, chairs, pillows, etc. Elinor Gay was, however, a pseudonym for Mary Gay Humphreys and E.W. Boardman. The link is here http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t1ng54c5p;view=1up;seq=7. I can't find out anything more about the history of the name, but I suspect a connection.
    Pinkcoke likes this.
  12. Disordered

    Disordered Registered Guest

    Just an update on the above: Mary Gay Humphreys (aka Elinor Gay) was a well-known writer and journalist in New York City, writing mostly under her own name, from about 1880 to 1915.

    One of her more interesting pieces was Women Bachelors in New York, written for the November 1896 issue of Scribner’s Magazine (https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015015393302?urlappend=;seq=648), which described the relatively new phenomena of unmarried, well-educated professional women living and working in big cities like New York.

    A quote: “In earning money it was only the first step that cost. A mother of the last generation once said with some embarrassment to a daughter of this, “My dear, I never have been able to understand how you could accept money from anyone but your father.” That the money was earned counted for nothing in the mother's mind. This helps to measure the distance between the old woman and the new. To the new, money earned is money owned, in a sense that gives a new meaning to life. For however the recognition may fail to satisfy our ideals, the ability to earn money is the solvent of many of the most important questions of life; its contribution to the character, moreover, must now be regarded along with patience, suffering, and other more peculiar forms of feminine discipline. To the womanly delight of spending money is added the realization of independence and power.”
    Metro Retro Vintage likes this.
  13. Vintagiality

    Vintagiality Trade Member

    I know this was a long time ago but in case anyone is still curious, we now have an entry in our label resource on Elinor Gay. Even though she was a real person (Elinor Gay Greenberg), the daughter of the company’s president and owner Harry Greenberg, while researching the label, I did not find any indication that she was involved in the design. The signature on the label is hers though.

    Here is the full bio

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