GLAM Blog Club: Collect

I’m going to start by ignoring the fact I once said I’ll try and write something every month for GLAM Blog Club. It wasn’t a complete lie…I have tried. This theme, however, is a perfect opportunity to reveal and discuss a couple of my personal collections.

Here are the two main ‘things’ I would say I actively collect:
1. Vintage and Vintage-Style Clothing
2. American election campaign pins

There are other bits and pieces I collect including World War I silk postcards and, randomly enough, letters written in Massachusetts during the American Civil War. The latter is probably the nichest collection I will ever have. Nothing, however, compares to my collecting prowess in the above mentioned categories.

1. Vintage-Style Clothing

There is a beautiful quote that I live by and it goes “old fashion, not old fashioned”. I love it because it sums up my absolute passion for collecting vintage-style fashion and how this does not reflect any negative antiquated values. The era(s) I am most interested in are the 1950s and 1960s. More recently, however, I have been eyeing off pieces from the 1930s and 1940s.

The majority of my clothing is reproduction. I do have some original vintage pieces that I tend to find at amazing stores including Retrostar Vintage in Melbourne. For vintage-style clohting, I almost exclusively buy online from American and British brands including Collectif, Pin-up Girl Clothing, Unique Vintage and The Oblong Box Shop. There are a few Australian manufacturers (shout out to Retrospec’d), but, not enough to sustain my collection. Note – I am not liable for any money you may spend at the above mentioned online shops.

So when did I start collecting? Short answer: since I was about 19/20. Long answer: When I was at the latter end of my history degree I started becoming obsessed with fashion. It’s sad when people dismiss it as something frivolous to be interested in because what we wear can tell some of the most incredible stories. It wasn’t until I started volunteering with textiles at the Queensland Police Museum and travelling abroad that I started to realise the layers of history that can be literally sewn into garments.

Today, fashion is fast and the industry has come under scrutiny for sweatshop conditions and its impact on the environment. I do sometimes purchase without thinking and I’m really trying to be more mindful and support sustainability. This means more company research and committing to buying timeless pieces that a) I love and b) serve a purpose. I find that proper quality pin-up fashion isn’t something that is produced in overwhelming quantities. It doesn’t have a perfect record, but, is something I know I will buy and not throw out two or three years later.

The pin-up/retro/rockabilly community is amazing. It is filled with extremely supportive people that throw epic events such as Greazefest in Brisbane and Viva Las Vegas. I’ve not only found something to collect that I can display everyday, but, I’ve also found a culture that I can fit right into.

Here are a couple of photographs to illustrate my love (featuring my dog and Captain America):

2. American election campaign pins

As you probably know, political pins or badges are circulated in America around the time of elections as a form of political advertising. There is evidence to suggest that pins were used as a way to support the presidency of George Washington. It wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln, however, that pins were used during a political campaign. In 1896, pins were mass produced when William McKinley ran against William Jennings Bryan (source).

They are generally quite small, relatively inexpensive (depending on the badge) and easily purchased from online political memorabilia stores and even eBay. I have around 50 in my collection representing both Democrats and Republicans. The earliest one I have is from the campaign of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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This is my favourite. A badge with ribbon celebrating the inauguration of President Kennedy.

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As you can see from the photograph below, I have quite a few badges for President John F. Kennedy. Quick tangent, I do have a collection of memorabilia relating to President Kennedy. Probably my most loved item is the board game ‘The Exciting New Game of the Kennedys’ from the 1960s. I find his presidency, and the time during which he was President, fascinating.

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I have really enjoyed the opportunity to write a bit about my own collection! I literally love how this post is like a grown-up version of show and tell. I cannot wait to read what other people collect!

Author: Rebecca Lush

Curator at the Integrated Pathology Learning Centre.

One thought on “GLAM Blog Club: Collect”

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