This Little Maid Buys Her Hosiery at Mabley & Company's Bazaar [trade card]
Mabley & Co
Ink on paper
AC0060-0000145 (AC Scan No.)
Caucasian woman, brown hair, back to viewer facing right, wearing yellow kimono, purple sash, holding dark purple fan in right hand. This image also used by: H. Alexander (Boots), Bell's Buffalo Soap, George R. Lyon (Druggist), Holbrook & Taylor (Boots), and Adam & Westlake Manufacturing Co (Stoves).
Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History
Treasures of American History online exhibition
National Museum of American History
Gift of E. I DuPont deNemours & Co.
In 1928, the E. I. DuPont de Nemours Co. hired Wallace Carothers Ph. to conduct pure research in any area of chemistry he chose. His interest was in the construction of long chain polymers, similar to those found in nature. There was no product in mind when he and his team began their work, they simply wanted to learn as much about large molecules as possible. The work done by Carothers and his team lead to the discovery of polyesters and polyamides. DuPont went with the polyamides, and nylon was born. It was the first fiber produced entirely in the laboratory, and was introduced to the public in the form of women's stockings at the 1939 World's Fair. Nylon stockings went on sale May 15, 1940, and were a smashing success. Prior to the production of nylon stockings, American women wore stockings made of silk or rayon. By 1942, nylon stockings were taking twenty percent of the stocking market. With U.S. entry into World War Two, nylon was declared a defense material and withdrawn from the civilian market. Nylon's most famous use during the war was as a replacement for silk in parachutes. However, it was also used in ropes, netting, tire cord, and dozens of other items. So many uses were found for nylon that some referred to it as the "fiber that won the war." When the war ended, nylon stockings were brought back and quickly replaced silk and rayon in the stocking market.
This is the first pair of experimental nylon stockings made by Union Hosiery Company for Du Pont in 1937. The leg of the stocking is nylon, the upper welt, toe, and heel are silk, and cotton is found in the seam. The nylon section of the stocking would not take the silk dye, and dyed to black instead of brown.
Hosiery manufacturer in Gastonia, North Carolina, started in 1938. History of company by Mr. Sumner and notes from an interview with Mr. Sumner by Craig Orr in Archives Center control files.
Archival records from the Sumner Hosiery Mill, including two documents relating to the construction of the hosiery; a booklet of product samples entitled "Sumner See-Shells Fall and Winter Shades", 1952; a scrapbook containing articles, packaging, photographs of the product, and of models wearing it; and numerous advertisements for the hosiery and for stores selling it.
Sumner Hosiery Mill Records, 1946-1957, Archives Center, National Museum of American History