plain weave; cylinder-printed (overall production method/technique)
overall: 36 in x 39 in; 91.44 cm x 99.06 cm
United States: New York, New York City
Length of Pussy Willow (trade name) silk--fine soft radium-like plain weave fabric (mfr #1900) having an allover printed pattern (mfr #2761) titled "Showboat on the Mississippi." Scenes include a Mississippi steamboat, "Carnival at Old New Orleans," and African-Americans in the cotton fields and playing music. Colorway in tan, brown, yellow, gray, red, blue, green, and black on white ground #16b. One of the designs of the H.R. Mallinson & Co., Inc. 1929 Early American printed dress silks series. This design was inspired by the Jerome Kern/ Oscar Hammerstein musical "Showboat" which was in turn based on the novel of the same name by Edna Ferber. Judging from drawings by free-lance textile designer Walter Mitschke in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, Mitschke designed this print and several others in the Early American series. [NB: "radium" was the term widely used in the early 20th century for a type of supple, lightweight, plain weave silk fabric. The original cataloger of this textile compared it to a familiar silk quality.]
Mallinson's 1929 "Early American" series of printed dress silks was based on historical events and figures that were perceived at the time to consitute a shared American story. It was the last of the company's line of designs based on American themes in which each design was printed in at least seven colors, in several colorways, on three or four different ground cloths. The stock market crash and economic depression that followed made the investment in this kind of design unprofitable.