January sale

Jones & Higgins department store catalogue 1933

The department store Jones & Higgins of Peckham, London closed in 1980 and I missed visiting it. Established in Rye Lane, Peckham in 1867, one way or another they had a presence on the street for over a hundred years. It is quite amazing – living in a city large enough to have (had) department stores in its suburbs. As getting ‘up town’ was often a long trek, local shopping high streets assumed more importance and grandeur in London, providing everything you might need.

In 1933 the January sale at Jones & Higgins was announced with this lovely small booklet. The woman illustrated on the cover seems to be ready to shop, her fur streaming out behind her as she leaps in to sale action. She is very smart, reduced to a few lines and a silhouette, in the way of fashion illustrations of the period. There are some nice deco-ish typefaces used on the cover, too.

Furs were big news in the sale, whether as a whole coat or as collars of Beaver, Skunk Opossum and Fox. Then on offer is a selection of ‘art silk’ rayon smart evening frocks made in the workrooms of the store. Then smart or useful day frocks, followed by a page of dresses for the mature lady or ‘matron.’ Flipping past gloves, hats, stocking and shoes, vests and dressing gowns, knickers, petticoats and corsets, children’s wear, overalls and jumpers, we come to just four pages for boys and men, including pants with ‘extra spliced seats, knees and pockets.’ On through dress fabrics, net curtains, linens, carpets to some very ugly dark furniture that firmly turns its back on modernism. Lastly, some flowered tea services and glass water sets in a ‘Tudor design.’ Eek.

This is both a sale preview booklet and a postal catalogue. The crack in the back of ‘real’ shopping was happening in 1933 too. All in all it is all aimed at a solid unadventurous customer, uninterested in rocking the style boat. Not quite the streamlined offer the flighty moderne lady on the cover might suggest.

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