Many children will be learning about Halloween (also called All Hallows’ Eve), which takes place on October 31, as well as Bonfire Night, on November 5. Take a look at our Spotlights on each of these topics to help with homework and school projects!
Children can read the Britannica article about Halloween, and check out the Activity Centre where there are printable puzzles and games, including colouring pages, word searches, crosswords, a quiz and even a step-by-step guide on how to make a witch’s hat. Please click here to visit Britannica’s Halloween article.
On November 5, bonfires have been lit across the country for over 400 years – but why? We have an interesting article about the details of Guy Fawkes and the gun powder plot, plus many activities and colouring to keep children entertained! Please click here for Britannica’s spotlight on Guy Fawkes.
(The above links will take you to straight to the activity pages with no need to log in.)
Britannica Junior contains comprehensive content for primary school children aged 5-11. Whether it is frogs or physics, gardening or geography, Britannica Online Library Edition covers it all.
To search the full Library edition of Britannica you will need a Kensington & Chelsea Library card and your PIN/password. There are three editions – for children, select Encyclopedia Britannica Junior for a simplified version of the subject.
One of our Triborough Reference Librarians, Debby Wale, has been looking through our Costume Collection at Chelsea Reference Library for references to Nylon.
Susannah Handley’s book charts the history of Nylon.
In 1931 Wilmington’s Evening Journal broke the news that a silk like fabric could be made by combining antifreeze and castor oil.
Now for the technical stuff – I promise, there will be some fab pics from Vogue as usual!
What is Nylon?
This quote was taken from the Encyclopædia Britannica (Britannica Online Library Edition, 22 May 2013 – this can be accessed with Kensington and Chelsea library membership)
In October 1938, DuPont announced the invention of the first wholly synthetic fibre ever produced. Given the trade name Nylon (which has now become a generic term), the material was actually polyhexamethylene adipamide, also known as nylon 6,6 for the presence of six carbon atoms in each of its two monomers. Commercial production of the new fibre began in 1939 at DuPont’s plant in Seaford, Del., U.S., which in 1995 was designated a historic landmark by the American Chemical Society. Soon after the DuPont fibre was marketed, nylon 6 (polycaprolactam) was produced in Europe based on the polymerization of caprolactam. Nylon 6 and nylon 6,6 have almost the same structure and similar properties and are still the most important polyamide fibres worldwide.
Nylon arrived on the scene just in time to replace silk (a natural polyamide), whose East Asian supply sources had been cut off by imperial Japan. Women’s stockings made of the new fibre were exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco and at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. The next year they went on sale throughout the United States, touching off a nylon mania that survived diversion of the fibre to military use during World War II and continued after the war with such intensity that nylon virtually established the synthetic-fibre industry.
Right, that’s the serious bit over. Those eyes that have glazed over can wake up now.
On to the nice pictures in Vogue!
These advertisements appeared in Vogue throughout 1958.
Stockings were an obvious candidate for nylon to replace silk – when they first appeared they were referred to as ‘Nylons’.
Astraka fake fur would please the anti-fur movement today, although I’m not entirely sure that poodle is impressed.
Chiffon was originally made from cotton – here is a selection of California Nylon Chiffon ads from Vogue, 1958
Above – You can see the puffball skirt is not an entirely modern invention.
The lady in the conventional yellow chiffon dress on the right is probably saying “I hope she doesn’t have to sit down in that!’
Above – are they amazed by her stylish appearance – or are they looking for the join in her hairpiece?
Nylon is extremely flammable, unless flame resistant treated. Below is an advertisement from Vogue in 1958 for a ‘flare free’ Heathcoat nylon dress.
Similar items of clothing are still manufactured today as you can see on the Heathcoat Fabrics website.
Nylon fabrics were easy to care for. As indicated in the advertisements below with women enjoying everyday activities wearing smart clothes. Smoking, drinking coffee, and possibly standing too close to the fire.
I remember being on the train in the days when people were allowed to smoke in carriages. I watched a fashionably dressed lady’s mini skirt start to melt when her cigarette strayed too close to her clothing. Luckily, I alerted her before her mini skirt became much shorter than she intended.
Shop for the shade… Nylon was available in bright, non-fade colours.
Every last thing a sweater can give. The knot and style of Wolsey, the wash and wear of Ban-lon – in specially processed nylon. Downy soft, feather light, with a dreamy eye for colour.
To bring us up to the present day, a 21st Century take on nylon, visit the Berg Fashion Library to see this article in full – you will need your Kensington and Chelsea library membership to access this.
Kanebo (Japanese manufacturer of textiles and cosmetics) are also developing ‘Biosafe’, a nylon filament yarn embedded with microscopic ceramic spheres (chemically bound to the fibres) that release a constant stream of silver ions, which has a powerful antibacterial effect.
The fabric is ideal for sportswear, high-performance gear, underwear and hospital gowns. Since the antimicrobial deodorant in Biosafe is kneaded into the fibre itself, its properties are highly durable and withstand repeated washing. Tests have shown the fabric will destroy some harmful bacteria and inhibit the growth of others, making the fabric ideal for hospitals or clinical environments.
I’m sure it couldn’t have escaped anyone’s notice that it’s Valentine’s Day this week. One of our Triborough Reference Librarians, Debby Wale, has been looking at how this day has been covered in the past.
Looking at the month of February, traditionally associated with Valentine’s Day on 14th February, I looked through Kensington Central Reference Library’s holdings of the The Illustrated London News.
The library has copies of the TheIllustrated London News from 1842 to 2000. This publication is probably best described by the Encyclopedia Britannica.
A magazine of news and the arts, published in London, a forerunner in the use of various graphic arts. It was founded as a weekly in 1842 by Herbert Ingram, and it became a monthly in 1971. It was London’s first illustrated periodical, the first periodical to make extensive use of woodcuts and engravings and the first to use photographs.
As well as serious news, The Illustrated London News had lighter articles and poems. Today, folk often complain that Valentine’s Day has become over commercialised. Looking back to 1877, we see that there were indeed a large choice of Valentine cards.
This pretty child who seems to be taking counsel from her doll – which shall I choose?
As always, there are Great Expectations from the postman on Valentine’s Day….
The customary sending and receiving of pretty love-tokens becomes the occasion of a little playful excitement among the children, especially the girls below their ‘teens’
In 1868, another rush to the door, to see what the postman brings.
And from The Illustrated London News 11 February 1899.
The ancient festival of St Valentine, of which poor Ophelia sang, has, in recent years, fallen into neglect; but although outward observance of the day may be slight, our Artist seems to be persuaded that, as the old verse has it, “Cupid still calls at a pretty girl’s door”
From the same issue February 1899 – Mardi Gras in Paris, 14 February.
On Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) in Paris the Carnival is at it’s height. Holiday-makers pelt each other with confetti until the street are ankle deep in the paper snow. The police insist that every handful shall be freshly thrown and of one colour, and that no confetti to be picked up.
Paris, of course, being the city for lovers.
The course of true love doesn’t always run smooth, as illustrated in a cartoon from February 13 1886 by S T Dodd.
As the text is too small for you to read, I’ve copied out some of it for you.
Young Smithers invests in an expensive valentine to send to his adored, Miss Jones.
He directs the same, putting his initials in the corner that she may know it’s from him.
Her Maiden Aunt, another Miss Jones, at the same address, takes unto herself the Valentine with rapture.
The day afer, Smithers calls, his adored is cold and distant, her Aunt effusive…
You can guess the rest, but on hearing of her mistake, the Aunt swoons!Smithers explains the situation to his Adored, and the “affair terminates in the usual manner” Miss Matilda Jones becomes Mrs William Smithers.
In an edition from 1900 two take A Spin on Valentine’s Day.
But of course, ultimately, diamonds really are a girl’s best friend. Just in time for Valentines day in February 1905 – The Discovery of the World’s Biggest Diamond, 29 Times Bigger Than the Koh-I-Noor. Discovered at the Premier Mine Johannesburg, weighing 3032 carats, the new diamond is compared with other famous gems.
Speaking of jewels, come along to Kensington Central Reference Library and see The Illustrated London News for yourself – just one of our many treasures!
Debby Wale, Triborough Reference Librarian
Chelsea Reference Library
Kensington Central Reference Library has almost the complete holdings of The Illustrated London News in their store.