The weather is wonderful at the moment, definitely the nicest French November that we can remember. So we took advantage of it yesterday to some sorting out in the barn. Our barn is huge and has become a bit of a dumping ground for, well, everything. It was getting out of control so well overdue for a quick tidy up.
We soon filled the trailer with old papers, two broken vacuum cleaners, empty containers, sacks, and a load more things. But then I came across some of my old magazines so work rapidly ground to a halt as I was quickly sidetracked into looking through them. I was delighted to find a copy of La Mode Pratique dated 11.11.1911, one hundred years old to the day!
La Mode Pratique took over from La Mode Illustrée, which I have previously blogged about. It took on a tabloid format and became a little more downmarket, in there are lots of classified and other ads, far more than in Illustrée. There are even, heaven forbid, boobs, although they’re only cartoon ones!
All the ads are on the four outer pages of the paper, as was common with many publications of the time. They seem to be mainly about slimming …
… whitening your teeth, and staying regular.
The paper proper opens with an editorial about ‘la pluie’, rain. It’s very flowery, describing rain as ‘les larmes du ciel’ – heaven’s tears – and talks about how it makes us ‘douloureuse’ and inclined to ‘la mélancolie’. But there’s a nice picture of an afternoon dress to cheer everyone up.
Next comes, in full colour, an embroidery template. It’s a copy of the pattern on Louis XVI’s armchair. But you only get the first half. You’ve got to buy the next issue to get the rest!
Tucked into this page of the paper was the delivery slip that had been around it. It bears a Paris postmark, and the date of 8-11-11. This copy of LMP was sent from Librairie Hachette et cie, Boulevard St Germain 79, Paris to Madame Dubois, Notaire à Lepaud. Now, this ties in with the fact that we know a Notaire lived at Les Fragnes. We thought he was a Beaufils, but I’ve come across the name Dubois in other of my researches. But the address? It looks like M Dubois had a practice at Lépaud then, about 30 kms away, as well as locally. How would he have got there, I wonder? It’s something of a mystery having Mme Dubois mentioned here. Other adresse labels we’ve come across have been for Les Fragnes, or even neighbouring Les Combes. Some detective work to be done.
On with the paper. There are several pages about fur coats …
… followed by an article about children’s hats …
… and then some lacemaking patterns.
There’s advice on how to make your table look attractive …
… and then a discussion of what we should be decorating our hats with. Chunks of dead bird seems to be the answer!
More dresses are pictured, this time for visiting in, and there’s more about embroidery and lacemaking.
Now comes something really interesting. ‘A propos des dots Mode Pratique’ is the title. A ‘dot’ is a dowry, and it transpires that LMP has been collecting donations from readers in order to be able to give small dowries to three ‘travailleuses’, working class girls one assumes. Lucky J-G will be getting 2 457,50 francs. (A franc in 1910 was worth €2.69 in 2006 which is good enough for our purposes, so this comes to €6610 in current terms. Pas mal!) This would presumably have made a huge difference to someone’s life.
Below this is a long discussion of how to treat ‘engelures’, chilblains. Rubbing with camphor mixed with ‘essence de térébethine’, a type of resin, was the best treatment. I’ll bear that in mind as I’m prone to these horrid red lumps every winter.
The last page of the main paper has a selection of short articles about current products – a corset, knitting yarn, furs, anaemia treatment, and then there’s the Agony Aunt bit. Frou-Frou answers questions that have been sent in by readers. ‘BDG’ is told that her unsightly problems can be cured by Dr Galud’s special course of treatment. He has an ‘appareil électrique’ which will kill off unwanted hairs (early electrolysis) and his injections of sterilised wax will eliminate wrinkles and facial deformities. Altogether now – eeuuw. ‘Lectrice-assidue’ is told that she will learn everything she needs to know about feminine health if she gets Dr Séréno’s masterpiece ‘Ce qu’une femme doit savoir’ by writing to him at 14 rue Thérese in Paris for a copy.
Two more pages of ads to wade through. The last of these is a full page spread entitled:
It’s all about keeping your kidneys healthy. What you needed, depending on your exact symptoms, was a bottle of either Jubol for 5 francs, Urodonal for 6,50, Globéol also 6,50 and Filudine for 1o francs. (Euro equivalents 13, 17.50 and 27.)
So they you are, a look at a popular women’s newspaper from exactly 100 years ago.
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