Posted by: Jillian Povarchook on November 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm

The MOV’s current temporary exhibition, From Rationing to Ravishing: The Transformation of Women’s Clothing in the 1940s and 1950s, draws from the private collections of fashion historians Ivan Sayers and Claus Jahnke. In its collection, MOV also has a large amount of fashion related artifacts, and while very few of them are seen in From Rationing to Ravishing, a great number of them are now available on the MOV’s online collections database, openMOV.

Over the past 6 months, with financial aid from the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s BC History Digitization Program, MOV staff have digitized over 2400 accessories from this collection of fashionable artifacts, including hats, shoes, handkerchiefs, fans, and jewellery.

To view all of the artifacts digitized in this project, search the keyword phrase BC Digitization 2014 on openMOV. Here, though, we share a few artifacts that would fit in perfectly with the stunning pieces featured in From Rationing to Ravishing, as well as the stories of the women to whom they belonged.

Pink skullcap hat with black braid, c. 1955-1965: H984.128.11
Donor: Estate of Mrs. Iby Koerner

Born to Hungarian-Jewish parents in 1899, Ibolya (Iby) Koerner became actively involved in community life in Vancouver after arriving with her husband and daughter shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

During the war years, Mrs. Koerner was an active volunteer at the Shaughnessy Hospital Red Cross Lodge, as well as a member of the Vancouver Art Gallery Women’s Auxiliary Committee. After the war, she served on the board of the Community Arts Council, later becoming heavily involved with the Vancouver International Festival and the Community Music School, now the Vancouver Academy of Music.

After her death in 1983, a donation of clothing and accessories was made by her estate to the Museum, including this hat. It is representative of the variety of hats Mrs. Koerner would have worn to various charity and cocktail funtions.

Navy straw picture hat, c. 1948-1955: H985.33.10
Donor: Miss Nora Nedden

Purchased in Vancouver sometime between 1948 and 1955, this hat belong to Miss Nora Nedden. Miss Nedden was born in England in 1903 and educated at a convent in Ireland. She came to Vancouver in the late 1910s to live with an aunt and uncle, Captain and Mrs. Nedden and remained in Vancouver for the rest of her life, save during the Second World War when she served with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in the RAF.

Miss Nedden was a noted South Vancouver socialite, active in the Southlands Riding Club and in charitable organizations such as the Alliance Française, CNIB, and St. John’s Anglican Church.

Royal Canadian Air Force handkerchief and mailer, c. 1940-1945: H980.62.2
Donor: Miss Jane Rittenhouse

During the Second World War, Jane Rittenhouse joined the WRENS (Women’s Royal Navy Service), working mostly as a supply clerk in Halifax. After working a variety of jobs in Toronto after the war, Ms. Rittenhouse moved to Vancouver, where she began an active volunteer career, working largely within Kitsilano.

For some time, she spent more hours than a full-time work week working on volunteer activities with organizations such as the Kitsilano Neighbourhood Association. She served on the Local Area Planning Committee, the Community Resources Board, and the Parents Book Committee, among others, bringing her expertise to numerous projects such as the development of local day care centres, seniors’ activities, and the production of a Roger's Cable documentary.

It’s likely this handkerchief was one of many mass produced for fundraising purposes. It would have been folded into the mailer and sent to those deployed in service overseas.

Flower shaped brooch, c. 1950s: H997.26.28
Donor: Ms. Sonya Kraemer

From a very early age, Sonja Kraemer adored jewellery, for she saw it as a means to feeling beautiful and being accepted by others. Born in Vancouver in 1958, she moved with her family to rural Richmond when she was six years old. Her mother came from a middle-class family in Germany where the proper clothes and the right appearance and image were very important.

Kraemer was in her early teens, c. 1968-1972, when she began to purchase jewellery for herself; her first purchase was at Woodward's. Between the years of 1980 and 1981, Kraemer worked in a curio shop, "Aleksandra's" where she took jewelry in lieu of a salary until she became a sales clerk. "Aleksandra's" was at 312 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, until it closed in 1981. Most of the jewelry in this collection came from Aleksandra's.

This brooch features rhinestones with an “aurora borealis” treatment, so called because it gives the stones an iridescent quality similar to the Northern Lights. The treatment was introduced by Swarovski in 1955 and became a very popular trend in 1950s costume jewellery.


MOV wishes again to thank the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s BC History Digitization Program; without their financial support, this project would not have been possible.


Posted by: Jillian Povarchook on July 9, 2012 at 11:48 am

At the MOV, I work in storage. Sometimes I wish I could do this in the dark as there are some artefacts that make my imagination run a little too wildly in the wrong direction. I avert my eyes as quickly as possible when I am in the general vicinity of the following things: a Sto:lo sculpture of an anthropomorphic figure holding a salmon, a life sized papier-mâché sculpture of Mike Harcourt in jogging gear, and the mounted head of some prehistoric thing that looks like Jabba the Hut.
What I love to look at most, however, is always in my line of sight; our Curator of Collections was lovely enough to hang it on the art rack right beside my desk. It is the Pacific Press Chapel Slipboard (catalogue no. H2011.58.11a-x) and it is beautiful.

Pacific Press chapel slipboard

The term “chapel slipboard” is almost an artefact itself, a holdover from a time when labour organizations were largely illegal and union members met under the guise of attending “chapel meetings”. This particular slipboard was used from 1957 to 1997 to manage rights to union work for members of the International Typographical Union (ITU) working at the Pacific Press newspapers (the Vancouver Sun and The Province) in Vancouver. The slipboard hung in the Pacific Press composing room, eventually located on South Granville St. at West 6th Ave.

Though most workers at the Pacific Press belonged to the Vancouver Typographical Union Local 226, the slipboard system allowed ITU members from all over North America to find work in Vancouver. The travelling printer’s “slip” (a card showing their name and trade skills) was placed on the substitute board (on the right as you face the board). Regular chapel member’s names are shown in a separate area (on the left as you face the board), which was kept under lock and key. The chapel chair (union representative) operated the slipboard, which was used to determine shifts, days off, and vacations based on seniority. If a regular member wished time off, they could hire a substitute to cover their job for up to 30 days.

I love the visual history contained on this board as I’m sure union activity as described above is now conducted on a computer. It must have been very stressful as a travelling worker, waiting for your slip to be selected from the board and Mike Harcourt in paper machesatisfying when it finally was. It must also have been very satisfying as a regular member to see your name move up in seniority over the years. In fact, the names of the regular members on this board were the last members of Local 226 to negotiate lifetime employment with Pacific Press, a concept that today must sound completely alien to many ears.

Even if this artefact lacked such a detailed union history, I would still love it. It’s a stunning object, the raised brass letters casting slight shadows on the backing board which is painted a curious shade of Wedgewood blue. And there is something very romantic about a list of names kept under lock and key. I see them out of the corner of my eye every day, taunting my imagination to compose elaborate back stories for the men (and maybe few women) who would print the news for the entirety of their working lives.

There are some downsides to working in storage — there are no windows, it often feels cold and damp, and the spooky papier-mâché silhouettes of former mayors lurk around dark corners. It’s not too bad of a trade-off, though, getting to gaze upon and learn about objects whose lives are often much longer and more storied than our own.


Posted by: Jillian Povarchook on February 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Vancouver olympic legacy collectionRoughly five months into cataloguing and digitizing the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Legacy Collection, it can be stated that the process is a lot more exciting than it probably should be.  Along with the torch Wayne Gretzky used to light the Olympic Cauldron and the racks of intricate costumes worn by performers in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, there are also boxes of paper material containing years of licenses, correspondences, and memos.

It’s a common assumption that paper material seldom equals gripping material. But among the inter-office scraps are pockets of brilliance, such as a collection of sketches and photographs used as inspiration for VANOC’s signature “Look of the Games”: the sweeping green and blue graphic vistas peppered with prototypically West Coast and urban motifs. It’s inspiring to leaf through a folder and see how hand cut stencils were incorporated into a design that became a second skin for Vancouver during the Games of 2010.


Vancouver Olympics stampFor the philatelists among us, international post bureau websites have been scoured to acquire information regarding Olympic issue stamps. Blindly trying to decipher Cyrillic characters on postage stamps quickly lost its novelty, but it’s fascinating to see which sports countries chose to depict. Seemingly few pandered to their Canadian host. Most stamps feature skiing, whether alpine or Nordic, over ice hockey. A personal favourite are those from Hungary, which rival the Vancouver 2010 mascots in terms of a sense of unbridled joy (or cuteness, if we’re going to get really technical).

Speaking of the mascots, we have become well versed in the surprisingly elaborate backstories of Quatchi, Miga, Sumi, and Mukmuk. This is in addition to charting their evolution from simple line drawings to 3D renderings to officially licensed Olympic merchandise and full-sized costumes.

Vancouver Olympics laughing quatchiWhile to date it has been fulfilling to discover these gems (we’ve got roughly another 1,200 objects to go), it would be a lie to say handling the medals and the torch hasn’t been a highlight. The medals are astoundingly heavy; frankly, it’s a wonder exhausted athletes didn’t crumple under their weight. Even more astonishing are the number of hands both the medals and the torch passed through, from their inception to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the nightly Victory Ceremonies.

Many of us watched as athletes bit down on their gold medals, or as the Olympic flame was passed from torch to torch. But not many of us got to watch as a print of an orca’s dorsal fin became a medal struck at the Royal Canadian Mint. The technical prints and sketches allow us to visualize the massive collective effort behind Vancouver’s Games of 2010. This is why the paper material ends up being much more gripping than one would initially expect.


Jillian Povarchook is the MOV's Collections Associate.

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