Date: c. 1880s
Origin: United States
Brand: Warner Bros
This c. 1880s booklet produced by the Warner Brothers is mostly dedicated to describing the Coraline material used to bone their corsets.
On pages one and ten, customers are alerted that salesmen may attempt to fool them into believing other materials are Coraline, with warnings such as “The various cotton and manilla cord imitations of Coraline are no more to be compared with this tempered Coraline than lead with the finest tempered steel.” There is also concern that customers may be sold fraudulent imitations of Warner Brothers’ corsets, as they are told to check for the Warner Brothers name on the bottom of the box and the letters W.B. on the inside of the corset steel.
The main section of this booklet is dedicated to answering the question “What is Coraline?” Coraline is described as a material extracted from the elastic bristle-like fibers of the ixtle plant native to Mexico and some parts of South America. Claims of its benefits include that Coraline possesses an elastic quality that is natural, and therefore permanent, that grows even more elastic with use — “This is particularly noticeable in our bosom pads, and in the bust of the Health corsets.”
Warner Brothers also claims that Coraline is more durable than whalebone, and is better suited than whalebone to achieve the goal of a corset, which was to provide “that degree of rigidity to the waist and chest which shall five graceful curves to the counter of the body, and enable the dress to fit smoothly.”
On page 10 of the booklet, there is a guarantee for a $10.00 reward for any corset where the Coraline breaks with six months’ ordinary wear. Actual prices of the corsets are not included in this booklet.
There is also a page dedicated to describing the Warner Brothers’ factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut, including the building’s size and comfortable working conditions. The factory’s 1,200 employees were described as “mostly New England girls.”
Within the Underpinnings Museum’s collection is a c. 1890s Die Cut Corset Trade Card By Dr Warner’s which also calls attention to the Coraline material, as well as a ‘Rust Proof’ Style 602 Flossed Corset By Warner which is heavily structured with Coraline and a number of steel bones.
Many thanks to Summer Anne Lee for the object description and research.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska