15 Nov 2014

Vintage 1938 satin Smoking Jacket - and the Gentleman behind it

I have acquired a lovely vintage Smoking Jacket in near mint condition from the United States. The smoking jacket is from 1938 and is made of black satin with floral patterns interwoven; shawl collar and sleeve cuffs in black silk; and a fringed belt.
The jacket is very elegant and comfortable at the same time; a longed for short Robe de Chambre. A fine alternative to my long dressing gown, which is more for colder nights or for covering the pajamas.
The jacket needs a few alterations to fit me properly. When ready for use I will wear it with my business suits for comfort at night after dinner retiring to my library; or for intimate dinners at home with my dinner suit trousers, Marcella front shirt, wing collar and black tie.

Black satin Smoking Jacket

Beautiful woven floral patterns

The smoking jacket was popularised after the mid-19th century Crimean War which also introduced a widespread use of Turkish tobacco in England. The satin or velvet smoking jackets were used by gentlemen withdrawing to a billiard or smoking room after dinner; the smoking jacket would absorb the smoke from the pipe or cigar and protect the dinner suit from any falling ash. 

A Gentleman retired for a pipe of tobacco 

Oscar Wilde in his lounge - wearing a lovely double breasted smoking jacket

The Gentleman behind my vintage smoking jacket is mr. Huntley Eustace Macdonald; President of American Victor Oil Company and in 1938 a resident in Denver Colorado.

The maker of my smoking jacket: Sam Weintraub
Part of the attraction of collecting vintage clothing is also the history: the tailor; the contemporanous people and events; and the Gentleman behind the suit or jacket.
I could not find any pictures of mr. Macdonald, but I could track him via the U.S. census and voter lists and directories.
He was born in Canada in 1888, sep 13th. Immigrated to the States at the age of 21.
Were a lodger at different families wile being a Salesman in the automobile industri. In 1917 he was drafted as a 2nd lieutenant in the infantry during WW1. Somewhere between 1930 and 1933 he was married to his Lucille.
He died in 1952 in Los Angeles.

Military draft papers, 1917

Address directory. Notice the wives named in brackets

Voters list 1930, Denver. H.E. Macdonald; salesman, automobile industry 

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