Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Exquisite Creations of Master Designers Woven from the Finest, Virgin Angora Mohair!

Alright. Even if we eventually figure out what "broad-jumper's pants" were, will we ever understand the concept of a "motor robe?"

Described as "the finishing touch of luxury," this advertisement for "Robes by Chase" (made by the L. C. Chase & Company of Boston) tells you everything you'd want to know about the available colours, weaving techniques, and superior fabrics of a motor robe...but it doesn't tell you what they're USED for.

I initially thought they were just a type of upholstery, but check out the picture: the robe is hung on a rod that's attached to the front seat, conveniently available for the driver to reach back and fondle now and then.

Was it used as a blanket during the winter? Was it a cushion in case of a car accident? The advertisement says that the motor robe "feels welcome, indeed, to silk stockings," maybe implying that stocking-wearers could put it on the seat under them, to protect their hosiery from rough seat fabric (though that doesn't explain why the women in the picture above are STARING at the thing instead of SITTING on it).

The motor robe...another of life's great mysteries.

(The New Yorker, February 16, 1929, page 48)

PS: It appears that the motor robe was patented in 1925. The only other online reference I can find refers to it as a "lap robe," which means it probably WAS something meant to keep passengers' legs warm.


Anonymous said...

those old cars had no heat - you needed the robe to keep warm at night and in the winter

Adam Thornton said...

I wasn't sure if they had heat or not...judging by the way those ladies are bundled up, I'm sure you're right. :)

Lois said...

Hey Muffy!
You are indeed a tuly well read blogger.
Where do you get this stuff?!?
It never ceases to amaze me what you blog about.
When will you do a blog on the proper way to pick something up off the floor while wearing a mini skirt?
Been there....done that....LOL.

Adam Thornton said...

Lois, the proper way to pick up something off the floor when you're wearing a miniskirt is to bend at the knees, with bum lower than knees. Obviously your legs should be together. :)

I have the "Complete New Yorker" DVD collection, so I find all this stuff by reading them chronologically, cover to cover. It's my morning ritual!

Anonymous said...

We have a motor robe by Chase. It was used in an open roadster around 1928 and belonged to my husband's parents. Since there was no car heat, people bundled up in the robe. They are exceedingly well made and ours is in great condition still. We are about to use it as a TV blanket in the winter.