Ball's Corset

Toronto Foundations:
A Brief Look

Nineteenth and early twentieth-century Toronto was the hub of Ontario's booming manufacturing industries. Among clothing manufacturers were several undergarment companies and of these, Crompton Corset Co. and Clinton E. Brush & Co. were notable.

Crompton Corset Trade Cards - 1 Crompton Corset Trade Cards - 2

Crompton Corsets trade cards. [n.d. C]

Ball's Corset Trade Card - Kitten

Ball's Corsets trade card. [n.d. B]

Today, we associate the Kensington area with the garment industry, but early clothing manufacturers' factories were scattered around what is now the downtown core. In the early 1880s, Clinton E. Brush & Co., the Canadian manufacturers of Ball's corsets of Chicago, was located near Yonge and Front Streets. Another company, Telfer and Johnson, had its offices and factory on Johnson Lane near Adelaide and Yonge Streets.

Ball's Corsets Trade Card (Adelina Patti)

Ball's Corsets trade card. [n.d. B]

"Health preserving" Ball's Corsets claimed international operatic divas such as Adelina Patti and Sophia Scalchi among its fans.

Vermilyea Corset Trade Card

Vermilyea Corset trade card. [n.d. V]

Most business trade cards were generic, with the backs left blank for the company to print its advertising information.

The Crompton Corset Company began in 1876. Its factory was located at 78 York Street, north of Wellington Street West, where the HSBC Bank building now stands. The facade of the factory has been incorporated into the new structure.

Crompton Corset Company - 1884

Toronto: past and present. p. 290. Toronto, 1884. [917.1354 M78 BR]

HSBC Building on York  St.

photograph of incorporated facade of HSBC building at 70 York St. in Toronto.

"Corset making was considered a "suitable and appropriate branch of industry" for females."

"The Crompton factory employed 350 young women and girls who produced 8,400 corsets a week in fifteen different styles, ranging from those "necessary for a child" to those for a more mature figure."

Crompton Corsets trade card - Toboggan

Crompton Corsets trade card. [n.d. C]

Crompton corsets featured Coraline, a more flexible replacement for whalebone, derived from ixtle, a plant in the Agave family grown in Mexico. Crompton held the exclusive rights for Coraline in Canada from its American patent holder.

Crompton Corset Co. billhead

Crompton Corset Co. billhead, 1895. [L54 Series 8 MS]

Even during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, there was the perception that corsets were not so much health preserving as detrimental to women's health. Corsets gradually fell out of fashion as women freed themselves from these restrictive undergarments and sought lighter, more comfortable wear. The lingerie and dress styles of the 1920s reflect this change.

J. Henry Peters Mfg. Co. Rayon lingerie fall season 1927 - Cover

J. Henry Peters Mfg. Co. Rayon lingerie fall season 1927. Cover. [687.22029 J11 AR CTCC]

J. Henry Peters Mfg. Co. Rayon lingerie fall season 1927 - P.2-3

J. Henry Peters Mfg. Co. Rayon lingerie fall season 1927. P. 2-3. [687.22029 J11 AR CTCC]

Here are some early twentieth-century catalogues featuring Canadian-made undergarments from Toronto Reference Library's Canadian Trade Catalogue Collection.

Robert Simpson Co. White goods - cover

Robert Simpson Co. White goods catalogue. Fall 1901. Cover. [381.45 R57 AR CTCC]

Robert Simpson Co. White goods - P.13

Robert Simpson Co. White goods catalogue. Fall 1901. P. 13. [381.45 R57 AR CTCC]

Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers. Woollen goods. Fall and winter catalogue, 1925/1926 - cover

Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers. Woollen goods. Fall and winter catalogue, 1925/1926. Cover. [687.02947 C12 AR CTCC]

Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers. Woollen goods. Fall and winter catalogue, 1925/1926 - P.4-5

Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers. Woollen goods. Fall and winter catalogue, 1925/1926. P. 4-5. [687.02947 C12 AR CTCC]




Citation

Corset making was considered a "suitable and appropriate branch of industry" for females.
Toronto "called back" from 1888 to 1847, and the Queen's Jubilee. Toronto, 1888, p. 326, 1st paragraph.

The Crompton factory employed 350 young women and girls who produced 8,400 corsets a week in fifteen different styles, ranging from those "necessary for a child" to those for a more mature figure.
Toronto: past and present. Toronto, 1884, p. 291, 2nd paragraph