Want to know how to research a brand or vintage label or date an vintage item? Here are some of the tools that may be helpful to research the history of vintage clothing…
Vintage Fashion Guild – Links for labels, fabric, fur, hats, lingerie
eBay – Search current and especially past sales for information, labels, photos, etc
Dressandtextilespecialists.org (PDF Download) – Wash codes on garment labels, specific to the UK
Fonts in Use – Look up font styles by decade with the search box
Logo Search, also called Design Marks – A bit tricky to use, but very helpful once you understand how
Union Labels for Hats with images and links
Vintage Labels – This group is for labels from the 1930s through to the 1960s. This can be clothing, shoes, or jewelry.
Date My Vintage – Victorian~70s- Antique & Vintage Clothing Dating Help NO SELLING/VALUATIONS
Antique & Vintage Jewelry Detectives: Identification, Discussion, Study – The purpose of the group is to help each other solve jewelry mysteries, share new additions to our collections, post research resources, and generally talk about anything related to vintage jewelry. See more jewelry resources below.
More Facebook groups about vintage fashions, buy/sell, and discussion.
Brand Name / Designer / Item History
Ancestry.com – Search the entire Sears Catalog collection. They also have newspaper archives, designer names, and other useful resources. Membership required. Free Sears catalogs can be found at Wishbook Web (mostly toys and gifts). christmas.musetechnical.com has Sears, Montgomery Wards and JC Penny catalogs. Archive.org also has some catalogs.
Vintage Ad Browser – Not a fashion catalog but a collection of old advertisements, organized by topic or date. Search by brand, too.
Retro Musings (UK) – A large collections of images, ads, and catalogs organized by topic or brand.
The Costumer’s Manifesto – A wonder source for old catalogs, books, patterns, sewing manuals, and historical costume illustrations.
Outdoor Recreation Catalogs & Magazines from Utah State University – Has a large collection of magazines and catalogs related to outdoor sports (hunting, hiking, climbing, running etc).
Hathitrust.com – Search a brand name here and you may find patent information, brand advertising, trade magazines, etc.
FTC RN Database – Look up a registered identification number (RN) or WPL (up to 1959) from the vintage label.
Canada’s RN database – CA Identification Number search.
Telephone Number Search LOC – Have a business phone number? Look it up.
Google Scholar – Search for a name and see if a historian has written about it in a book or publication.
Google Books – Search for name mentions in general books. Also use the advanced search for Magazines and other print sources. Worldcat can search for books or articles in libraries near you. Ask your local library or university library what paid databases you can have access to for free for even more resources.
Google Patents – Search patent number or named designer.
Vintage Jewelry Research
Antique & Vintage Jewelry Detectives: Identification, Discussion, Study (Facebook) – The purpose of the group is to help each other solve jewelry mysteries, share new additions to our collections, post research resources, and generally talk about anything related to vintage jewelry
CJCI Costume Jewelry Collectors Int’l (Facebook_
The Jeweler’s Index (annual) by Keystone Publishing Company, 1922
Indian Native American Jewelry Artists & South West Shop Hallmarks
I will keep adding resources as I find them. If you have some recommendations I can add here, please contact me.
I will NOT help you date/value/identify a clothing or jewelry items or research brand names. The requests I get are overwhelming and too time consuming for me to handle. Please use these resources here!
Debbie Sessions has been teaching fashion history and helping people dress for vintage themed events since 2009. She has turned a hobby into VintageDancer.com with hundreds of well researched articles and hand picked links to vintage inspired clothing online. She aims to make dressing accurately (or not) an affordable option for all. Oh, and she dances too.