We're ready for Fall, are you? Let's usher in the change of seasons on this first day of Autumn with the cover of Italian designer Leonardo Strassi's menswear catalog for Fall 1966. Featuring knitwear "sizzling with sales appeal and advertising power", the Strassi brand was a trademark and brand of Colfax Industries.
This catalog also served to advertise Ban-Lon fibers made by the Joseph Bancroft and Sons Company using DuPont nylon, which is why it is now part of Hagley Library's Joseph Bancroft and Sons Company, Miss America collection (Accession 1972.430).
The firm's namesake, Joseph Bancroft (1803-1874) began manufacturing cotton cloth using traditional British spinning and weaving technology at a small mill in Rockford, Delaware, just north of Wilmington, on March 25, 1831. The mill was built along the Brandywine River in order to take advantage of the river's water power.
Bancroft's business expanded steadily during the 1830s and 1840s as it began to produce cotton for both the Philadelphia and New York markets. In the late 1840s, Joseph Bancroft brought his two sons William (1825-1928) and Samuel (1840-1915) into the business, assuring that the company would remain a family enterprise.
During the Civil War, when the American market was largely closed to English imports, the Bancroft firm, like most other U.S. textile companies, prospered. After the war, the company developed a new bleaching process and began to concentrate on finishing cotton cloth.
In 1866, Joseph's sons, William Bancroft and Samuel Bancroft Jr., became co-partners and the firm was renamed Joseph Bancroft & Sons. The brothers continued the business after Joseph's death in 1874, and in 1889, the firm's name was changed again, this time to Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company. The company continued to expand during the late nineteenth century.
In 1929, the Bancroft Company merged with the Eddystone Manufacturing Company and soon after, it began producing a line of rayon goods and a cotton finishing process that were marketed under the trade names of "Ban-Lon" and "Everglaze" respectively.
In an effort to promote Everglaze, Bancroft became a primary sponsor of the Miss America Pageant from the mid-1940s through the late 1960s. The company helped finance the pageant and provided money towards scholarships awarded to pageant winners. Bancroft was able to promote its products using the image of Miss America.
The collection largely consists of general advertising and product information for "Ban-Lon" and "Everglaze" fashions. In particular, the collection documents the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company's sponsorship of the Miss America Pageant and the promotion of fabrics by Miss America from the years 1953 to 1967.
More images from this collection, along with images from our Joseph Bancroft and Sons Company photographs (Accession 1969.025), can be found online in our Digital Archive by clicking here.