Examples of Mass Produced Catalogue Vestment From the First Half of the Twentieth Century

The following chasuble is dated to the first half of the twentieth century, likely the 1930's or 1940's and represents a style that was quite popularized by the gothic revival in combination with the age of mass produced catalogue vestment offerings. Parts of the nineteenth and especially the twentieth century, under the influence of the gothic revival, became fixated on the use of explicit Christian symbolism and so it is here that a Latin cross forms the orphrey, the material which makes up the orphrey is mechanically woven to include a figure of the Sacred Heart surrounded by four adoring angles to each aside and another, perhaps an archangel, is found below. Even the gold fabric itself has come to include repeating gothic crosses within its design.

While it may not be popular to say even in our own time -- and in part this is because our own views of the matter tend to be influenced by the even poorer quality designs and materials that would come to characterize vestments of the second half of the twentieth century -- this sort of work does mark an epoch of a noticeable reduction of the quality of the materials used for vestments -- influenced by the desire to mass produce and maximize profits. That said, this particular variation on this design is more eye catching than some of its other variants insofar as its colours are concerned, employing a nice complimentary contrast between the blues of the orphrey with the golds of the designs within and in relation to the rest of the vestment. 

By comparison, here are two other colour variants on this same catalogue orphrey design.

In looking at examples such as these, it is good to be aware of them for history's sake, and while they might appeal to some in an era of polyester and primitivist designs, it is good to remember that these examples are by no means the standard of excellence that we should aspire to. Far better would it be to select high quality silks and velvets than worrying about quantity over quality, or imagery vs not.

Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.