Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Shawl Collar Cartography

Posted on: July 11th, 2017 by Lesli Larson

The Library of Congress flickr stream yields some of the best historic examples of shawl collar cardigans. During a periodic review, I surfaced these 1918 scans of baseball player Mike Donlin sporting a very heavy gauge cardigan with an unusual throat latch detail.  I’m not a baseball fan, but I can’t get enough of these Bain News Service photos of players and coaches from this very stylish era. The players dress like spectactors (in sweaters, blazers, leather shoes, and collared shirts) and the spectators are dressed for the symphony. I’d love to know more about about the knitwear makers who produced these athletic sweaters and the story behind that throat latch feature  (something that I never see on modern examples).


  1. Jason Estes on

    Is that really a shawl collar? To me a shawl collar means a lapel that rolls straight into a collar.
    The sweater in the photos does remind me of a Filson guide sweater that I have a distinct sense memory of trying on almost twenty years ago – very tightly spun wool yarn, tightly knitted, making a dense, heavy fabric that was smooth, almost oily to the touch. Maybe it was lanolin or some other treatment that gave it that distinct feel. At the time I couldn’t afford it, and nowadays the sweaters aren’t nearly as well made…but I can still remember how it felt to the hand.

  2. Lesli Larson Post authoron

    Jason- Good point about the sweater not quite meeting the formal definition of a shawl collar. I know the guide sweater of which you refer. It came in olive and navy. And I agree – the newer versions are shadow versions of the originals. Here is a not so great version of the cardigan model: I bet you could find one on an ebay.

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