My project for dating vintage Butterick patterns using Butterick Fashion News flyers (Click here for an explanation) has some new information, thanks to the input of generous readers. I finally have some pattern numbers for 1962, thanks to Sarah at the Pattern Vault, and I’ve been able to fill in some missing information for other years, too. (Thank you, Monica, at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas.)
I’ve been neglecting my search for covers of Butterick Pattern News lately, because the pattern dating at the Commercial Pattern Archive (CoPA) is so comprehensive. However, if you have a vintage Butterick pattern that looks 1920’s through 1970’s and want to date it, my numerical charts at witness2fashion.com are easy to use. If you go to witness2fashion.com, under Dating Butterick Patterns 1937 -1977 you will find a chart like this one — but larger and easier to read.
You can see from this chart that simply by listing the date of a Butterick News Flyer and the number of the pattern on its cover, a numbering sequence can be established. Of course, some patterns remain available for sale in stores for a very long time, but if you’re not sure whether a pattern is late 1930s or early 1940s, for instance, this chart can help.
At witness2fashion.com earlier patterns are listed on another page: Butterick patterns 1920’s to 1937. Click on those charts to enlarge them.
I’m especially grateful to Sarah, because I still have a few years without any data from Butterick Fashion News covers, and she was able to supply us with numbers from 1962, an important year. Butterick pattern numbers reached the high 9900s by November of 1961, so re-numbering was due to begin in 1962. Thanks to Sarah, we now know that the new number sequence (1962) seems to have begun in the two thousands, skipping the one-thousands.
For some years — like 1953, 1955, and 1963 — I have not found any BFN covers, but we can deduce that the 6000 series began again in 1952, since No. 5934 was for sale in January 1952. Did numbers in the 1960’s 3000 series begin in 1963 or 1964? It would be nice to fill in that two-year gap from October 1962 (No. 2452) to October 1964 (No. 3288.) If you have a cover from a “blank” year, please send the date and front cover pattern number(s) to witness2fashion at gmail.com. Sarah scanned the covers, enabling me to share them.
In 1973, Butterick reached the end of the 6900s in March and began renumbering in the three thousands in April.
Starting a new number sequence before reaching 9999 is sometimes triggered by a new logo or pattern envelope format. Jumps in sequence (renumbering) like this are one reason that a chart is helpful in dating undated patterns. Another potential source of confusion is that the same numbers are reused every few years. (For example, Butterick pattern numbers beginning with five thousand were issued in 1924-25, 1933-34, 1949-52, the late 1960’s – early 1970’s, and again in the late 1970’s!) I have not systematically collected numbers earlier than 1924 — so far– but a new numbering sequence, ending the 9990’s and starting again in the 1000’s, began around July 1918: