Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marie Tucek and Luman L Chapman, Early Brassiere Innovators

Another early brassiere, this one from 1820, from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.



Marie Tucek early saw the need for something to hold up the breasts when the corsets were not supporting them anymore, leading to straps from the shoulders.  Here is her patent.  She explained that this bra was meant to take the place of the corset when wearing empire style dresses.  She also explained that it could be made of sheet metal or cardboard which was covered with silk and bent to the body!

I could not figure out which Marie Tucek she was in New York in 1900, 1910, or 1920.  All the Marys and Maries were either not employed or cigar makers, so evidently, Marie's invention did not prove profitable for her.


Luman L Chapman, in 1863, also proposed an alternative to the corset, addressing the need for comfort, avoiding pokey metal springs, and making it easy to put on without help.  This looks pretty comfortable, but the "puffs" are more suited to canteloupes.

I found "Lewman" L Chapman, age 40, born New York, physician, living in Camden, NJ in 1850.  With him are wife Harriett, 27, born Louisiana, daughter Louisa M, age 10, born Mississippi, son Lewman L, age 7, born Missouri, daughter Unis R, age 6, born Pennsylvania, and daughter Harriett, 9 months, born Pennsylvania.

Lewman, or Lowman, as he was called in 1860, must have decided that being a travelling physician was not much fun anymore, and at age 52 was listed as an editor, still in Camden, New Jersey.  Living at home were wife Harriett, daughters Lucy and Harriett, a new son named Vetruvivus, age 6, and David W, nine months.

In an 1867 Philadelphia city directory Luman L Chapman was listed as a corset maker, and also in 1870.

In 1870 Lewman was back to being a physician in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Maybe the Civil War had something to do with that.  At home were Harriet, Lucy, Harriet, Mary, age 12 (where did SHE come from?), and Margaret, age 8, born in Pennsylvania.

I did not find the family in 1880, but burial records indicate that a Luman L Chapman was buried in Mount Morian Cemetery in Philadelphia in 1884.  From 1874 through 1893 there was a Harriett M Chapman in the Philadelphia city directory under corsets.  This may have been Luman's daughter.  She is listed again in 1908, but with no occupation.


Harriet M Chapman had her own patented corset in 1875.  This is probably what she was making for all of those years.  It's got an inner, adjustable belt for "corpulent persons".

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