How to make life easier(?) for the Victorian tailor

While going through some pamphlets for an upcoming question of the week on the Philadelphia Bourse, I came across this one:

"The K. R. Garment Measuring Apparatus," pamphlet (circa 1895)

Having something of a background in garment construction, this immediately caught my eye and was worth another look.  According to the manufacturer, this particular device “won unstinted praise of cutters in all parts of the civilized world.”  Among the K. R. Garment Measuring Apparatus’s many promises are:


It is perfectly accurate in measurement, and the measurement for a whole suit, either for man or woman, can be taken readily in five minutes.

It is equally as easy to take measurements for deformed as for normally built persons. (oh my…)

No mistakes are possible in measuring.  No puzzling and no guess-work.

The apparatus is a boon to ladies and all sensitive persons. (huh?)

I could go on, but these pictures speak for themselves.

And how much would one have to pay to own this, um… extraordinary device?  According to the manufacturer: ” We have fixed the price of the K. R. Garment Measuring Apparatus at $100.00 (about $2500 in today’s money), and in view of the labor and expence devoted to its manufacture, this amount is extremely moderate.”

Maybe, I guess.  I could certainly see how this *might* make things a little easier for the tailor in the end.  But for some reason, I imagine that in the time it took to actually get someone in the thing and fitted properly, the tailor could have taken decent measurements the old-fashioned way with an “inaccurate” $1 measuring tape.

In 1895, folks could have gone to the Bourse to view this and other innovations in their exhibition department.  Today, the Bourse still stands a short distance away from Independence Hall on 5th Street as an office and retail complex.