Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

"Showboat on the Mississippi" dress silk, Mallinson's Early American series

"Showboat on the Mississippi" dress silk, Mallinson's Early American series

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Length of Pussy Willow (trade name) silk--fine soft radium-like plain weave fabric (mfr #1900) having an allover printed pattern (mfr #2761) titled "Showboat on the Mississippi." Scenes include a Mississippi steamboat, "Carnival at Old New Orleans," and African-Americans in the cotton fields and playing music. Colorway in tan, brown, yellow, gray, red, blue, green, and black on white ground #16b. One of the designs of the H.R. Mallinson & Co., Inc. 1929 Early American printed dress silks series. This design was inspired by the Jerome Kern/ Oscar Hammerstein musical "Showboat" which was in turn based on the novel of the same name by Edna Ferber. Judging from drawings by free-lance textile designer Walter Mitschke in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, Mitschke designed this print and several others in the Early American series. [NB: "radium" was the term widely used in the early 20th century for a type of supple, lightweight, plain weave silk fabric. The original cataloger of this textile compared it to a familiar silk quality.]
Mallinson's 1929 "Early American" series of printed dress silks was based on historical events and figures that were perceived at the time to consitute a shared American story. It was the last of the company's line of designs based on American themes in which each design was printed in at least seven colors, in several colorways, on three or four different ground cloths. The stock market crash and economic depression that followed made the investment in this kind of design unprofitable.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Fabric, Printed
fabric length
Date made
H. R. Mallinson & Co. Inc.
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
silk (overall material)
plain weave; cylinder-printed (overall production method/technique)
overall: 36 in x 39 in; 91.44 cm x 99.06 cm
ID Number
catalog number
T (/) 5934
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of H.R. Mallinson & Co., Inc.
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
American Silks
Mallinson's Early American
Migel-Mallinson Silks
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object