Category: antique baby names
And though we wrote all the name entries ourselves, we’re constantly re-encountering names that we maybe kinda forgot existed and now appreciate anew. Wow, we think. That’s a cool one. Wonder if it will ever come back?
This just happened to me with the name Cyrilla. The boys’ equivalent Cyril is handsome if a bit effete for the modern world, though it may get rediscovered thanks to the revival of the similar Cyrus and Silas. But what about Cyrilla? That’s a cool old name that’s at once exotic and familiar, highly unusual — there were NO girls named Cyrilla recorded on the most recent Social Security list — yet not invented. Besides being the feminine form of the Latin Cyril, it’s also a botanical name for flowering plant found throughout the tropics.
So I nominate Cyrilla as a name that’s ripe for revival. What are some old names you think might become new again?
Photo of antique doll from Kathy Libraty’s Antiques at Ruby Lane.
There was a time when I did a lot of writing about antiques and collectibles, in the course of which I amassed five or six tall bookcases fully stocked with volumes on everything from Mickey Mouse memorabilia to model trains to Meissen porcelain. But since I’ve become almost exclusively Berry-focused, I keep thinking I should cull the collection and make room for my ever expanding assemblage of international name books. Yet something always stops me.
Just today, I was thinking I would drop off a few books at least at my local library, but every time I’d pick one up—Golf Collectibles, say, or Depression Glass—something would impel me to put it down. And why? Because each one is filled with names of one kind or another, names that just might be of interest to the Berries as antique baby names.
So, to justify (or not) my ambivalence, I thought I’d browse through a few of them to see what I could come up with, trying to avoid the proper names of makers, but looking for words with baby name potential. Here’s what I came up with—see what you think.
Amberina–an amber glass made with a gold powder, used in art glass
Do you want a vintage name for your daughter but are hoping to uncover a hidden treasure from the past? We combed the popularity lists in search of cool vintage names you may not have heard before.
But what about the names in the Top 1000 of 1910 that are virtually unknown now? A hundred years ago, Helen was the number 2 name for girls, right behind Mary. Mildred was number 8, Ethel number 13, and the dubious Gladys hot on her heels at 15. You don’t meet many Ethels and Gladyses (Gladysi?) anymore outside the nursing home.
Several months ago we looked at the Lost Names of 1880, and were surprised by how many there were. We declare ourselves surprised anew by how many lost names we’ve located on the 1910 roster that are different from those we listed in the 1880 story.
The first group are not lost, exactly, as they’re still heard from time to time. A few — Blanche, Lula, Viola — may even make a comeback. But most of these names, popular in 1910, have been in mothballs for decades now and may never make it out.
I still remember my first Jane Austen experience. I was turning twelve, on the cusp of becoming a teenager, when my mother bought me a collector’s box of Austen novels. As I read my fresh copy of Pride and Prejudice – well worn and loved by now! – I was captivated by Miss Austen’s eloquence, truth, and charming wit. But, I soon learned that Jane’s books were a treasure trove of another kind. Beneath the tales of heartache and true love lay another gem – the names!
The first names chosen by Austen are very much reflective of the early 19th century England. These names embody the traditional, conservative styles preferred by Englishmen at this time, and they convey a sense of strength, sophistication, and substance. Monikers used by Austen continue to thrive on today’s popularity charts, yet, like Austen’s novels, they will always be regarded as classics.
Handsome, sturdy choices for boys include Charles, Henry, James, John, Thomas, and William. Names with a slightly more vintage sound include Edward, Edmund, Frederick, and George. All of these names, in addition to sounding distinguished and elegant, come with immense nickname potential. Tired of Freddie? Your little Frederick could just as easily become Red or Fritz.
Some of the names chosen by Austen reflect the growing trend towards using nicknames as names. Most notably, perhaps, is Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price. Not so keen on using Fanny as a full name? Try its longer form – Frances! Other nickname names for girls include Kitty and Lizzy, for the lovely Bennet girls of Pride and Prejudice. Moving on from these shortened forms, we enter a world of demure sophistication and understated feminine charm in the form of classic names for girls.
When it came to looks and style, Marvin had it all. Decked out in saddle shoes, mustard yellow corduroy pants, and a maroon V-neck sweater, he had a commanding presence, and owned any room he entered. A creature of few words, Marvin was a cartoon connoisseur who also enjoyed more serious fare like Punky Brewster and Silver Spoons. An avid athlete, Marvin delighted in playing Frisbee, and never flinched, even when the plastic disc was speeding directly toward his forehead. Granted, to most, Marvin was only a three-foot-tall stuffed monkey with Velcro hands, but to me, he was my silent partner in crime and constant companion throughout my childhood. He was the Sonny to my Cher.
While Marv and I shared many adventures, from the time we earned a whole dollar selling warm lemonade to parched pedestrians, to the summer during which he accompanied me to overnight camp (because taking a giant saddle shoe-wearing stuffed monkey to camp is totally cool), our best times were definitely had together on family vacations.
When Marvin and I were in first grade, my parents took us, along with my older brother, on a trip to Boston, Massachusetts, where I quickly developed a love of American History. I adored the architecture and historical sites (never mind that I thought Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables was actually “The House of Seven Gay Bulls”), and Marv and I enjoyed wearing Minutemen hats while walking on the Freedom Trail and visiting Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.