Thursday, April 5, 2012

18th Century Vacation Part 1: Gowns, Waistcoats and Sundry

I'm not sure if I should put all these pictures under a cut...I don't think it's like LJ that stretches out the "Friends" page since my blogger dashboard only ever shows a fraction of people's posts. If the layout is a problem for someone and I need to cut it, please let me know! I will not at all be offended! Maybe just a little ;)

In advance, I would like to apologize profusely for the sad quality of the photos...Coming across these items was the farthest thing on my mind that day and the only camera with me was my iphone, which is PITIFUL in low light. Plus I was shaking a little bit like a child with a Halloween night sugar high.

All these items come from the Old Exchange in Charleston, SC, and I didn't see any signs prohibiting photography or online sharing of images, so I'm hopefully not breaking any laws!

I highly recommend reading the history of the building on their website if you're curious: I probably should have because then I would've learned that "Charles Town" was the fourth-largest and purportedly wealthiest city in colonial America. Holy cow, NO idea. Anyway, super cool that pirates and signers of the Declaration alike were kept prisoner in the was incredible to press my hands against the very brick they had walked and sat on. And the ball room where George Washington danced...anyway, I may make a separate post on architecture/gardens later. 

On to the artifacts! I'll reiterate some of the labels so you don't have to squint, but I THINK you should be able to click on pictures to get them larger (Edit: NOPE. Apparently they're not ALL clickable. I've got them up on my Flickr though if it's easier to see.) If you'd like to use them elsewhere (even with the wretched quality) please ask me first :)

Knitted Mitts

"Lace fichu and cuffs, origin unknown" (uh oh, "fichu." Hallie Larkin would have something to say about that...)

Lace that appeared in a portrait in 1759

"Memorandum File" just looks like a stitched wallet to me but of course I couldn't see the inside. It's cute...I like it better than flamestitch.

"Wedding fan 18th century owned by Elizabeth Allen Deas." GORGEOUS. 

"Huguenot Relic - Ladies' silver stomacher." This was looked like doily of metalwork and spangles, and I guess would have been sewn onto an actual stomacher.


Ugh, the stitching of young girls back then makes me feel woefully inadequate.

Waistcoat belonging to unknown

Waistcoat belonging to Henry Laurens

Waistcoat belonging to General William Moultrie

Waistcoat belonging to Thomas Sumpter

And my favorites...the two gowns. It must just have been my backwoods ignorance to be surprised that both were sacques...with such a thriving international port to both the Indies and England, clearly they were a lot more cosmopolitan than I first thought! It probably should not have been such a shock to me because in my area where French colonial wills exist from 1720-50, anywhere where a silk gown was mentioned, I'm guessing it would probably have been a sacque. Again, sorry for the poor quality, the phone camera and the glare off the glass cases were not helping.

First gown, a "Dove's Neck Brocade Dress" notable for the silk supposedly having been produced in South Carolina:

Is this "fly fringe"? It's very pretty trim.

The stomacher opened down the it "compere" even if it doesn't have buttons?

 Closeup of the sleeve ruffle, and you can see the pleating at the hip just beyond it, I'm assuming to help the gown smooth over panniers or pocket hoops.

The sleeve cap/shoulder

Sorry, very poor shot of the mother would NOT let me get down on the floor and shimmy under the case to take a picture. What do you mean, polite people don't do that in a museum? Dang.

Gown #2, a "Yellow Brocade Dress":

Close-up of self-fabric trim on sleeve

Probably linen lining from what I could see of it, and I really liked the serpentine trim. 

View of the stomacher

And the woefully inadequate back-view. Very pretty gown...wish it was in good enough shape for them to put on a mannequin but the silk had so many tiny shreds in it that I'm sure they didn't want to put that much strain on it.

What do you think? Did they do a decent job dating these items? I wasn't sure about some of the wording or dates on a few labels but I'm too amateur to do any disputing. It was just lovely to have a chance to be so close to all this and I'd go back in a heartbeat if I got the chance...with a better camera.

1 comment:

  1. I am going a little bit insane right now because that waistcoat with the zig-zags? One of the waistcoats we're putting into the upcoming exhibition at the AIHA is its exact duplicate, down to the applied border. (The label says it's embroidered, but it's actually a woven design for both the body and the border.)

    That fan is in FANTASTIC shape, wow.

    I think the sacques would be 1760s rather than 1770s (or maybe up to 1773 or so), and I don't think it's likely that the first one was worn in 1791. The second one kind of looks to me - especially because the label says it was worn for a portrait in the 1920s (unless that's just unclear wording?) - like the stomacher was added later, too.