Cotton print gown, 1770s-80s. Made from sheer white cotton dimity printed with a repeat pattern of sunny floral sprays, this "informal" gown is nevertheless in the "high style." The contrast of delicate flowers to the geometric textured pattern of the corded weave is of the last degree of charm. The robe á l'anglaise style has a fitted bodice back and closed bodice fronts. NEW LISTING
French embroidered silk waistcoat fronts c.1780. Made from cream-colored corded silk fabric backed with linen, the lavishly embellished waistcoat fronts offer an opportunity for up close examination of an exemplary piece from the late Rococo period. The silk fabric is embroidered with a floral pattern of matching heavy silk floss. NEW LISTING
French beaded cotton evening dress, c.1805. Here is the quintessential and revolutionary Neoclassical style: the Empire waist; wide, open neckline; and a small back train. The peerless Directoire dress is covered with opaque white Bohemian glass bugle beads. Speaking to us across two centuries, the endearing charm is just as fresh and irresistible as when worn to a first grand ball.
French gentleman's or boy's silk coat & waistcoat, 1780s-1790s. What a treat to find an 18th century garment with the original buttons and trim! An inventory description written in French and handsewn onto the lower front corner of the coat states that the fabric is blue moiré silk with silver braid trim and silver buttons. Judging by the small size, the ensemble from a French collection probably belonged to a young man or boy.
Directoire hand-embroidered mull shawl, c.1805. This masterpiece of Neoclassical design has Kashmiri design motifs embroidered on sheer white cotton mull. Each end features exquisitely rendered wide borders of Kashmiri botehs. The balance, symmetry, and stylized simplicity of the pattern is reminiscent of a Classical Greek frieze, e.g., the Elgin Marbles Parthenon frieze.
Silk gauze rectangular shawl, 1810-1820. The fresh lemon hue in the resplendent shawl is like the afterglow of the sun, still illumining the horizon with its beauty two centuries later. The summer weight shawl is sheer and delicate. The two black panels are bordered with pink ribbon weave; the pink panel is bordered with turquoise ribbon weave. The floral motif is remarkably free in line, effortlessly limning the gay and sprightly feeling of a spring day.
Hand-quilted silk cape, 1830s. To accommodate the fuller skirts of the 1830s, full capes reappeared in fashion. Made from brown silk satin, the cape is padded for warmth. It closes down the front with fabric loops and small covered buttons. The fullness is controlled with deep pleats below the yoke. Although straightforward in design, the cape has delightful details that resonate over the centuries.
French brocaded silk taffeta open robe, 1780s. Made from glowing silk taffeta with purple rib weave stripes and small ivory brocaded flowers, the regal gown can be worn as a traditional open robe or pulled up à la Polonaise. The charming compères are decorated with appliqués of cut-out stripes and pleated ribbon. The luxe golden brocade from the Ancien Régime retains an incandescent afterglow even today.
Cotton roller print child's dress, 1820s. Cotton roller print child's dress, c.1820. The style of a short puffed sleeve over a long straight sleeve, common in adult women's dresses of the period, rarely turns up in a child's dress. The dress is roller printed with a pattern of alternating foliate stripes. The cheerful combination of mustard, turkey red, and ivory is perfect for a little princess. The fullness of the bodice can be adjusted with cords inserted into casings.
Woman's lace-trimmed pantalettes, 1820s. Around 1806 the French created the female version (pantalettes) of men's drawers. But pantalettes for adult women were only a passing fad and rarely come onto the market. This important Romantic Period artifact should end up in the hands of a museum or major collector, the cultural custodian of our common costume heritage.
French-style child's cap, c.1720. Made from green silk faille, the cap features a raised work design of flowers and heraldic-style motifs executed in padded, couched embroidery of silver metallic thread. The delicate shading in the embroidery conveys the refined sophistication of aristocratic art forms: the edges of several flowers change gradually from muted yellow to roseate pink. What an an amazing value for a 290-year-old cap dating from before George Washington's time!
French boy's silk waistcoat and breeches, c.1800-1820. As the Neoclassical style evolved, exuberant floral designs of the Rococo were replaced with simple stripes. Here the design cleverly mirrors the aqua stripes. The narrow stripes in the aqua silk waistcoat result from alternating a satin weave with a textured twill weave. The aqua color is repeated as narrow stripes between the floral stripes of the breeches.
Gentleman's silk faille waistcoat, c.1780-1795. Informal antique clothing with exceptional style is very hard to find, as it was generally worn until it fell apart. The charming waistcoat displays beautifully. The striped silk faille fronts of the waistcoat have set-in pockets with flaps.
Hand-embroidered wedding corset, c.1820-40. Made from ivory cotton, the charming corset has superb embroidered detail. In addition to fine trapunto cording, the corset is totally covered with hand-embroidered flowers. I love the two embroidered love birds on hearts at the center-front. I like to imagine the bride-to-be filled with love and anticipation as she did the embroidery.
Native American deerskin slippers, c.1820s. Most early Colonial shoe styles were hand produced and worn until they died; very few examples survive. These are hand embroidered with a chain stitch pattern of abstract florals. The upper edge is bound with navy silk ribbon. The soles are leather. An extraordinarily rare and fine artifact of early American history!
Provençal hand-quilted waistcoat, c.1800-30. Made from golden yellow cotton and lined with beige cotton and a thin layer of batting. The layers are hand quilted together with a diamond pattern of perfect little stitches. The brilliant marigold hue has long been associated with Provençal plant dyes of wild sumac, saffron, and sunflower petals. The bold and brilliant color signals the joie de vivre of the South of France: the sun showering its life-giving warmth on plants and people alike.
Girl's silk cloak, c.1790-1820. The hand sewn cloak is fashioned from brown silk and is lined with pink glazed cotton. It is padded for warmth and closes in front with two sets of ties. The neckline has a double row of ruffles that show when the hood is down. The fullness of the hood can be adjusted by a silk ribbon drawstring tie. Amazingly for a 200-year-old cloak, the condition is almost excellent and all original.
Federal Period gentleman's decorative silk waistcoat. By the end of the 18th century, men's waistcoats had evolved to a shorter length with a straight bottom. The elaborate floral damask pattern is reminiscent of hand-embroidered patterns found in earlier waistcoats. The fronts of the waistcoat are fashioned from black silk satin lined with beige linen.
Folding needlepoint pocketbook with provenance, c.1759. Stitched in wool on canvas in a flame stitch (bargello) pattern. One rarely finds an important mid-18th century historical artifact with rock solid provenance. The name of the original owner, Josiah Stone, is embroidered on the inside opening. On p. 9 of Handbag Chic, this pocketbook estimated at $4500-$5500.
Gentleman's folding pocketbook, c.1770. Worked in wool Irish stitch on canvas by Catherine Steinmetz as a gift for her fiancé, it is lined with green silk, and the edges are bound with brown wool tape. Inside edges are embroidered "John Neveling/his pocketbook/October 28, 1770." What a poignant gesture of love from Colonial America! It was used to carry important papers. Also included is a 4-page handwritten letter by Nancy Quimm Sailer, presenting her research on the pocketbook.
Infant's hand-embroidered dress, c.1815-1820. The infant's dress, open in the back, is lovingly decorated with fine hand embroidery, tiny tucks, and bands of pointed trim. The pointed trim is completely hand stitched from the same fabric as the dress; the time it took to produce the trim boggles the mind. The dress has the original drawstring to adjust the neckline fullness. There runs through the artless decoration a charming vein of simplicity.
Brocaded silk lady's waistcoat, c.1770. The cone-shaped waistcoat fronts are fashioned from brocaded peach corded silk. From a distance, the texture of the corded weave resembles very fine line-quilting. The plain back and straps of silk shantung match the color of the fronts. The ripe peach hue is gorgeous! The silk ground is covered with brocaded flowers in shades of rose, green, blue, and ivory. What a delicate, feminine floral design!
Embroidered white cotton dress, early 1820. This dainty dress anticipates the change from the Neoclassical to the Romantic period. The waist is still high as in the Empire style, but the skirt is flared and fuller in our dress. The bodice and sleeves have alternating rows of sheer ruched cotton mull and hand-embroidered eyelet. Bands of eyelet alternating with rows of trapunto cording form a wide hem border both decorative and functional. The endearing simplicity of the early Romantic period retains its charm and fascination even today.
Hand-embroidered infant's bonnet, c.1800. Made from sheer cotton muslin with insets of needle-run tulle. The embroidered florets are executed in chain stitch—they appear raised above the surface. The bonnet has drawstring ties on the lower edge and along the front. The purity and restraint of textured white stitches on a sheer white ground perfectly suited the Neoclassical aesthetic. A wonderful gift for a beloved infant!
Regency child's hand-embroidered dress, c.1810. The Persian-style Tree of Life design on the skirt front is borrowed from Indian palampores. The refinement and delicacy of the peerless embroidery in wool floss is the work of a master embroider. She changed the embroidery color on the sleeves—front vs. back. A masterful historical artifact of early costume art!
American gentleman's silk jacket, 1830s-1840s. Made from beige raw silk, the wonderfully preserved, single-breasted jacket closes in front with self-covered fabric buttons. The cut is straight in front and flared below the waist in back and on the sides. It features a rounded collar and notched lapel, long straight sleeves, and 2 lower, side-front, slashed welt pockets. The jacket is completely hand stitched with matching silk thread.
Dresden embroidered organdy skirt, early 19th century. Dresden Embroidery was a form of whitework popular in the 18th century. The open work designs, when executed on sheer cotton muslin, were delicate enough to resemble lace. The skirt is made from whisper-sheer white organdy and hand stitched with extremely narrow seams. The hem is edged with a wide scalloped border of fine Dresden hand embroidery.
Child's printed cloth, heelless shoes, c.1830. I love the printed cotton with its tiny Xs and vermicular background! The heels and toes are foxed with black leather, and the upper edges are bound with folded ribbon. The hand-stitched shoes close in front with ties. Remarkably good condition for such an important historical artifact.
Child's Berlin woolwork slippers, c.1840. Berlin woolwork or needlepoint was often used to fashion slippers in the mid 19th century. After a lady completed her needlework design for the uppers, she took it to a shoemaker to be attached to soles and then lined. The upper edges are trimmed with bottle-green silk ribbon that forms bows in front. The artless simplicity of the embroidered design is a delight to the sophisticated modern eye.
Chenille embroidered satin waistcoat fronts, mid 18th century. In couched embroidery, a yarn too stiff to pass through the fabric is tacked down by another lighter yarn that can be passed through to the backside. The chenille yarn is couched on the satin surface with fine silk floss. The embroidery artfully balances positive and negative space in the fern-and-floral motif to achieve a rich and complex design. The embroidery is stitched through both layers. A superb example of textile art.
Damask gaiter boots, 1830s. Side-lacing half boots with toe and heel foxing of contrasting leather were called gaiter boots, because they resembled gaiters (spats) worn over shoes. This pair features deep green damask uppers lined with ecru cotton canvas twill and foxed with black leather. The boots lace up on one side with the original lacings. Though impractical for serious walking, gaiter boots make the foot appear dainty and genteel.
Miniature silk calash bonnet, 1780s-1830s. Made from slate blue silk in the 18th century manner with cane hoops, the bonnet features the traditional silk ribbon bow at the center-back and additional ribbon and leaf decoration at the front-top. It might have belonged to a favorite doll originally, since the calash came from an estate where it had been passed down, complete with a matching stand, as a treasured family keepsake. Doll size calashes are extremely rare and highly collectible.
Dresden embroidered mull pelerine, 1830s-50s. The heirloom quality piece is an exemplar of fine early whitework. The open work designs of Dresden embroidery, when executed on sheer cotton muslin (mull), were delicate enough to resemble lace. Pelerine shawls, where the front was longer than the back, became popular as skirts became fuller in the 1830s. The shape continued to be worn throughout the 1860s.