Polychrome silk embroidered apron, c.1725-50. The Jacobean floral pattern is executed in shaded tones of rose and green with couched bronze metallic accents. The scalloped edges are trimmed with corded floss. The textural interest is created by the contrast of satin stitch—some padded—to a variety of fancy-fill stitches. What a sublime exemplar of satin stitch technique! NEW LISTING
Directoire hand-embroidered mull shawl, c.1805. A long rectangular shawl with wide end borders of Kashmiri botehs was the indispensable fashion accessory in the early 19th century. From the lace collection of Mrs. J.P. Morgan, the sublime shawl showcases the balance, symmetry, and stylized simplicity of a Classical Greek frieze. NEW LISTING
Silk brocade shoes with Italian heels, c.1775-1785. Under the instep of the Italian heels are wedge-like extensions, supporting the arch. With their slender heels, elegant Italian shoes were great favorites. The heels are covered with cream colored silk. The contrast with the fabric on the upper body of the shoe was considered of the last degree of chic. NEW LISTING
Rare child's red leather shoes, c.1810-1820. Made from red leather and lined with beige linen, these adorable baby shoes sport red ribbon rosettes. Red shoes with a white dress was high style fashion in the early 19th century. Very few pre-Victorian examples of such shoes have survived. NEW LISTING
Silk drawn bonnet with original decoration, c.1820. It is all original, including the decoration. The silk is drawn up in a shirred effect over rows of inserted canes/wire. I love the enormous ribbon bow on one side. The wide gossamer ribbon trim is woven with a delightful pattern of oak leaves. NEW LISTING
1790s gown remodeled from earlier block printed fabric. The fabric dates from 20 years earlier than the 1790s style. The print has an endearing charm with blushing roses in bloom and little buds in white and cerulean blue. This magnificent remodeled gown is proof that surviving period artifacts allow us to encounter the past at first hand.
Child's cotton dimity dress, c.1820-1840. Printed with small floral sprigs in a mix of hues, it was made from a corded cotton rib (dimity), produced by alternating fine and coarse yarns in the fill. The A-line shape (from the 18th century) returned in the Romantic period when skirts were shorter.
Romantic period cotton dress, 1830s. In this exemplar of Romantic period style, the sloping shoulders, small waist, puff sleeves, and open neckline connote the delicate femininity prized by the Romantics. Our dress manifests an artless simplicity that delights the eye and captivates the heart. Nothing detracts from the statement of form.
Needlepoint purse, 1830s. This small drawstring purse features different front and back needlepoint vignettes set in an overall flames stitch (Bargello) pattern. The ribbon drawstrings are original, testifying to the unaltered condition of this endearing historical artifact, a rare vintage treasure that speaks to us across the ages.
Metallic embroidered silk coif, c.1720. The Jacobean-style motifs show the influence of older Gothic designs, Indian palampores, and Flemish verdure tapestries. I have never seen such peerless perfection in embroidery outside of a museum. With their brilliant sheen, silk and metallic fibers immediately convey luxury. When used in the work of a master embroidery artist, the effect is astonishingly beautiful.
Silk print dress & pelerine, 1840s.Characteristic of the late Romantic period are the sloping shoulders, deeply pointed front waist, and full skirt worn with several starched petticoats. The silk fabric is woven with a subtle windowpane plaid and resist-printed with intertwining leaves and flowers. I love the rich café au lait color.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Cotton roller print child's dress, 1820s. 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.
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.
French-style child's cap, c.1720. Made from green silk faille, the cap has 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. An amazing value!
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.
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. 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.
Chenille embroidered satin waistcoat fronts, mid 18th century. In couched embroidery, a stiff yarn 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. A superb example of textile art.
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 Irish stitch on canvas by Catherine Steinmetz as a gift for her fiancé. Inside edges are embroidered "John Neveling/his pocketbook/October 28, 1770." What a poignant gesture of love from Colonial America! 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. 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.
Brocaded silk lady's waistcoat, c.1770. Made 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!
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.
Hand-embroidered infant's bonnet, c.1800. Made from sheer cotton muslin with insets of needle-run tulle. Embroidered florets are executed in chain stitch—they appear raised above the surface. 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!
Embroidered white cotton dress, early 1820. Anticipating 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. The endearing simplicity of the early Romantic period retains its charm and fascination even today.
American gentleman's silk jacket, 1830s-1840s. 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.
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 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 an enduring delight.
Miniature silk calash bonnet, 1780s-1830s. Made from slate blue silk in the 18th century manner with cane hoops, the bonnet has 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. Doll size calashes are extremely rare and highly collectible.
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 hand-stitched tucks (done with tiny fine stitches) above the embroidered borders are a memorable feature.