#c403 $4,900 Sold
Silk damask pelisse, c.1815-20
The pelisse, originally a velvet coat edged with wide bands of furs, derives from garments worn in 12th-15th centuries. Its prototype can be seen in many troubadour paintings. When the modern pelisse was introduced in England in 1799 as a full-length coat, it became all the rage.
The early nineteenth century silhouette required gowns made from thin materials and with few warming petticoats; hence, the necessity for the pelisse. The evolution of fashion terms over the centuries can be confusing. A long coat for a lady in the early 19th century was called either a redingote or a pelisse.
The coat was deaccessioned from the Hildene Museum, the Lincoln family home built in Manchester, Vermont in 1905 by Robert Todd Lincoln, the only surviving son of Abraham Lincoln. I do not have documentation to show the coat was worn by a Lincoln family member. If that were established, then its value would be multiplied many times over. You can pick a number, a big number.
In 1868 Robert Todd Lincoln married the former Mary Eunice Harlan, daughter of Senator James Harlan, a close friend of President and Mrs. Lincoln. The pelisse may have been handed down to Robert's wife, Mary Harlan Lincoln. Robert later became a wealthy man, serving as President of the Pullman Palace Car Company for 20 years.
The coat was made from gold silk damask woven with a pattern of small dots. The bodice, long sleeves, and skirt back are lined with brown linen/cotton. The centerpiece of the design is the Hussar-style Brandenburg trim on the bodice.
The skirt fronts are lined with ivory silk. The collar, cuffs, and bodice front are decorated with braided trim. There are very faint indentations on the skirt fronts, indicating the coat originally had braided trim along the front opening.
The long slender sleeves are capped with elaborately ruched outer sleeves. The bodice and outer sleeve seams are outlined with corded piping. The bodice is high waisted. The skirt is slightly flared in front and full in back. The coat closes in front with concealed silk fabric loops and covered buttons.
Like his father, Robert Todd Lincoln was a top corporate lawyer before entering politics as Secretary of War (1881-1885). Robert had a distant relationship with his father in part because Abraham Lincoln spent months on the judicial circuit when Robert was a little boy.
Robert's most vivid childhood memory was of his father packing his saddlebags to prepare for his travels through Illinois. Abraham Lincoln was proud of his bright son but also saw Robert as something of a competitor. The President once remarked that he "guessed Bob would not do better than I had."
The condition is very good to excellent. The color is faded slightly on one sleeve; the underarms are lightly stained (one more than the other); and there are several small spots. The coat is structurally sound and displays beautifully.
The coat, which is small, probably belonged to a teenage girl.
It measures: 30" bust, 25" high waist, 14 1/2" from shoulder seam to shoulder seam, 26" sleeve length, 9" from the shoulder to the high waist, and 49" from the shoulder to the front hem.