Saturday, April 30, 2016

A 17th century night cap

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A 17th century night cap

All antique needlework is to be admired but sometimes you see an item and you can’t help a little gasp of delight escaping.
29.315 COSTUME cap; nightcap circa 1640-1660 overall: 180 mm Man’s night cap made from red silk velvet cut in six conical sections embroidered in metal threads with pomegranates and embellished with spangles. Said to have belonged to Major Buntine.
29.315 Glasgow Museum
In 2006 Glasgow Museum acquired a 17th century nightcap made of six panels of  red silk velvet  and richly embroidered with pomegranates in silver threads.  The raised and padded work is exquisite.
The main areas of the design are in couched and laid work with each four rows of thread stitched down and staggered with the next four rows to form a basket weave.
Pomegranates were popular motifs from the 1520’s through to the late seventeenth century and is a sign of fertility and of Jesus’ resurrection (see POST for more information).
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When King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile re-conquered Granada from the Muslims in 1492 they added the pomegranate to their Royal Coat of Arms.
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It was popular in England when their daughter Catherine of Aragon married Prince Arthur and later Henry V111. Her daughter, Mary I used the pomegranate as her personal device.
Queen Mary I
Queen Mary I
The nightcap’s design is heavily influenced by Turkish Bullion Embroidery. England’s trade with Turkey was well established during Elizabeth I’s reign as a treaty between the Queen and Sultan Murad III in 1580 ensured unrestricted trade.
Murad III
Murad III
The Levant company was formed and from which the East India Company evolved in 1600.
The nightcap belonged to Magor Hugh Buntine who distinguished himself during the Civil Wars. Cromwell made him Master of the Horse in Scotland yet he also was involved in the Restoration of Charles II.
His early life has not been recorded but after the Restoration he prospered and the night cap reflects his position in society amongst the gentility.
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In the 1600’s night caps sat on top of the head but by the mid 17th century nightcaps had become shorter and sat snugly around the crown.
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This change was due to the fashion for periwigs driven by Charles II. Men started to shave their heads so that their wigs would sit comfortably. When they removed their wigs at home the night caps ensured their heads were kept warm.
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Samuel Pepys’ diary entry for November 3rd 1663 notes:-
By and by comes Chapman, the periwigg-maker, and upon my liking it, without more ado I went up, and there he cut off my haire, which went a little to my heart at present to part with it; but, it being over, and my periwigg on, I paid him 3l. for it; and away went he with my owne haire to make up another of, and I by and by, after I had caused all my mayds to look upon it; and they conclude it do become me; though Jane was mightily troubled for my parting of my own haire, and so was Besse, I went abroad to the Coffeehouse, and coming back went to Sir W. Pen and there sat with him and Captain Cocke till late at night, Cocke talking of some of the Roman history very well, he having a good memory. Sir W. Pen observed mightily, and discoursed much upon my cutting off my haire, as he do of every thing that concerns me, but it is over, and so I perceive after a day or two it will be no great matter.
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With the assistance from the Art Fund, Glasgow Museums purchased the night cap in 2006 for £2640 at auction with Christies. It was previously in the collection of Christopher Gibbs and Harris Lindsay.
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Friday, April 29, 2016

Two books divided by four centuries

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Two books divided by four centuries


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“The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608” is one of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s greatest treasures. Aside from “Shakespeare’s First Folio”, it is the only book in the collection to have had an entire exhibition devoted to it, in 2004.
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Its five hundred and ninety-four oversized pages depict life in Shakespeare’s England in all of its brilliant complexities – from the mythical to the mundane, the poetical to the practical, the religious to the secular.
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Thomas Trevelyon, the compiler, was a skilled scribe and pattern-maker who had access to a stunning variety of English and European woodcuts, engravings, broadsides, almanacs and emblem books which he transformed from small monochrome images into large and colourful feasts for the eyes.
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Ostensibly created for the entertainment, education and edification of his friends and family, Trevelyon’s miscellany is a lifetime achievement that continues to delight and mystify modern audiences, with its familiar scenes of domesticity and husbandry intertwined with epic Protestant and political epitomes: accounts of the rulers of England and the Gunpowder Plot, descriptions of local fairs, the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge and astronomy according to Ptolemy, illustrations of the nine muses and the seven deadly sins, of Old Testament history and household proverbs and whimsical flowers, alphabets and embroidery patterns.
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This massive volume provides an exciting and unparallelled snapshot of the passions, concerns and everyday interests of a highly talented London commoner.
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It is a monumental work that was intended to be both studied and enjoyed, its pages turned and savoured.
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If you would like to study  Thomas Trevelyon’s 1608 Miscellany, Folger Shakespeare museum has made it AVAILABLE online. Embroidery patterns seem to start on page 9 although many of the images throughout the book would lend themselves to motifs.

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Most needleworkers will have heard of Yvette Stanton who is a highly respected needlework teacher and author of needlework books. Many will have her books in their library and will be delighted to hear that Yvette’s eighth book, and her second on Hardanger embroidery will be released in June 2016.
Early-style or traditional Hardanger embroidery is different from much of the Hardanger that is being worked today and the book will:-
  • Distinguish what makes early-style Hardanger different from contemporary Hardanger.
  • Help you to understand how to correctly and accurately work the stitches and techniques of this traditional-style embroidery.
  • Provides both left- and right-handed instructions are included.
  • Learn to avoid problems, and have the self-assurance to fix any mistakes you make.
  • Will give you the confidence to use your new skills to create ten attractive early-style Hardanger embroidery projects.
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For more information and to pre-order your copy click HERE. As soon as we have our copy we will be back with a detailed review and a project from the book.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Outlander Period Costumes

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Outlander Period Costumes

The second series of Outlander is well under way  and we are seeing some wonderful period costumes from the 1740’s whilst Jamie and Claire are in Paris.
Costume designer Terry Dresbach is known for her love of period dramas, and she outdoes herself in the new season.
I am not sure that Claire’s costumes are all historically accurate but this can be forgiven as Claire (in the spirit of the story) would have collaborated with her dressmaker bringing design elements from the 20th century. The costume below is very “Dior” from the 1940’s, 200 year later but Claire’s “real” time.
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Whilst Claire’s costumes are stunning what has really caught my eye this week is the embroidery on Master Raymond’s (the apothecary) coat.
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I wonder what stunning costumes the next episode will bring?

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Queen Victoria's Unmentionables

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Queen Victoria’s unmentionables

Coming up for auction today APRIL 23rd at CHIPPENHAM AUCTION ROOMS is a selection of Queen Victoria’s intimate linen. What would that grand old Queen think of all the world inspecting her unmentionables !
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Also coming up for auction on April 26th with ELDREDS is a selection of finely embroidered baby/children’s garments
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Friday, April 22, 2016

Parfilage and Oakum Picking

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Parfilage and oakum picking

The great and the good

Fancy needlework has always been a great outlet for upper class ladies and the eighteenth century was no exception.
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In the 1800’s it was very fashionable for the ladies of Marie Antoinette’s court to employ stilettos and punches for “parfilage”, also known as “drizzling” or “ravelling”.
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This craze crossed the chanel and rather than making an item of needlework English upper class ladies spent their time unpicking gold and silver lace from their gowns and cloaks, unravelling old shoulder-knots, brandebourgs, and epaulets. image
Discarded brocade dresses trimmed with gold and silver lace were pulled from attic trunks to be stripped of their value.
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Prince Leopold took it up and apparently spent most of his leisure hours in drizzling. He used a tortoiseshell drizzling box that had belonged to his wife. Inside this neat little box were spools upon which the silver and gold threads were wound prior to being taken to a jeweller who purchased them. With such Princely approval drizzling was much in vogue, never mind the destruction of beautiful fabrics and tapestries
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You could purchase “pantins” specially made-up of gold or silver lace so that you might have the pleasure of unravelling them, thread by thread.  Gold lace was made from real gold in this period; Dutch metal had hardly been invented.
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Drizzling was also done by genteel ladies who who needed money. Madame de Genlis, in her ” Memoirs,” wrote how a diligent lady might unravel enough old gold and silver lace to sell for as much as 80 livres in one year.

The unfortunate and the bad

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If you have ancestors who were in a workhouse or a prison during the 18th and 19th centuries, then they may well have been employed at junk and oakum picking.
Junk was the name given to old ropes and cables once used on ships. These were cut up and then finely picked into fibres to create oakum. Oakum was then mixed with tar or crease and used as caulking to fill in the gaps between the wooden planks of ships to make them watertight.
Picking oakum was used as a punishment in prison, and in workhouses as a way of able-bodied inmates earning their board and lodging.
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Prisoners serving hard labour would cut the rope into two foot lengths and then strike it with a heavy mallet to remove the very hard tar in which it was coated. Once this was done, it was passed to prisoners who were serving a lesser sentence: men, women and children. They then had to uncoil, unravel, unpick, and shred the rope into fibres. The work was monotonous, unpleasant and created sores on blackened fingers. The rope was held in place by a iron hook held between their knees as they worked. Sometimes they would use an iron nail or spike, or a piece of tin or knife to work on the fibres, but fingers were found to be the best.
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In 1824 at one prison there was a complaint by the authorities that picking oakum was too easy. Punishment by the treadmill should be preferred to oakum picking. It was argued that ‘the former had a physical and moral effect, while the latter sedentary work which gave opportunities for ideal and immoral conversation’; and in 1823 at the Halstead County Bridewell, it was reported that “the prisoners have hitherto been employed in untwisting and picking oakum, but a tread mill is now erecting.”
Some prisons stopped oakum picking entirely, swapping it for the treadmill or solitary cells, while others still enforeced it, particularly for women.
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After the Poor Act of 1834, workhouses began to employ their inmates at oakum picking to pay for their food and lodging. Often very elderly people with their arthritic fingers or children were forced to work at the oakum.
In 1862, girls under 16 at Tothill Fields Bridewell had to pick 1 pound (0.45 kg) a day, and boys under 16 had to pick 1 1⁄2 pounds (0.68 kg). Over the age of 16, girls and boys had to pick 1 1⁄2 and 2 pounds (0.68 and 0.91 kg) per day respectively.
Charles Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist mentions the extraction of oakum by orphaned children in the workhouse. The oakum extracted was for use on navy ships, and the instructor said that they were serving the country.
At Coldbath Fields Prison, the men’s counterpart to Tothill Fields, prisoners had to pick 2 lb (0.91 kg) per day unless sentenced to hard labour, in which case they had to pick between 3 and 6 lb (1.4 and 2.7 kg) of oakum per day.
In some dockside areas entire families of oakum pickers that were very poor or desperate, bought the old rope from marine store dealers at 1½d. per pound and sold it back at 2d. per pound. A very sorry income for the work involved.
Oakum picking made your fingers bleed and pickers developed thick black scars on their hands from this work. They also suffered tendonitis, bursitis, nerve damage, and all those other conditions that result from repetitive stress motions.
The introduction of iron ships meant the demand for oakum declined, and this, with more enlightened attitudes to punishment and looking after the poor, meant the practice of oakum picking was dropped from the workhouse and prison régimes.
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