28 August, 2011

What's Under Things? Hidden Colonial Clothing, Part II

As Tropical Storm Irene rages on (our power has flickered and gone out twice, but thankfully came back on!), now is the perfect time to showcase the crème de la crème of What's Under Things? I hope my readers along the eastern seaboard are safe and dry!

I left off with the reproduction shift and its corresponding text panel yesterday. Now, I'll continue through the exhibit to my favorite pieces, the 17th century bodice and its reproduction, the tiny lace stomacher, the 18th century stays, and the 3 busks that range from 17th to early 19th century.

The text panel for the bodice, stays, and busks.

The wonderful thing about PHM is the majority of the artifacts have a well-known and strong provenance. This is part of their mission, in collecting artifacts related to the Pilgrims landing in Plimoth and setting up the colony. This bodice's provenance is Mary Chilton Winslow, a Mayflower passenger, and they are the earliest known example, with provenance, in the United States (it is truly an amazing collection!).

The original (front) with its reproduction.
They have such an interesting shape compared to 18th century stays. Hallie very carefully examined the original and its construction, as well as the documentation. Yellow silk covered the tabs, and the decorative front was found on another pair in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection to use as influence for the repro.

Here's lookin' at you, kid!
It's really neat to see them side by side. An interesting note, what is considered the "right" side of 18th century stays is the "wrong" side in the 17th! That is, the outward facing fabric in the 18th century would be against the body/shift in the 17th.

The front of the 18th century stays.
The 18th century stays are working class, and I'm amazed they survived. They are in excellent condition, and quite small.

The back.

One of the most interesting pieces in the exhibit is this little lace stomacher. Yes, there are lots of comments on how it looks like a piece of woman's underwear! But, it is a child's stomacher.

And finally, the busks!

All are intricately carved. Note the bend in the ivory!

Originally, the busks were not a part of the exhibit. The curator and I were looking in artifact storage for 18th century riding spurs when we came across a box FULL of them! I started having dreams about the busks, and asked him to add them, as they are an integral part of a woman's attire. And viola, we have three lovely examples here!

I hope you enjoyed a look at the exhibit, and I encourage you to visit and see these artifacts in person. The museum is open 7 days a week, 9:30-4:30, and the show is up until December 31st.

These photographs are mine. Please do not take them or use them without permission.

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