Museums I Visited

Between 2013 and 2017, I visited a dozen museums and saw more than 100 caps.  Here is a list of the museums*, and the artifacts I saw at each one.

INSIDE OUT: REVEALING CLOTHING'S HIDDEN SECRETS Kent State Museum
https://www.kent.edu/museum/event/inside-out-revealing-clothings-hidden-secrets

Each is listed with its museum dates. Those deemed eighteenth-century for this project are starred.

Many more leads could not be followed up because of time constraints.  More caps with eighteenth-century dates exist than were supposed, and, one assumes, more will be discovered.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

#49.366 18th C. * (child)

#49.370 (infant)

#51.238 (infant)

#45.787 (infant)

#99.848 1820’s

Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, Washington DC

#200.10.2 18th C. *

#1203 1777*

#78.65.9 1805

#82.138.9 1820

#2005.13 n.d.

#2464.2  1800

#1817 n.d.

#98.54.5 n.d.

#4510.2 n.d.

Kent State University Museum, Kent, Ohio

#1995.017.0467 1860

#1995.017.0399 1860

#1983.001.1493 1840

#1995.017.0455 1860

#1990.086.0002 1840

New Canaan Historical Society, CT

#CE 237 n.d.

#CE 419 19th C. *

#E169 19th C

#HS 19th C

#269B 18th C (Dutch)

#CE 173 18th C

#CE 164 18th C

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, DC

(Which is not the same thing as the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, in NYC. Their textiles section was under construction at the time of this study, so I didn’t get to see their artifacts.)

#274535.2 late 18th C

#220965.20 late 18th– early 19th C

#6608 1780-1800*

#1971.1162.28 1800-1899

#254326.2 late 18th –19th C

#372.213 n.d.

#312686 n.d.

#6608-A 1775-99 *

#6700-B 1790-1810 *

#6609-B 1790-1810

#6608-B 1795-1815*

#6608-D 1775-1799*

#6608-C 1775-1799*

Charleston Museum, Charleston, SC

#HT1836 1820-1830

#HT1693 1820-30

#HT2908 (1722-1837)

#1855 late 18th C*

#2008.029.002 n.d.

#HT 4196 (a, b, & c.) n.d.

#2008.029.003 n.d.

#2006.041.003 Early 19th C

#HT6815 n.d.

#HT6392 1820

#HT 1641 n.d.

#HT1650 n.d.

#HT1644 n.d.

#HT1867 Late 18th C

#HT1868 n.d.

#HT5884 n.d.

#HT 1839 1790

# HT1876 n.d.

#HT 1872 n.d.

#HT1694 1850

#HT 1710 1850

#HT6309 1857

#HT1881 early 19th C

Genesee Country Village and Museum (Susan Green Costume Collection in the John L Wehle Gallery)

#88.195 1825

#2001.026 1800-1850

#87.213 1770-1800*

#91.70 1750*

#2004.102 1800-1850

#97.024 1815

#98.036 1750* (on display)

Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent

Note: closed until further notice!

#87.35.825 1750-1800*

#87.35.138 1800-1860

#87.35.827 1750-1800*

#87.35.826 1750-1800*

#1973.37 n.d.*

#1000.179 n.d.

#1000.176 n.d.

#87.35.994 1820

Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA

#1989.1891 n.d.(?)

#1989.1892 1800-1840

#1989.1890 n.d.(?)

#1989.1912 1800-1840

#1989.1903 n.d.

#1989.1882 1800-1840

#1989.1883 1800-1840

#1989.1886 1800-1840

#1989.1897 1800-1840

#1989.1902 1800-1840

#1989.1962 n.d.

#1989.1893 1800-1840

#1989.1894 1800-1840

#1989.1914 1800-1840

#1989.1954 (1953?) 1800-1840 (?)

#1989.1959 n.d.

#1994.3270 1790-1810*

#1989.1995 1790-1810*

#1989.28.11 n.d.

1990.21.3 n.d.

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Gallery, Delaware

#1955.0003.013 1760* (child)

#1969.4675 1750-1800*

#1982.0064 1774-1826*

Henry Whitfiled State Museum, Guilford, CT

#942020 18th C or 1827

#955003D n.d.

Musee McCord Museum, Montreal, Quebec

M987.32.1 1785

M987.32.2 1785

M965.136.86 early 19th C

M980.4.26 late 17th-early 18th*

*The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, NYC., and  Historic New England, (fromerly Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA)), Haverhill, MASS have caps with  eighteenth-century dates, but these 3 museums were undergoing renovations during the period of this study.   ?????

 

The Second Round-Eared Cap: Smiths 6608B

[1st draft. ]

In all my travels, I have found only two round-eared caps from the 18th C. They are both at the Smithsonian, both from the Copp Collection.  The other one is described here .

The cap is housed in the textiles collection of the National Museum of American History.* The record for this item is not online.

The Original

study photo of round-eared cap
Smiths 6608 B is a round-eared cap with a wide ruffle

The museum dates this cap 1795-1815, so it just barely qualifies as 18th C.  Since we can’t ask the curator who assigned these dates so long ago, we don’t know what that person saw to prompt her to date this one later than Smiths 6608.  I think that the wider hems and cotton cloth are clues to a later date.

Made of cotton mull, superfine and almost gauzy, plain white, with an edging on the ruffle (it isn’t lace; an extra fine tape, perhaps?).  My notes are unclear here.  (Argh!  even when you think you’ve been thorough…)

It’s made of three pieces, all on the straight grain: semicircular caul, 1 3/4″ straight headpiece, and a ruffle that’s wider at the CF than the bottoms. The headpiece is pieced at the top with a felled hem. That’s pretty common. Gathers on the caul and the ruffle are rolled, whipped, gathered all in one stitch, making a pretty popcorn effect inside that goes across the top 4″ on the headpiece, the top 8″ on the ruffle. The headpiece is hemmed 1/8″ all around, and the hem of  the ruffle is 1/4″. A casing runs along the bottom of the caul and headpiece, allowing the strings to come out right under the ears.

Questions that remain / Portrait

mr and mrs brewster, seated. She wears a round-eared cap
Mr. and Mrs. Brewster, 1795-1800. Her cap shows us about as much detail as an American portrait gives us.

What don’t I understand?  The two round-eared caps have straight headpieces.  I keep recommending Kannik’s cap pattern, but really her cap isn’t like these at all. That cap I wear, that I’ve replicated a dozen times, has a moon-shaped headpiece, and a shaped ruffle that is gathered all the way down.  Many French portraits have detailed renderings of caps, but for American caps, Mrs. Brewster is abut the only one I can see any detail. This portrait is 1795-1800, so it fits the time period given the cap.  I think her headpiece is straight, too.

 

 

The Reproduction

round-eared cap with gathering strings at the bottom
Saines repro of Smiths 6608B, made of cotton.

I had a nice soft cotton to work with, and the repro matches the original shape and size. The caul pattern is off; I had to make adjustments as I went, and I noted “redo this” on the pattern, so don’t trust it!

Having the gather string go all along the bottom and tie under the chin, plus the really wide ruffle,  gives this cap a halo effect when worn.

 

 

 

 

My Notes

smiths 6608 B round notes and pattern

Thank Yous

Nancy Davis, Curator of Textiles at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, helped me to identify items in that collection that were useful to this study. That was no small feat, as records were spread across several legacy cataloging systems, and details were minimal.  I can only hope I found what there was to find!

Other Related Scholarship

I am not aware of any scholarship for this artifact.

*. . . which is not the same thing as the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt, in NYC. Their textiles section was under construction at the time of this study, so I didn’t get to see their artifacts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doubled Headpiece: Genesee 87.213

First draft. No known issues.

I’ll say it again: just when you are ready to say, “Never”….

This lappet cap has a doubled headpiece, the only case of that that I remember seeing.  Its ruffle goes all the way around the perimeter, making a frill at the nape. (Does that qualify as a bavolet?) The Genesee Country Village & Museum, Mumford, NY, owns this cap and dates it 1770-1800.

The Original

18th C cap from Genesee Museum
Genesee 87,213 Doubled caul.

Made of a super fine soft cloth, probably linen, in the common three-piece pattern of semicircular caul, headpiece on the straight grain, and a ruffle attached to the outer edge.  The ruffle’s front edge is hemmed back 1/8″, and the ruffle goes all the way around the cap.  The edge joining the ruffle to the headpiece is whipped, slightly gathered to get around the lappet tips.  At the nape, a cased 1/16″ tape (in the bottom of the caul), gathered up, creates a ruffled effect around the wearer’s neck.

The headpiece is two pieces with all their edges turned in 1/8″. No stitches are apparent that hold those pieces together, so I assume it is stitched and turned in where possible.

The caul is stroke gathered and all the raw edges are laid between the 2 pieces of the headpiece, the way we would hide a modern gather.  This construction is normal in shirt cuffs, for example, but unusual in caps.

The gather tape at the bottom of the caul comes out outside, and there are two 3/16″ tapes sewn to the outside of the lappets for tying. Actually, I looked at this cap a long time trying to decide whether it is inside out or not, but decided the hem stitches on the ruffle determined in from out.

The poor cap has many mended places, sewn by an unskilled hand in large loopy stitches, in some places with stabilizing cloth.

Questions that remain

I found the doubled headpiece an inefficient set up, and wondered what its advantage was to the maker.  Maybe she hated whipped gathers?

And details like poor mending set me wondering: the work of some curator who didn’t want us to think those stitches were original?  The cap given to a child to fix for practice?

Portraits

Here are two portraits with similar caps.

https://americangallery18th.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/hannah-farmer-mrs-benjamin-peck.jpg
Hannah’s cap is only slightly gathered, and the ruffle appears to continue around the back of her neck. Hannah Framer (Mrs. Benjamin Peck) 1768-1770 by John Durand (1731-1805)
Sara has wrapped a large striped ribbon around her lappet cap. The lace ruffle wraps around her neck and ties under her chin. Sara Bostwick (Mrs. Sherman Boardman (1796) by Raph Earl (1751-1801)

The Reproduction

The doubled headpiece I found very awkward to put together.  Possibly you would do this by sewing the front of the headpieces together,  turn it, and then tuck in the caul’s edges, gather where needed, pin and sew.  I didn’t figure all that out until later, though.  *Sigh*  In either case, it’s hard to get that 1/8″ folded in neatly and keep it there while you fit other things together.  The headpiece is actually 4 pieces, with a join at the top.  I thought of that as optional, but I shouldn’t have.

You can see it better here. I turned it inside out for the photo.

I also measured the caul wrong by about 4″ the first time, so I had to go back to the notes and redo the pattern, make a new piece. My notes are a mess.

Me wearing my repro of Gen 87.213

I managed to put the drawstring on the inside when notes and photos show clearly it exits on the outside.  I am confused about the tapes on the lappet ends; they are both on the outside in the photos, but I put one on the inside…  Sometimes I look at a mistake and decide to start over, and sometimes I just can’t.

And stroke gathers just make me scream. I used silk organdy for the weight, although the stiffness isn’t right, and really if you have to suffer through stroke gathers, this is a lovely cloth to work with.  Perhaps you have some tips on making stroke gathers? I’ve got the whipped gather down to a tee, but never do those stroke hills and valleys line up for me.

Still, once completed, it makes a pretty cap that is big enough for my (large) head.

My Notes

Click here for notes and pattern: notes gen 87.213

Thank Yous and Permissions

This cap is presented here with permission, Courtesy Susan Greene Costume Collection, Genesee Country Village & Museum, Mumford, NY.  I worked with Patricia Tice on my visit to Genesee.   I also corresponded with Susan Green, who generously helped me understand what I was seeing here.

Photos by the author.

Other Related Scholarship

I am not aware of any other scholarship on this cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rare Round-Eared Cap: Smiths 6608

[Draft 1: .  Sent to Nancy Davis 6.20.18. for comment. (she retired; forwarded to Bill Yeingst, chair of the division of Home and Community Life, at yeingstw@si.edu)]

Of the 100+ caps I’ve seen, only two are true “round-eared” caps.  They are both from the Smithsonian collection, and from the same collection, the Copp Collection.  They are cut out differently from one another.  This one, Smiths 6608, has a rounded, pointed headpiece, and the ruffle curls around to meet it.  The other, Smiths 6608B, has a straight headpiece.

The cap is housed in the textiles collection of the National Museum of American History.* The record for this item is not online.

The Original

The shiny, fine soft cloth of this cap is probably linen. The incredibly minute stitches are are not unusual in 18th C caps: I counted 20 stitches to the inch.  Each edge  is finished with a whip stitch, then the edges are butted together with another whip stitch. Together, the finished join is 1/16″ across! While not every cap was expertly made, most exhibit these  precise, small, nearly perfect stitches.  Every time I think, “I can do this now, look at those tiny stitches!” I see another example like this of period perfection, and despair.

There are 3 pieces:

  • half-circle shaped caul with a gather tape that comes out of a split in the casing, CB.
  • 2 1/4″ wide headpiece that rounds back to a point under the ear (thus the term, “round-eared cap,” I suppose.)
  • 1 1/2″ ruffle, gathered only enough to get comfortably around that curve. The ruffle is whipped to the headpiece, but the front has a 1/8″ hem.

The museum dates this 1780-1800, partly because the Copp family artifacts include that era.  As with many older collections, the curator who dated this item is no longer at the museum to ask what prompted the dates given.  Nothing about it argues for a later date, and it looks like many caps seen in portraits of the period, so I accept this possibility.

Questions that remain

What don’t I understand?  This cap is small, only 7 1/4″ high, which, once again, makes me wonder if the average 18th C head was smaller. In portraits, many round-eared caps are worn high on the head, with hair piled up inside, so maybe it isn’t intended to cover much ? Or were many extant caps  actually made for younger women? We can’t tell a small adult cap from one made for a teenager.

And I always wonder why THIS cap made it through time for me to touch. Is this the souvenir saved from a child who died? Is this the failed cap that no one liked, so it sat unused? (I can hear the adolescent whine, “But, Ma, no one wears a cap like that anymore!”) Made at school for practice?  Made by Grandma right before she passed away? Made by someone rich enough to have extra caps she didn’t need, found years later in some cupboard?

Round-eared caps are nearly as common in my sample of American period portraits as lappets.  So why do we only have 2 examples?  Did more of them get worn out? Perhaps because they tended to be worn by younger women?  Or did I miss a trove of them when I couldn’t get to the Cooper-Hewitt?

Portraits

This portrait

portrait of the Gordon Family by Henry Benbridge, 1862. Mrs. Gordon wears a round-eared cap.
Mrs. Gordon is wearing a round-eared cap with not much gathering, similar to Smiths 6608.

of the Gordon Family shows Mrs. Gordon in a cap similar to this one.  Most round-eared caps on portraits have a lot of gathers all around the cap, but here is one that seems less so.  The date is 1763. The oldest daughter is wearing a cap like this, too, set very high on her head, so maybe the idea of small caps set high is accurate.

 

 

 

The Reproduction

 

IMG_20160527_182648550
Saines repro of 6608.

 

I used the finest linen I had, but it isn’t as fine as the original.  I didn’t manage to get my stitches as fine, either, especially the whipped edges.  The thickness of the cloth does make tiny stitches harder.  When I sew 20 stitches to the inch on a whipped edge, it often comes out stretched and tight like a dinosaur’s back.

Otherwise, I got the shape and proportions right.

 

My Notes :

smiths 6608 round notes and pattern

 

 

Thank Yous

Nancy Davis, Curator of Textiles at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, helped me to identify items in that collection that were useful to this study. That was no small feat, as records were spread across several legacy cataloging systems, and details were minimal.  I can only hope I found what there was to find!

Other Related Scholarship

I don’t know of any other scholarship concerning this cap.[

*. . . which is not the same thing as the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt, in NYC. Their textiles section was under construction at the time of this study, so I didn’t get to see their artifacts.

Pieced Caul: Genesee 91.170.1

first draft;

A uniquely pieced caul , and a unique method of felling seams, make this cap interesting.  It’s a lace-edged lappet, made of soft linen. The museum dates it 1750.

Genesee Country Village and Museum owns this cap. Genesee is a living history setting; its John L Wehle Gallery museum houses the Susan Greene Costume Collection. If you are interested in learning about caps, the Greene catalog is the place to start. Sadly, I got to Genesee at the end of my travels, having spent several years re-discovering much of the info she had already cataloged.  The marvelous catalog describes each item, and the caps are dated! If I had an endowment to offer, I would make sure this catalog was open to the public web.  I went there in search of the caps Kathleen Kannik references in her pattern KK-602. Those caps were dated 1815, but gallery curator Patricia Tice suggested I look at this cap and Genesee 86.213.  Bingo!

The Original

Several construction details make this cap interesting and unique.  First is the pieced caul.  It’s made of a rectangle in the middle, a pointed rectangle on the bottom, and curved and gathered piece on top.  The bottom has a 1/4″ channel for the gather strings, which come out of 2 buttonholed circles on the outside CB.

Each piece is sewn together, and then felled with a criss-cross stitch inside, about 12 Xs to the inch.  I’d never seen that done, but it makes a neat finish, and lays down both sides of the folded seam at the same time.  Clever.

Those criss-cross felled seams are used on the join at the top of the headpiece, too.  The headpiece is stroke gathered to the caul, but after the gather, the caul is joined to the headpiece with the same kind of XX stitch.

The lappet is also pieced…. I’m beginning to see a pattern here….  the bottom 2″ ends are sewn with a straight stitch and left unfinished.

linen cap, detail of back.
You can see the three pieces of the caul here.

The lappets are edged in 1″ lace (also pieced!), which the catalog says is CA 1700 Valenciennes Lace.  As I am not a lace researcher, (next life!) I accept her designation.  It is only slightly gathered, with enough bunching to get around the tip.  Short 3/8″ tapes are sewn on the underside, then threaded out through the lace, emerging on the outside point to be tied.  That means the lace would be under the bow when worn.

Questions that remain

The fact that everything here is pieced is intriguing.  (By now I am imagining a grandmother desperate to work up a cap with her granddaughter, “Here, Honey, I think I have enough left over…”  Which also explains why the cap shows no signs of wear?)

Portraits

Yes, I can use this portrait again and again.  Her bow appears to be silk, whereas this cap is tied with 3/8″ tapes.  1749-52 John Wollaston, Catherine Harris Smith (Mrs. Ebenezer Pemberton) (Artstor IAP)

The lace-edged lappet is a common mid-century cap.  One set of examples is John Wollaston’s gallery. It was either a big fashion during his painting years, or he had those 2 caps in his studio to choose from.  Gen 91.170.1 doesn’t have the extra bunch at the CF, like many of these portraits do, however.

 

The Reproduction

I had to remake pieces of this cap several times before I got it.  First the lappets were too fat, then they were too thin.  I put the holes for the gather strings on the inside, not the outside.  I was entirely finished When I discovered I put the bottom piece of the caul on upside down. I started over, and cut the same piece with the fold on the wrong side.  Egad.  I did finally got a satisfactory version accomplished — only to discover I once again put the holes for the gather strings on the wrong side.  So don’t look but this has 2 sets of holes.

 

two caps, attempts at the same repro.
On the left, the first try; on the right, the corrected version.

My Notes

Click here for notes and pattern: gen 91.170.1

 

Thank Yous and Permissions

This cap is presented here with permission, Courtesy Susan Greene Costume Collection, Genesee Country Village & Museum, Mumford, NY.  I worked with Patricia Tice on my visit to Genesee.   I also corresponded with Susan Green, who generously helped me understand what I was seeing here.

Photos by the author.

Other Related Scholarship

This cap does not have an online catalog record. I am not aware of any other scholarship about this cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Best Practices for Your Museum Research Visit

[This is a repost of an article I wrote for the ARLIS Fashion Librarians SIG blog, July 14, 2014.]

Does your heart sing when you imagine going to a museum to see a child’s sampler from 1757? Do you dream of getting a good look in those incredible store-room drawers of linens and gowns and hats?  I have been doing a lot of this for my current research on 18th C caps.  Here are some things I think are Best Practices to follow.

DAR Aug 13 090

1. First, dig deep into the institution’s web page. If there is an online catalog, use it. Do not to ask the curator to do work you can do yourself.

Learn the policies regarding research visits: specific times, fees, forms, etc.

See if they have an institutional library; it may have unique resources, such as in-house reports or picture files. Do you need a separate appointment to use the library?

Discover the best contact person to receive your request to visit.

Consider bringing a colleague who has done this before and can help you the first time out. (Thank you, Sharon!)

2. Now you are ready to e-mail an informed request. Be as specific as possible. Tell them what you want to do: see, measure, pattern, photograph, etc. Tell them where you have already been to show you have some experience.

The online catalog is often not exhaustive; say, “I found this item that I am interested in, are there others like it?”

Ask about policies you could not locate: fees, forms, etc.

Suggest possible times to come visit, and be flexible.

3. Gather the tools you will need: loop, graph paper, pencils, camera, measure, gloves? (And be prepared to leave any or all of these articles in the locker as per policy.) Test your camera settings ahead of time; bring extra batteries.  Bring a flashlight for picture lighting.  Make yourself a checklist of what you want to examine in each item.

Bring the e-mail and phone number of your contact. Find out where you may park, which entrance to come to, and at exactly what time. Print off maps or set your GPS. Bring change for the meter.

4. Be on time. Find your contact person and do what they say. Ask again about policies and procedures. (You should already know these things, but make sure, in person, that you understand.)

If you are making a full day of it, ask when and how you may leave to eat lunch – and take your contact person out to eat.

Be ready for anything!  A volunteer might sit beside you all day, or you may be left alone in a room with a stack of boxes until closing time.  Some work rooms are roomy and sunlit; sometimes you work on top of a cabinet in the basement.

IMG_20121220_122612

5. Be GENTLE and respectful of the materials. If you move the item, support all the cloth. Look at one item at a time, returning it to its box or stand when you are done.

Write the item’s number on a slip of paper that can be in every photo, to avoid confusion later. Photograph any accompanying documentation.

6. If your contact person is knowledgeable, ask permission to take some of their time today to discuss your research subject. Ask if they can refer you to other items, people, or collections.

7. Be done before your time is up. Don’t keep someone late at work today.

8. Write a thank you note. Send a donation to the foundation. When you go home, look over your notes, redraw your patterns, etc., as soon as possible.   Ask If the museum wants copies of your drawings, patterns, photos, etc., for their files.

9. Later, when you write up your research, give appropriate credit to the institution, and individuals who helped you. Follow their rules about publishing photos or academic vs. commercial uses.

10. Corrections and additions much appreciated! Tell me what you think.

photos: by Sherri Saines, DAR Collections, Washington, DC

Kissing Strings: New Canaan CE419

First draft. no known issues

“Kissing strings” are long (40″ on this one) tapes that extend forward from the nape gather. I keep asking what people think the use was, and here are a few of the ideas:

  • wrap them back up over your head to help secure cap
  • some illogical fashion trend; some marker of age
  • made that way with the intention of cutting them shorter as per user’s head size
  • someone else can grab them and pull the wearer close — to kiss!

I haven’t seen any visible in portraits, so we’re guessing here.

This cap, from the New Canaan Historical Society in New Canaan,  Connecticut, collection, is a good example.

The Original

lappet with many 18th C characteristics
New Canaan Historical Scoiety CE 419

I argue for an 18th C date because of its common 3-piece construction: caul, headpiece, ruffle. And because it doesn’t have  the characteristics of a 19th C cap.  It has one little 1/16″ pintuck 1/4″ in all down the front edge of the ruffle. Oh, and ribbons that tie the lappets. I wondered how those were done. In the portrait section, see examples of both.

The cloth is fine, probably linen, and the ruffle is even finer.  Many many mended areas on the headpiece tell us it was well loved & used.

The stitches are tiny, fine, even. Along the front ruffle edge, a 1/8″ hem finish; go in 1/4″, and there’s a 1/8″ pintuck. Ruffle joined to headpiece with 2 1/16″ hems butted together.  Caul joined to (hemmed) headpiece with whipped gather. I count 25 or more of those popcorn stitches to the inch.

The lappets are 3.5″ long, and a 6″ long, 1/4″  ribbon (now shredded), handmade from a piece of silk, ties the ends.

The group of caps in their collection were donated by Deborah Bead. We corresponded briefly, and she said she did her best to date the caps, using reference sources like Cunnington’s Dictionary of Fashion History 

 

The pintuck on the ruffle, and many mendings are visible here. Get a close look at those whipped gathers on the CF of the caul. New Canaan CE419

Gathers at the ends of the lappets are fine, just enough to get around the turn. You can see the ruffles are finer than the headpiece.
The ribbon ties are in bad shape. New Canaan CE 419

 

Questions that remain

Mended areas are always interesting, and this cap has a lot.  One possibility is some conservator did them, of course; the other is someone who loved this cap wanted to keep using it.  Did people wear mended caps?  I can see fixing a little hole or tear, but this is a lot of visible mending. Does that mean the owner was poor?  So much we can’t know.

Portraits

She has ribbon ties on her lappets! Creator: John Wollaston, American, fl. 1733-1775; Title: Portrait of Mrs. Ebenezer Pemberton. Artstor IAP

Mrs. Pemberton wears a cap with ribbon ties.  Her ruffles are gathered all the way down the lappets, whereas on CE419, the only gather is at the tip of the lappet, to get around the curve.

More like…  Mary Trussler, 1760.  Her cap is almost straight down the sides, like this one. Her ruffle appear sto have a little pintuck in it.  18th C portraits can have such incredible detail in them.  The painingof transparent cloth is such a wonder to me

 

 

 

 

The Reproduction

CE 419 modeled.
A member of the Costume Society of America tried on New Canaan CE 419 for size at my exhibit there in 2016.
CE 419 reproduction displayed.
My repro of CE419 on a stand.

I think this was the first time I tried to do gathers around a lappet, and my effort is pretty comical.  No, there aren’t supposed to be those little

puffs at her cheek.

Mimicking the tiny tiny stitiches made this a fun challenge.  I used cotton organdy to mimic the fineness of the original cloth, and cotton mull for the ruffle.

Making a reproduction gives us a change to TRY ON a cap and see how it would sit on a real head.  It allows us to touch and question the original design.  The artifact is so delicate it could not even be mounted, but now, despite my learner’s mistakes, we can try out the strings and see if they work tied up.  (We thought it was possible, but not really practical.

Notes and Pattern

Click here for notes and pattern: New Can CE 419 notes

Thank Yous and Permissions

Photos by the author.  Permission to use these photos granted by NCHS 2018, via Penny Havard, Curator of Textiles. Thanks to Janet Lindstrom, who was curator at the time of my visit.

Other Related Scholarship

New Canaan does not have an online catalog of their items.

I am not aware of any other scholarship about this item.