18th C versus 19th C Characteristics for American Women’s Caps.

Chart of 18th C Characteristics Compared to 19th C Characteristics of Women’s Caps

Here are the characteristics which seem to distinguish 18th C caps from 19th C caps, which could be used to help date the caps in a box of miscellaneous undated linen.

This is my working hypothesis; comments appreciated.

Earlier (More Likely to be 18th Century) Later (More Likely to be 19th Century)
V. narrow (1/16, 1/8”) linen tape ties on lappets at chin Self-fabric ties, ribbon ties, wide (1”) ties, ties with lace edges, at chin
Minute seams, (1/16, 1/8”) Wider seams (1/4, ½”), shadow seams, corded seams
Rolled gather or stroke gather Modern gather: drawn cloth between covering layers
One layer of cloth Doubled cloth
Plain linen Figured linen, cotton, machine-made  net, whitework
Hard ruffles only at turn of lappet and widow’s peak Hard ruffles all along front of cap
Cloth or lace ruffles skinnier (1” and less) around face Cloth or lace ruffles wider (over 1”) around face
Hand-made lace Crochet, tatting
Lace for ruffles, edge trims Lace inserts in caul or headpiece
Caul gathered only at nape and top of head Other gathers in caul, such as in the middle, or crosswise, or extra poufs.
No band at nape; caul gathered here forms edge. Flat band at nape; caul gathered above
Headpiece meets caul at about the ears. Caul is larger Headpiece is wider, meets caul near back of the head. Caul is smaller, muffin-looking.
Headpiece pointed at cheek; headpiece with lappets. Headpiece squared at cheek
Round or pointed lappets Square-ended lappets


CSA 2016

Exhibit: Piecing Together the Details: Eighteenth- Century Women’s Cap Construction

Sherri B. Saines, M.L.S.

Alden Library, Ohio University

Reference and Instruction Librarian


18 vs 19 C chart