“Squared” Caps, Early and Late

1st draft; pics rev. wrote to alexis today. This is the last cap description.

Caps with a simple rectangle for a headpiece appear early and late in the 18th C.  This cap is probably an early one, but with so little to compare it to, it’s best guesses all around.  Its home is the McCord Museum in Montreal, Canada, #M980.4.26. It does not have an online record. The museum dates this cap as “late 17th? or early 18th” Century. If that’s true, it is the oldest cap I have found.

The Original

This one is very simple: a half-circle caul of linen attached to a rectangle of lace for a headpiece.  A tape gathers the caul at the nape, as is common.

Cap McCord Museum #M980.4.26 photo by author. A rectangular headpiece of lace marks this cap as early (or late?) 18th C.
The lace headpiece will help us date the cap, perhaps?

The large size assures me this is an adult cap: 9″ high by 9.5″ from back to front edge.  The caul is made of two pieces, felled together down the center back line, with about 10 big stitches per inch.  The front edge of the caul is hemmed back with a 3/8″ seam. There aren’t any gathers sewn in.  The only gather is the drawstring along the bottom, which isn’t drawn through any casing in the cloth, but caught up within a looped string.  Two tapes, anchored at opposite ends, pull across one another through these loops to effect the gather.

The headpiece is a rectangle of lace with a motif of birds and flowers. Is is whipped onto the caul with big uneven stitches. The bottom edge is finished with another piece of lace sewn on that is about 1/2″ wide; the front is edged with a piece that is about 1/4 wide.  This makes me think the large lace piece is cut on those edges. One of the points has a small loop – for a tie or button? Please someone who knows lace come behind me here and help with the lace description!

 

 

Cap McCord Museum #M980.4.26 photo by author.. Close-up of inside of join of headpiece and caul shows unusual drawstring arrangement.
At the join of the headpiece and caul (inside), the arrangement of the tapes, sewn down, doubled through, and attached with a looped string.
Cap McCord Museum #M980.4.26 photo by author.. Close up inside of bottom edge of lace headpiece.
The lace that edges the bottom is sewn on with large straight stitches.
Cap McCord Museum #M980.4.26 photo by author. Close up of midpoint back, inside, of caul, showing construction of drawstring.
The felled join of the back of the caul can be seen, as well as the way the string is sewn down to created the loops.
Cap McCord Museum #M980.4.26 photo by author. Cap laid open to see inside details.
The hemmed caul and placement of edging laces.
Cap McCord Museum #M980.4.26 photo by author. Close up of lace, with motif of birds and flowers.
The lace design isn’t exactly centered; another reason to think it was cut from some other use.

 

Questions that remain

Other Squared caps that we have access to are few.  Burnston covers two of these in Fitting and Proper, pps 35-37. She dates these 1790-1810.  (West Chester, PA., items # 1989.1995 and # 1994.3270; I got to see 1994.3270, but didn’t see 1989.1995) Her descriptions in that book are clear and detailed, so I won’t repeat them here.  The other place a squared cap is described is in Rural Pennsylvania Clothing. (Caps C and E, pp 68-69.) Gehret notes these caps are late 18th C (some say they are even later.). All that to say there isn’t much to compare this cap to, especially if we want to date it to the early  1700’s.

Being housed in Montreal also adds the complication of possible French influence. The museum record notes the provenance as “Antwerp?” so it might be Belgian.  If so, it is technically outside the scope of this study, in which I am trying to keep to items from places that became the United States.

Still, if it is “late 17th, early 18th” century, it is the oldest adult cap I have found. 

Portraits

Ann Pollard portrait, 1721.
Ann Pollard, 1721, wears a cap with a squared-edged headpiece.

Few portraits show caps with squared headpieces.  Or, we might say, in few portraits are we sure we are seeing a really squared headpiece.  In many portraits, the cap is high and back too far to be sure; only the ruffle suggests the shape.

Ann Pollard was 100 when she had her portrait made.  Her caps looks definitely squared at the edges.  Since she is aged, I wonder if this was old fashioned at the time?  I’ve only found 2 other portraits with the same shape cap, and they are also early.

Then, in the 19th C, they show up again, and styles take off with additions of deep lace & ruffles, inserts and embroidery.

The Reproduction

I haven’t made a repro of this cap yet.

My Notes

Click here for notes: mccord 980.4.26 notes

Thank Yous and Permissions

Thank you to Alexis Walker, Curatorial Assistant, Costume and Textiles, who corresponded with me and helped me at the McCord.  I have written for her permission to use these images and discuss this artifact here.

Photos by the author.

Other Related Scholarship

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAR 1203: A Cap With A Story

third rev; pics OK

Few caps are actually dated, but this one has a story and a date.  It’s a simple lappet cap, small and unadorned, of soft sheer cotton mull.  The catalog record tells the story:

“Janneke Phoenix Krum was the wife of Hendrck W. Krum — a soldier of the American Revolution. The flax was spun and woven by Janneke Krum, and the cap made by hand — also by her.”

They were married on May 4, 1777, so the record implies this is her wedding cap.  The DAR Museum in Washington, D.C. owns this cap.

A lappet cap displayed with a red empire dress and white neckcloth.
The cap on this dress model is DAR 1203, a simple lappet with a story.

The Original

Made of three pieces, caul, headpiece, and ruffle, but with wide (1/4″) hems throughout.  The caul is

gathered to the headpiece with whipped gathers over the top 6″ of the headpiece.  The headpiece is on the straight grain, 1.5″ at the CF, widening to 3 1/4″ where the caul and headpiece meet under the ears, and skinnying down to 1/2″ wide at the point. The ruffle is joined to the headpiece with a whip stitch.

The ruffle is gathered at the CF and at the turn of the lappet only, a common characteristic of the era.  The headpiece is reinforced with tiny triangles of cloth at the tips to withstand the tension of the gathering strings attached there.

Close-up of center front ruffle, top of headpiece, tight gathering of the caul.
The gathered CF ruffle of DAR 1203.
Close up of the end of the lappet of DAR 1203, showing gather of ruffle and string ties.
Gathers go gently around the lappet, and a string attached here ties the ends under one’s chin.
Cap #1203 from DAR Museum is a lappet with wide hems throughout.
The 1/4″ hem throughout might be an indicator of a later date?

 Questions that Remain

The wide hems and the cotton cloth make me wonder if this is 19th C, but the style and construction fit the bill for 18th C.  Note the museum record says Mrs. Krum spun the flax (i.e., linen) herself, but then identifies the cloth as cotton mull.  I wonder if this is a cap from later in her life?  I wonder if the hand-spun cloth story is real.

Portraits

 

Portrait of woman wearing lappet cap. John Wollaston, Portrait of Mrs. Ebenezer Pemberton, ca. 1750. RISD Museum.
This cap is similar, with a special extra gather at the top in the front.

 

Lappet caps are the most common mid-century cap.    Notice that she has a ribbon under her chin. DAR 1203 has a surviving tie sewn on to the tips, to tie under the chin. I wonder if the ribbon in this portrait is sewn on to the cap, pinned on, or tied around her neck separately?  I’d opt for sewn on to the cap, but I’ve never seen ribbons on an original, not until the 19th C when they grow large and wide.

 

 

The Reproduction

I’m still learning about how the weight of the cloth impacts the gather.  On this cap, although the whipped gather only goes across the top 6″ of the cap, I had to keep gathering it nearly all the way down the sides to make the caul fit onto the headpiece.  That’s also partly because I was still learning how to infer a flat pattern from gathered shape, and got the proportions wrong. Another complicating factor was replicating that curve under the ear.  Most caps are straight here.

Saines' reproduction on DAR 1203, lappet cap of cotton, shown on hat display.
My version of DAR 1203.

 

My Notes

Click here for notes and pattern: BookScanCenter (1)

You can see the problems I had making a pattern!  I’ve gotten better at this over time.

Thank Yous and Permissions.

Thanks to Alden O’Brien, Curator of Costumes and Textiles, of the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Washington, DC, who gave me permission to blog about the DAR caps I saw.

Other Related Scholarship

I am not aware of any scholarship on this cap.