Karen Augusta of Antique Fashion.com.com has graciously allowed me to share some of the photographs she has taken of original garments she has sold in her online shop. Studying original clothing is essential for recreating the correct look of the period, which changed from year to year. Thank you to Karen for sharing her knowledge and her beautiful pictures! Be sure to visit her site for more breathtaking gowns from the 18th-20th centuries!
The first gown shown above (white) is of woven cotton with fringe trimming. Karen writes:
Original owner was Ann Balton Booth. She was born in Chestertown, Maryland and after marrying, moved to Philadelphia. Although this style of dress began to be popular in America in the late 18th c., the double draw string back, the square neckline, and the back-gathered sleeve with added puff suggests a date of a decade later. Looking closely you can see evidence that this was a much loved dress by observing the careful mends in the fabric. The fabric itself is special. All together, this early 19th century dress is simple, classic and elegant!
The next gown is a silk pelisse dress of striped green. Writes Karen, “This dress belonged to Mary Murdock Richards (MMR). She was born in 1787 in Roxbury, MA. Although popular in the early 19th Century, surviving pelisse dresses are a rarity today. This garment clearly shows how the fashionable outer garment, the pelisse, was used as the style model for an elegant day dress. The front buttons are merely for show; below the empire waist they are not functional. The dress’s fully gathered back and fabric rosette trim are also typical of pelisse of this period. It is possible that the collar was worn standing up away from the neck with a cotton and lace ruff inside.
Finally, there is a wonderful checked silk spencer jacket in beautiful condition. Karen got this from the estate of an 18th century Massachusetts family. “Rebecca Kingsbury (b. 1713, d. 1807) of West Dedham, MA. married Nathaniel Gay on April 10, 1740. I believe that the original owner of this Spencer was their granddaughter, Susannah Gay Plimpton.