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Late 1800's To The Early 1900's Period, U.S., Woman's, Black Color, Funeral/Mourning Dress, With Many Accessories, Belonging To A Woman Names: "Casey"
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This dress is believed to date somewhere between the late 1800's up to the early 1900's period, but we are not sure either way. The very heavy twill type inside lining material is of a similiar type to that found on 1800's period military jackets. There is much inside boning found in the jacket that is also suggestive of a 1800's rather than a 1900's made ensemble. Also there are some numbers found that may be patent numbers to help date this grouping. The future buyer will have to be the deciding entity on the dating of these pieces. This ensemble was acquired from a local antique shop that had a great many antique women's garments. We bought pretty much the whole lot from this shop, and many are now available from the museum as we do not have the funds currently to erect over 300 female display exhibits. This ensemble was to be displayed in a funeral scene for a deceased solider with a woman in mourning suitably attired in attendance with other soliders. We believe this dress to be of U.S. origin, but who can tell now. The construction of this interesting dress is extremely complicated in many respects. It shows much hand work and we believe that it is a totally hand made garment. Internet research suggests that those period mourning dresses were made by the wives of the deceased and who would wear such black color mourning dresses anywhere from 1 to 2 years after the burial, depending on the composure of the widow.
This ensemble is comprised of a long dress, a boned long sleeve short jacket, a heavy tippet, which is like a shawl of sorts, a large triangular shape black color lace shawl, a pair of black color high shoes, or booties, a pair of black color gloves, a silver/gray color neck charm, a string of fake black color pearls, a pair of thigh high black cotton stockings, and 2 large width gross grain material waist sashes. To start off with the jacket is of what some call the "Bolero" style. It is very high waist-ed. The inside is lined with a twill material that is similar to that found on military jackets of the period. This jacket is heavily boned inside with 12 bones. There is a hand sewn in off white color tag found near the inner neck area that is hand inked in what looks like fountain pen ink with the name of: "Casey". There is a heavy gauge material sweat shield found sewn in each armpit area and they are both printed with: "Canfield 1 Extra Fine TRADE MARK No. 317,625 No. 413,974". If these 2 numbers are patent numbers, and we believe that they are, then the patent dates are 1889 and 1885 respectively. These numbers are a good indicator of the dating of this ensenble. Each sleeve is circled at the cuffs with 1 inch wide gross grain trim that gives these cuffs a ruffled appearance.
Inside of the cuffs show the tattered remains of purple color silk lining. This jacket is closed using many metal hooks. But placed over the frontal opening is a black color gross grain material ascot or cravat. This ascot is in good shape however at one time it had a black color lace facing added. This facing lace is mostly gone now due to great age, however a descent tailor could probably replicate it. This jacket has a high collar, but it is pretty much all gone by now. It's outer covering is mostly gone fully exposing it's gray color buckram material stiffener. While this deteriorated high collar may be objectionable to some, it is of little consequence as this collar is completely hidden by this grouping's other garments (more on that later). A nice feature about this jacket is that there is a very small pocket found sewn in the frontal closure area. We have seen this cool feature before and we believe that it was intended to be used to hold a pair of "granny" glasses. As for the lower hem, since it was so high cut, the jacket had many small metal hooks added. These would then mate to matching hooks in the dress waist area to keep the jacket from riding up, and to keep the dress from sliding down. We found a twill material internal belly strap/belt that pulls the jacket closed from the inside. This thoughtful addition gave this jacket a hourglass "wasp-waist-ed" sexy appearance that is so popular in those Victorian bygone days. As for the condition of this jacket, we conservatively condition rate it as in only FAIR CONDITION. This rating is rather harsh as the jacket still displays quite well and most of it's flaws are hidden by this grouping's outer garments which are included. The jacket has the usual garden variety of snags, worn through spots, etc., but again, this jacket still looks quite decent nevertheless.
The 2nd item included with this grouping is a matching long dress. And when we say the word LONG we mean that it is really LONG! Since the jacket was a high cut, this long dress was in turn cut with a very high waist line. And yet the lower hem line still reaches to the floor. The outer waist line has a heavy twill material integral waist belt, of sorts. This twill belt also has several metal hooks found sewn in which allowed this long dress to be connected to the short jacket without separation. If you have ever seen a photograph of a soldier wearing a W.W.II period "IKE" jacket where the kidney area was exposed when the jacket rode up, then you will understand the utility of these connecting hooks. There are no tags found in this long dress. It does not have any bottom hem slit, but it does incorporate a side slit. But this side slit is rather odd as it only has 1 closure metal hook leaving the rest to possibly open. If the young lady bent over in a particular way there was the possibility that this slit could open revealing a peek of corset/girdle. We doubt that this slit allowed for any such "cheesecake" viewing, but it is fun to speculate. It's open slit design is still a puzzle to us in any event (to reach her undies perhaps?). There is also a rather narrow, but deep singular pocket incorporated into this long dress, and it is hidden by the gathering at the waist line area. The interior of this long dress is fully lined with a heavy twill material lining making this dress very heavy indeed. And as for the condition rating for this long dress, we conservatively rate it in a FAIR CONDITION. It has the usual snags, worn through spots, and a rather large yellowed faded area located at the lower hem line area. We believe that with a little black color spray dye that this stain could be rendered invisible. But overall, this long dress still presents itself quite well. Look at the photos that we have provided and you can see that this grouping still looks really nice.
Moving on to the 3rd item, included is a magnificent black color, matching material tippet, which is a shawl of sorts. It is similar to the top covering that you see placed over raincoats or "dusters" in old western movies (hail to the man with no name!). When laid flat on the floor this tippet is of the 1/2 circle shape. Sewn about 1/3 down it's depth is a black color lace covering. This lace covering runs around it's complete circumference and is about 40% or so gone now. However, we believe that a good tailor should be able to make a descent replacement for this piece without too much difficulty. This tippet includes a very high sewn in collar that is constructed out of matching-to-the-body material. This collar has been gathered together which gives this great collar a very ruffled appearance. Thankfully this high collar also COMPLETELY HIDES the deteriorated collar that is found on the jacket underneath. Whoopee-----how's that for good luck! The method of closure was by the usual metal hooks which only close up this garment for about 1/2 of it's depth. This tippet is fully lined and the lining is just great. The condition rating on this tippet is conservatively rated in a FAIR CONDITION. But in all fairness, this tippet actually looks really nice, and the missing spots of lace covering it, in any event, are hard to see since the missing section is located in the back area out of view. Check out out photos to see how well this grouping still displays.
Moving on to the 4th inclusion is a gigantic piece of black color lace. It is in a triangular shape and is about 7 feet in width/length. But like the rest of the lace found on this ensemble, it has many tears and holes and snags, etc. When placed over the shoulders of this ensemble the flaws become almost invisible due to the black color of the tippet showing through. There are many internet sources for lace these days, so finding some replacement lace material of a correct pattern should not be all the difficult. We condition rate this lace shawl as in KINDA KRAPPY CONDITION!
The 5th inclusion with this mourning dress was added by the antique shop that we found it in. This item is comprised of a silver/gray color, pot metal(?), brooch/pin jewelry ornament. We have no clue as to how old it is. But since it came with this dress, it goes with it now.
The 6th inclusion is an old necklace of fake black color pearls. Again, since it came with this grouping when we purchased it, we have included it here too.
The 7th inclusion is a older pair of black color rayon gloves. They appear to be in MINT CONDITION with no flaws visible. Found sewn inside is a nice black and white color, bevo-style tailor's tag which reads: "Van Raalte RAYON 7 1/2 MADE IN U.S.A.". These gloves are old, but just how old we can not say. They probably date around the 1930's or so period before nylon pretty much replace rayon textiles.
The 8th inclusion that has been added to complete this grouping are a nice pair of Victorian, mid calf length boots, or "booties", they are of the fully laced style and not of the more modern 1/2 lace and 1/2 upper hooked design. They are of all leather and have about 2 1/2 inch high stacked heels. They have the usual inked in code numbers placed inside that we would just love to be able to decipher one day as all shoes have such numbers. We condition rate these boots as in a HIGH GOOD CONDITION. They have no major external defects and if polished would definitely look terrific.
The 9th inclusion comes from the museum director's personal stocking collection. He has been collecting stockings for over 38 years now and has thousands of vintage pairs. The pair that has been added is a pair of black color cotton, full fashioned thigh high stockings. They are mostly hand sewn and have heavy reinforced toe and heel reinforcements. The wide top welt is actually of the normal double top welt style, but both welts look almost as 1 unit. Overall they are in a LOW GOOD CONDITION showing much wear and tear in the foot area. However, the main stocking body(s) are still relatively free of detractions. Not that this matters at all as the long dress reaches to the floor thus hiding most, if not all of both the boots, and the stockings (Aw shucks!).
There are 2 other inconsequential inclusions that go with this excellent grouping. They are not original to this grouping and were only added by the proprietress of the old antique shop that we acquired this ensemble from. You see, this lady added 2 very wide, black color, gross grain material ribbons with bows. She pinned both of these very wide ribbons to the rear of the long dress to serve as a sort of Victorian bustle. While unnecessary, when added they really make this dress impressive, albeit if incorrect from original. They are included only as a novelty item as this grouping really does not need any superfluous enhancements such as these 2 ribbons.
Comments from the Curator:
OK folks, this is it. Of all the over 300 female uniforms/ensembles that we have, this mourning/funeral dress is in the top 10 of our favorites. Even thoough is has much wear and tear, when displayed it makes our visitors stop in their tracks (we just love that old line). This grouping would never haven been put up for sale as we all love it dearly here. But alas, our 300 "goils" will never be exhibited due to lack of donation monies to exhibit them, so up for sale they will all go. Don't snooze on this grouping......Ya All! Condition notwithstanding, this is as good as it gets these days. We are sorry to see it go but hope that it goes to a good home where it can be properly loved and admired. Not cheap, but well worth it.
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