Here’s another post in our ongoing series on Regency fabrics.
As I have in previous posts, I’ll be examining actual fabric samples glued into several earlier editions of Ackermann’s Repository, samples supplied by the manufacturers and published by Ackermann in order to boost the British cloth-making industry at a time when exporting British goods to Europe was almost impossible because of the Napoleonic war. I'll give you a close-up scan of each sample, the published description if available, and my own observations of the color, weight, condition, and similarity to present-day materials, to give you as close a picture as possible of what these fabrics are like. So here we go!
We have three fabrics from January 1810*; overall condition is very good considering their age, apart from some raveling of the samples themselves.
Nos. 1 and 2. A ruby damask furniture chintz, calculated for curtains, sofas, beds, &c. The linings, which form the most pleasing contrast of this elegant article, are, Sicilian or celestial blue, spring or pea-green. For dining-rooms, deep borders, of plain or fancy-cut velvet, have a rich and appropriate effect. For drawing-rooms, the draperies should be the colour of the lining, tastefully blended, and fringed to correspond. This article is manufactured and sol by Mr. Allen, 61, Pall-Mall.
My comments: What a lovely, rich color! Though the scan isn't doing it justice, it looks just like a lightly glazed modern chintz, printed in a classic brocade pattern, thought perhaps just a slight bit heavier than a modern chintz. It's a little hard to imagine it paired with a celestial blue or pea green lining, though!
My comments: This sample has very clearly not aged well, as it appears to be an inoffensive silk brocade in a denim blue with a cream-colored floral pattern woven in. However, from the description, it was originally a deep purplish blue with orange flowers...oh my! Again, I have to wonder how well the fashion prints in Ackermann and elsewhere reflect the reality of what was actually being worn. As for the weight and feel of the fabric--it's simply lovely, with an attractive sheen that alas is not coming through on the scan and a silky hand, lightweight enough to float yet with enough heft to drape well. I wouldn't have said no to a dress in this fabric, orange and purple notwithstanding!
No. 4 is a most delicate cotton, or mole velvet. It exhibits a pleasing and convincing specimen of the lightness and delicacy to which the perseverance and ingenuity of the manufacturer has brought this article. Robes, mantles, and coats, composed of this material, with well-contrasted linings and trimmings, have a most seasonable and fashionable effect; and are purchased less than half the price of the silk velvet, which is ever a favourite article with our elegant females for winter wear. Trimmings best adapted for mantles and coats, are, leopard-skin, American squirrel, or grey fox; besides many fancy borders in Chinese silk. For robes, gold, silver, and white beads, form a lively and elegant association. This article is furnished us, and sold, wholesale and retail, of all possible colours, from 5s. to 7s. per yard, by John Sutterfield and Co. Manchester.
My comments: Another delightful dress fabric, this time in what we might today call velveteen: it's a lightweight fabric with a light nap, and would do very well for a winter dress though perhaps a little too lightweight to make a very good mantle or coat, even trimmed with fur (leopard? Yikes!)
*And speaking of 1810, stay tuned for a new series I’ll be kicking off in a few weeks...