Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Regency Fabrics, Part 10

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!

Today we have three fabrics from March 1810; their overall condition appears to be excellent.

Nos. 1 and 2 are a bronze green and azure blue tapestry print; a novel style of coloring on calico for furniture, designed and manufactured by Mr. Allen, of Pall-Mall. Mr. Allen has also brought forward a considerable variety of articles in this fashionable and unique style of colouring and design. We particularize a scarlet and ruby, in permanent colours, never before produced in this country; which article is well adapted for libraries and eating-rooms: also a tea-coloured chintz, of the most elegant design, for the decoration of drawing-rooms. Mr. Allen has very judiciously taken under his own direction, the making up and decoration of his furniture; by which means the nobility and gentry are enabled to order their furniture en suite, in the first style of elegance, without any further trouble.

My comments: This is very much what we think of in terms of weight and appearance as a classic glazed chintz for drapery or slip-cover use; the glazing is heavy, but not as glossy as a modern fabric might be (perhaps a by-product of the sample's age?) The printing is crisp and clear.

No. 3 is a delicate article, in oblique ribbed cambric muslin, particularly well adapted for the morning robe or frocks. Lace or needlework may be introduced in dresses formed of this article; but it possesses much neatness of effect if made up plain. It is sold by Messrs. Smith and Co. No. 43, Tavistock-street, Covent-garden.

My comments: This is indeed a delicate article, being very light in weight, but the tight weave makes it a little less sheer than expected (though lining in both bodice and skirt would definitely be required!). A lovely smooth hand, and yes, a very neat and attractive appearance.

No. 4, a double-sided, figured, amber-shot sarsnet, calculated for robes, tunics, and vests. The laced bodice (now frequently worn with the white dress) is particularly pretty when composed of this material, and faced with silver, or trimmed with white beads. It is sold by Mr. Joseph Ord, silk-mercer, St. Paul’s church-yard.

My comments: The scan is giving this a somewhat more acid-yellow appearance than it has in real life, which is more just a clear, true yellow--though definitely intense, the white weft softens it. It's not what we would call "amber" today, so it has either faded, or the definition has changed since 1810. The weight is fairly light, though it probably has enough heft to drape nicely, and the texture and sheen are suitably smooth and luminous for a silk sarsnet.

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