Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Regency Fabrics, Part 13

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’s three samples are from the June 1810 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. Their overall condition is excellent, though there is some brown spotting visible.

Nos. 1 and 2 are a permanent lilac chintz furniture, never before produced in this country. It is an article comprising much appropriate elegance for the decoration of drawing-rooms, &c. &c. We are indebted to the ingenuity and invention of Mr. Allen, of Pall-Mall, for this novel and useful manufacture. Mr. Allen has reason to pride himself on the inspection and approval of her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth, of whose taste and genius the public have been favoured with many specimens. Her Royal Highness, we understand, was pleased to express her commendation on the superior designs, union, and delicacy of colours, as well as permanency of their shades, which distinguish the calico furniture of Mr. Allen.

My comments: You have to hand it to Mr. Allen: after 207 years his chintz is still quite color-fast, though the lilac has suffered some browning. This is a nice, weighty glazed chintz, very smoothly woven. No wonder Princess Elizabeth, the artsy-est of George III’s daughters, was impressed.

No. 3. A Persian lace muslin, particularly appropriated to the ball or evening dress. The lightness of its fabric, and lacy richness of its appearance, add to the beauty of its effect, when extended over white satin or sarsnet.  The trimmings and decorations of this elegant and unique article should either consist of white lace, beads, or satin. We recommend the sleeve to be made long and full, with a cuff of white satin, and with correspondent ornaments. This very attractive article is to be purchased of Messrs. Waithman and Everington, No. 104, Fleet-street.

My comments: I think this one has yellowed somewhat with age, but it is very dainty and feminine. It almost looks as though the holes were sort of stamped in—up close, you can see the distortion of the (very light and loose) weave of the fabric around the openings. Interesting method of production.

No. 4 is a permanent blue striped twill jean, manufactured expressly for the waistcoats and trowsers of men of fashion; it is also particularly well adapted for the trowsers and waistcoats of young gentlemen, under their hussar jackets, during the summer season. Its whiteness, and delicacy of shading, will be found superior to any other article before introduced, and is greatly to be preferred to the blue wove stripe, of antecedent production, which exhibited, at best, but an uncongenial and ordinary appearance. This simple article, which at once combines neatness, elegance, and utility, is manufactured for, and under the immediate direction of, Mr. F. Dietrichsen, of Rathbone-place; whose superior style of cutting men of fashions’ clothes, ladies’ riding habits, and young gentlemen’s hussar and other dresses, has deservedly obtained for him the patronage and orders of a large portion of the nobility and gentry, in town and country.

My comments: A densely-woven twill, of a weight somewhere between today’s shirting twill and lightweight denim. The stripes are printed, not woven. It seems a little lightweight for “trowsers” (love that spelling!), and unless human nature has changed greatly in two hundred years, giving “young gentlemen” white trousers to wear in summer-time will simply result in a great deal of laundry to be done!

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