Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Regency Fabrics, Part 23

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.

Today’s four samples are from the  November 1811 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is excellent; the page itself is free of foxing and is only slightly toned, and the fabrics themselves seem to be in excellent condition as well.

Here we go!
No. 1.  A fawn-coloured lustre for evening or half-dress. This appropriate article has not before been introduced of this becoming and delicate shade. It is usually trimmed with swansdown, or other light skin, or with falls of thread lace; and is sold by Mr. George, No. 19, Holywell-street, Strand. 

My comments: Oh, lovely! This appears to be a woven silk of a slightly uneven but still beautifully smooth hand, and the color is indeed becoming. I’m sure it drapes very well, and while fairly opaque, would do best over an underskirt.

No. 2. A new sea-weed printed cambric, whose warmth of colouring renders it particularly adapted for the approaching winter season.  It is calculated more immediately for the domestic or morning robe, and is worn with lace cuffs and frill. Sold by Waithman and Son, corner of Fleet-street, Blackfriars.

My comments: Heh—another vintage quilting fabric look-alike, looking very American Civil War era to my eyes. The weave is smooth and even and the printing very sharp and precise.

No. 3. A checked ladies’ Merino cloth for habits, German coats, pelisses, &c. It is similar to that represented in the walking figure of the present Number of this work. The trimmings most fashionable and consistent for coats of this article are, Spanish silk braid and frogs, with divers kinds of fur, happily contrasted with the colour of the cloth.

My comments: A cozy, lightly flocked woolen, not so heavy that it wouldn’t fall nicely. Very curiously, while the check pattern isn't visible to the naked eye, it can been seen when scanned. I cannot tell if the square pattern was woven in or printed as it just doesn't show up in person; also, the scan makes it look like the contrasting check is a sort of faded acid yellow, which is not apparent in regular light--the fabric appears a uniform vanilla color.

No. 4. A Persian kerseymere, worked in tambour, first introduced in this country by the late Persian ambassador, and is much in vogue with our male fashionables. Some gentlemen trim the waistcoat, formed of this unique article, at the collar and breast with a border or edging of sable; it has a most comfortable and becoming effect during the winter months. This article, together with No. 3, is furnished by Messrs. Maunde and Co. wholesale and retail drapers and mercers, in Cornhill.

My comments: Similar in texture but slightly lighter in weight that the woolen in No. 3...but that yellow...and the black, white, and orange pattern...! The yellow is brighter in natural light than it appears to be under the scan. I’m trying to picture a gentleman’s waistcoat made of this and trimmed with fur, and expect that Beau Brummel would have had to have a brief lie-down in a darkened room with a cold compress on his forehead had he spotted one of his friends wearing it.

And an interesting side note on this month’s samples: in the next month’s issue is a note that reads We forgot to mention in our number for November that the Persian Kerseymere, No. 4,  furnished us by Messrs. Maunde and Co., is worked in tambour by a society of unfortunate, but industrious French immigrants, residing in the west of England. An interesting footnote on many levels...do I feel a story coming on about an impoverished but nobly-born French emigré and the foppish earl who falls in love with the fabric of his new waistcoat and moves heaven and earth to find out whose dainty hands stitched it? Stay tuned...

Any thoughts on this month’s fabrics?

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