Monday, 5 January 2015

1820s 1830s Lace Cuffs with Dorset Buttons

My latest find is a pair of beautiful 1820s/30s lace cuffs. As luck would have it my lace expert friend was down at the weekend, so I was able to pick her brains (and vast knowledge) about them.  They are formed of 3 sections, the top which is a piece of net doubled over, then the middle section which is embroidered net lace with the same honeycomb net as the top, and then the lower section, which is on a diamond net ground. The hand stitched Dorset Blandford buttons fasten with stitched bars. They will fit a wrist of 6 1/2''.

Late 1820s/1830s Lace Cuffs

They have the tiniest Dorset buttons I have ever seen, a mere 1/4'' or 7mm. There is some evidence of them being sewn to the long sleeves which these would have been worn with. There are a couple of holes along the top third of the cuffs, and there are a couple of pieces of thread. But this is simple conjecture here.

They are in very good condition for their age, but on one cuff there are a few issues. One of the buttons does not match the other 3. It has been replaced at some point with a 'Singleton' style of button. The other button on the cuff has sadly been damaged and bent. I can only guess that this was the cuff sewn to the sleeve of the hand of the writer maybe, or perhaps that one was damaged during washing?

Dorset Blandford button and Singleton button on 1820s/30s lace cuffs 

Date wise, I was thinking the 1830s, (due to my knowledge of fashion rather than anything else. I am trying to learn about lace, but don't find it easy). By the late 1820s and into the 1830s, long sleeves finished at the wrist rather than much further down over the hands as they often used to during the Regency period. And as pelerines, wide canezous/fichus came into their own in the latter half of the 1820s, lace and whiteworked cuffs were a beautiful accompaniment. Some were worn at the base of the sleeve with the lace cuff poking out, and larger ones were folded right back over the sleeve hem. In my 'go to' book for whitework accessories, "White-embroidered costume accessories: the 1790s to 1840s" by Heather Toomer and Elspeth Reed, it reads:-
"In the late 1820s  - mid 1830s this resulted in cuffs that were as flamboyant as the accessory they matched but, in the later 1830s, they became smaller and neater."

Late 1820s Gown with pelerine and Cuffs - The Victoria and Albert Museum

My friend brought out her 'linen tester' (everyone carries those in their handbag!), and was able to show me much more than I could see with my magnifying glass, it was excellent (I am buying one).  These cuffs have sadly been well washed and ironed, so my friend had a little trouble seeing what would have been more obvious without the ironing, but was still able to give me some pointers. The lace section of the hem/bottom of the cuffs (with the 'tallies', the square decoration) is most likely older than the middle section with the trailing flower motif. It is probably handmade entirely, although due to the ironing my friend couldn't quite see the picots clearly enough along the edge. She thinks the middle section is hand run on machine lace.

Late Regency/Romantic Era Lace Cuffs

The point about lace cuffs such as these is that it would have been so simple to remove small pieces of lace from something else which was perhaps damaged, or no longer of any use, rather than make a pair of lace cuffs from start to finish. The lace sections here are certainly different; the bottom is made with a diamond net, the middle (an embroidered machine made net) with a honeycomb ground.

Detail of late 1820s Lace Cuffs

You can see 2 other examples of nineteenth century lace cuffs in this earlier post:- (I think it is very interesting that all 3 have the 'tallies' as a feature in the lace.)

Well, that is an interesting start to the year. I am currently studying an 1840s chemisette, with some interesting features, which will be my next post soon. I hope you are all having a good start to 2015!

Naomi x