Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Treasures, Treasures, Treasures

Confession time.... When you are a collector there are few things more enjoyable than finding treasures that you just have to have - especially when they are actually within your budget! I must admit that I didn't actually set out to look for any of these items - somehow they found me... Given that first up is a pair of Edwardian women's bloomers, I thought you needed to know that!

I saw these and was just drawn to them. They are of the softest cotton and the lace on them is fantastic
including these medallions on the side of each leg. I think what really drew me to them is that I had recently being doing some research on early Wellington and had been reading about a ball that was held at Government House in 1901 to mark the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. It was just a few months after the death of Queen Victoria, decolletage was all the rage and strict dress rules were in place for those attending. One woman who attended the reception wrote this to her sister -

At the evening reception a chamberlain stands at the end of the corridor and turns back all ladies whose low dresses are kept from falling off by more than one little strap! Invalids and elderly ladies may get a doctor's certificate to keep them more dressed. It sounds tom foolery and I wish a prince would arise with enough originality and commonsense to make a new departure, at least in the colonies.

What an incredible thing - going to the doctor to get an exception from having to wear a low cut dress - and all the time you are wearing bloomers like these underneath! And to think this is almost 10 years after women in New Zeland got the vote. It just amazes me - suffice to say the bloomers had to come home....

Then last week I found this, in amongst a group of doilies (I needed to restock after making my daughter the blanket!) This is filet crochet - made to mark the Anzac's in WWI. I couldn't believe it. Such a thrill to have
increased only by the discovery last night of an almost identical piece in Jennifer Isaacs' book The Gentle Arts: 200 Years of Australian Women's Domestic & Decorative Arts, which Gina put me onto. Isaacs comments that many of these pieces were made with patriotic motifs and that they remain a legacy of the women who were forced to stay at home and worry about their sons who were far away fighting. You probably can't clearly see the text from the book - it says that the piece was made by Mary Ann Bridge who lived in Scone, New South Wales. She had 13 children (13!!) and her three youngest sons served in WWI. I hope they all came home to their mother.

And lastly, something that clearly called to me because of the time I am spending with kimono at the moment - a wonderful apron from the 1930's. After all the work in the embroidery it was never finished and hasn't had the ties put onto it.

She is far too beautiful to confine to a cupboard or drawer after 80 years of waiting. Rest assured I will be putting ties on it and wearing it with delight - when serving something small, dainty and non-staining to guests! Maybe over gin and tonics on the deck.... can't get into too much trouble with that!


kreachr said...

Ooh, I love your bloomers!! And what a simply gorgeous apron! Definite must-haves. Excellent treasure hunting :-)

Gina E. said...

Hi Phillipa, I have just now discovered your comment on my aprons blog - you must have thought I am so rude to ignore it back in January! I don't go to my apron blog very often, as you can see!
I LOVE this apron of yours (and the bloomers, such exquisite stitching) - I have many that have been embroidered but not finished off, and one wonders why the lady didn't finish it. Maybe she had no intention of wearing it - just wanted to embroider that design.