Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lovely, lovely lace

So here's a wee story for you - a couple of months ago I was the monthly speaker at our Guild. They were doing me a favour really. I wanted to do a dry run through of a presentation I was due to give at the Costume and Textile Symposium in Nelson (another story, for another time).

The talk I gave was about some research I did last year into a donor to the textile collection at Te Papa, our National Museum. The donor was Mrs Phyllis Cousins who, in the 1960s, donated well over 200 items of mainly women's clothing, dating from the late 1800s through to the 1930s, to the Museum.

I'll tell you more about Mrs Cousins and her collection another time, but as part of the presentation I talked about how struck I was by the decorative laces on many of the garments and how dull our modern clothing often seems in comparison. The item which caused me to trail off into this side observation was, I think, this one.

A morning jacket from around 1900 it features a particularly stunning lace with what I can only describe as thread balls featuring on the lace edge of the sleeve. The jacket is thought to have perhaps have been a maternity jacket as it has fullness at both the front and back to accommodate a pregnancy.

Then again it may have been this 1905 morning jacket that set me off - both are firm favourites from among the Cousins collection and I felt very privileged to have been able to study and work with them.

However the really unexpected part of this tale occurred a few weeks after my presentation when a parcel appeared in my letterbox containing this lovely silk and lace handkerchief. It was accompanied by this note:


Did I hear you say at your presentation that you like lace? I do hope you did because I am sending a small treasure for you to be custodian of -----

I know it is very old, the team at the identification day at Te papa a few months back indicated that I should look after it. I know that I probably won't but thought that you might.

It came to me via an op shop collection of linen a few years back. No provenance I am afraid. Comes with no attached strings - has been rattling around my linen cupboard for years.

Kindest regards

So I wanted to say a big thank you to my unknown benefactor. It is a treasure and will be looked after and, from time to time, bought out and admired.

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