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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Archive for January, 2024

Specs on The San Francisco Gold Rush Embroidered Silk Shawls / Mantons de Manila

Tuesday, January 30th, 2024

SPECS ON THE BLACK AND WHITE EMBROIDERED SILK SHAWL

Black and White Silk Embroidered Manton de Manila from Canton circa 1845 –
aka Spanish Flamenco Shawl or Embroidered Silk Piano Shawl.

The Heavy Weight Silk – the black fabric section is 64 inches square. It is then bordered by a 6 inch hand done macrame knotted lattice, plus 20 inches of long fringe around all sides in ivory silk. The final measurement is 116 inches square including the fringe.

Folded in half on the diagonal, as you would fold it to wear it, in a triangular configuration, this shawl is 7 and 1/2 feet across on the Hypotenuse – Black Silk Section – the macrame hand knotted lattice and the long fringes are in addition to this measurement – an extra 26 inches for the fringe around the outer edge of the shawl.

The shawl weighs 3 lbs or 1.361 Kilograms = 1361 Grams – It is exceptionally heavyweight for these shawls so it is of the very highest quality.

SPECS ON THE BIRDS OF PARADISE EMBROIDERED IVORY SILK SHAWL
Ivory Silk Embroidered in Multi-Colored Silk Thread in Patterns of Birds, Flowers and Insects – Manton de Manila from Canton circa 1845 – aka Spanish Flamenco Shawl or Embroidered Silk Piano Shawl.

The ivory silk section is 65 inches square and is bordered by a 5 inch hand done macrame knotted lattice, plus 13 inch long fringe around all sides in ivory silk. The final measurement is 101 inches square including the fringe.

Folded in half on the diagonal, as you would fold it to wear it, in a triangular configuration, this shawl is approximately 7 and 1/2 feet across on the Hypotenuse – Ivory Silk Section – the macrame hand knotted lattice and the long fringes are in addition to this measurement – an extra 21 inches for the fringe around the outer edge of the shawl

The shawl weighs 3 lbs or 1.361 Kilograms = 1361 Grams – It is exceptionally heavyweight for these shawls so it is of the very highest quality.

Both Shawls are double embroidered – thus embroidered on both sides – therefore completely reversible. There is no wrong side. Embroidery is extremely dense, again a testament to the high quality of these shawls.

These are true antiques produced in the specialty embroidery workshops of Canton, China. They were made specifically for export to the Americas – both North and South – during the mid-19th century. Both of them were acquired by a ship captain in Canton and brought by ship to Manila, then taken to San Francisco on one of the Manila Galleons where they were purchased from the sea captain during the San Francisco Gold Rush in 1850.

See the story of their provenance here. //ladyviolette.com/2024/01/28/two-antique-manton-de-manila-embroidered-silk-shawls-from-the-san-francisco-gold-rush-1850/

Rare and beautiful historic clothing and accessories are for sale in my online shops. If you see something on this blog that you are interested in buying, but do not find it for sale in my shops message me on Etsy or Ebay and I will get back to you about availability. I check messages daily and can always prepare a special listing for you if you do not find it already listed in the shops.

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutiqe

Poshmark: cocoviolette 

Fashion Conservator: Lady Violette Boutique

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Two Antique Manton de Manila Embroidered Silk Shawls From The San Francisco Gold Rush – 1850

Sunday, January 28th, 2024

Part One in a Series on Antique Mantons de Manila, Antique Embroidered Shawls from Canton, Antique Embroidered Silk Piano Shawls, Embroidered Spanish Shawls and Spanish Flamenco Shawls ……..

ABOUT THE BLACK AND WHITE SILK SHAWL & THE IVORY BIRDS OF PARADISE SILK SHAWL Acquired in San Francisco during the Gold Rush in 1850:

During the Gold Rush, San Francisco was a frontier boomtown, a slice of the Wild West that was rapidly civilizing with the influx of money from the mining activities. In the early 1850s, two sisters attended the traveling opera in San Francisco, in a makeshift music hall with wooden chairs for seats. They wore their status on their persons, in the form of two dramatic, embroidered silk shawls, imported all the way from the exotic Far East by rickshaw, rail and sail. As they made their way up the steps, the shawls flowed around them, adding a sense of glamor and drama to the evening before the opera even began.

These women wore Cantonese, via Manila, Mantons – exotic heavy silk shawls hand embroidered in Canton for the export market, originally produced for well to do fashionable women in the Americas.  These two shawls were acquired by a ship captain in Canton and brought by ship to Manila, the capitol of the Spanish Colony in the Philippines. Then they traveled on the Manila Galleons from the Philippines to San Francisco where they were purchased by a gentleman gold miner who had struck it rich from the sea captain in 1850 during the heart the San Francisco Gold Rush (1848 – 1855.) It was socially and economically important for this businessman to exhibit his success by dressing the women in his family in the most expensive and fashionable attire of the times. In those days the opera was the place to see and be seen as well as the place all manner of social and business transactions were conducted. It was the perfect venue in which to exhibit these exquisite and expensive shawls and show off his beautiful wife and sister…

Provenance: His niece wrote, 

“This Spanish Shawl was bought in California ($150) in the years of the Gold Rush  – 1849 by my father’s Uncle, Nathanial S. Harold, for his sister my grandmother, Margaret Case, who gave it to me about February 1881. My uncle bought these two shawls from the captain of a ship that came from a far country for his wife and my mother and these two ladies wore them to the Opera in San Francisco.” Estylle M. Davis.

 Incidentally $150 in the years of the San Francisco Gold Rush (1850) is equal to $6,090.24 today! (January 28, 2024.) These shawls are now 176 years old!

The black and white shawl covered with camellias is one of those two shawls worn to the opera so long ago. It is wonderful and unusual that I know the provenance of this beautiful shawl. I acquired it 45 years ago from an antique dealer friend of mine who purchased it directly from the niece of the original owners described above. I have both shawls from this transaction. The niece wrote the above statement on a card that accompanies the shawls in her own handwriting. 

The second shawl is ivory silk covered in a profusion of brightly colored birds, butterflies and exotic flowers skillfully hand embroidered in silk thread. A large peacock with its tail spread open occupies the center of this shawl, while colorful pheasants, flamingos and other exotic birds fill out the four corners. It is finished with a heavy white silk macrame lattice and long ivory fringe. I call this one The Birds of Paradise Manton. Manton is, simply, the word for shawl in Spanish.

These exquisite shawls were among the most treasured possessions of these two early San Fransisco women and were passed down to the niece who kept them carefully until she was an elderly woman in her 80’s, wearing them only on holidays. These shawls were beautifully made and properly cared for and, as antiques, will continue to increase in value. They are both in excellent condition for their age – clean and free of damage. The embroidery is perfect. The hand macrame lattice is exceptionally elaborate and heavy and the silk fringe is dense and long. 

The embroidery on the Birds of Paradise shawl is unique in its imagery and imagination especially in the realistic depiction of birds from pheasants, to flamingos and peacocks – other atypical details include fanciful flowers and vines and plant pods insects and butterflies. Much of the embroidery is executed in satin stitch but the tails and wings of the peacocks and other birds are done in a fine herringbone stitch that imitates the texture of feathers. 

When I discovered and acquired these two San Francisco Gold Rush Shawls I fell in love with them. I was fascinated by the highly skilled embroidery and the incredible designs as well as the history surrounding them. I began to investigate Manton’s de Manila and visit them in museums and textile collections whenever I could. And I began to assemble my own collection. I have now been collecting Manton’s de Manila for 45 years. In the process I have learned a lot about them and the women who originally owned and wore them. I have learned how these shawls were made and the history of the silk and fine embroidery trade between China, the Americas and Europe.

In future posts I will discuss the interesting history of the Mantons de Manila and share beautiful examples from my own collection and others. I am a dancer and I of course become interested in how the shawls have been incorporated into Flamenco and Spanish folk dance. I will show examples of their use in dance and how each art form has enhanced the other. Isadora Duncan, the famous modern dance pioneer, also initially from San Francisco, famously wore such shawls with her famous Delphos gowns.

I will also explain how to care for these shawls properly, how to restore them, how to evaluate the originality, authenticity and quality of an antique Manton de Manila, and how to locate one if you want to acquire one for yourself. Because there is a lot of information to share I am choosing to do it in a series of Manton de Manila related blog posts.

The embroidery on the Black and White Shawl is executed in satin stitch. Both shawls are double embroidered on both the front and back in the same images making them completely reversible.

These shawls are large. The Black and White one is 60 inches square before adding the measurement of the fringe which is another 5 inches of macramé lattice work plus 13″ of long silk fringe. Thus another 18 inches of fringe all the way around the shawl.

When these shawls were made in the 1840s Western ladies were wearing enormous voluminous skirts that steadily grew in size through the decade! The large skirts were supported underneath by multiple petticoats, sometimes as many as seven at once. At least one of these petticoats would be a crinoline – a type of petticoat stiffened by horsehair. The steel cage crinoline was introduced in 1856. It provided immense relief from multiple heavy and cumbersome petticoats and allowed skirts to reach even larger new proportions especially between 1858 and 1862, relatively inexpensive, the cage crinoline was worn at all levels of society. The shawls were required to cover the lady and her crinoline skirt – thus the size! Today this size can adequately cover a queen or king sized bed as a coverlet or be used on a grand piano as a piano shawl or as a glamorous coverlet on a chaise lounge.

Shawls and beautiful historic dresses and other clothing and accessories are for sale in my online shops. 

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutiqe

Poshmark: cocoviolette 

Fashion Conservator: Lady Violette Boutique

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More Cold Rayon Dresses and Fabric Prints

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

This one is a multidirectional key and flower print on a black ground that was used for a short sleeved dress with a peplum.

Once again shearing is used at the shoulder to gather and soften the bodice.

A peplum was added at the waistline in solid black rayon fabric to simulate the effect of a jacket without actually using the extra amount of fabric that would have been required to make a jacket.

Here is a dress made by Anita Starr in the 1970’s for C’est Moi using pieces of cold rayon fabric salvaged from ragged old 1940s WWII era dresses that were no longer usable.

These dresses are made in the WWII spirit of mend and make do thereby creating a whole new dress design out of reused fabrics. One of them was worn by Geraldine Chaplin in the movie Nashville.

Anita Starrs dresses for C’est Moi used so many bits and pieces of cold rayon dresses that they serve as a library of cold rayon WWII era fabric prints!

Betsey Johnson used a fabulous cold rayon print in her 1990s cocktail mini dress in a nod to the 40s…

Liz Claiborne came along with this beautiful rayon print and her version of the 40s inspired dress in the 80s – again doing the short sleeves and the narrow skirt that elongated the woman’s figure

Rayon takes dyes very well so the fabrics created were bright and feminine giving women a much needed cheerful lift in the WWII era and easy to produce in simple geometric designs and floral prints.

The other day someone told me she wanted to see more Cold Rayon Dresses and wanted to buy them, and she asked me to post more. I explained that they are now very hard to find. I do put them in my online vintage stores whenever I come across one, but it is difficult to find them. If you see one you like in your size grab it! If you see a dress length of Cold Rayon Fabric buy that as well. It was usually made in 4 yd or 4 meter lengths of 35″ – 39 ” wide fabric which is barely enough to make a dress. You can make a dress or get a seamstress to make you one in a pretty WW II era pattern. There are a lot of old patterns out there and they are not hard to make. The fabric is not being produced anymore so vintage Cold Rayon has become rare and is highly collectable.

You can find several Cold Rayon Dresses and other rare and beautiful historic clothing and accessories for sale in my online shops.

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutiqe

Poshmark: cocoviolette 

Fashion Conservator: Lady Violette Boutique

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Another Cold Rayon WWII Era Dress

Saturday, January 13th, 2024

Cornflower Blue Floral Print Cold Rayon Long Dress  – 1940’s

A gorgeous historically significant 1940’s Cold Rayon Dress from WWII Era in an iconic multi-directional print of flowers and green leaves including yellow carnations, pink cosmos and white flocks . 

This garment was a long, but casual dress – a housedress, or a day dress. Such a dress could also be worn casually at the beach. It is a long graceful garment  made of light weight airy fabric. A cool and comfortable garment perfect on a hot day.

During the war fabrics were rationed and prints were cleverly designed to be multi-directional so that laying out and cutting pattern pieces could utilize as much of the yardage as possible. Rationed yardage allowed no more than 4yds for a dress. And it was usually only 36” – 39” wide.  Every inch of precious fabric was utilized in these clever dress designs. 

Rationing dictated the wartime silhouette and influenced the fashions. Dresses were narrow and featured short sleeves, high necklines and slim skirts. Clever cutting and seaming was utilized to embellish this basic shape. Bodices were closely fitted and the waistline was often slightly dropped below the natural waist to create a long waisted line through the torso. This made a woman look taller and narrower. 

This blue floral print dress has shirred gathering on the shoulders and a V-shaped neckline – a popular style of the times.  The waist shaping is created via long inch wide stitched down tucks through the torso running from the under bust to the hips. These tucks draw in the waist and upon release create soft and flattering fullness through the bust and skirt!  The waist is emphasized further by a self fabric sash style belt tied at the natural waist. 

The softly gathered long skirt features a sloped hemline 2” shorter in the front than back thus creating a graceful feminine silhouette. The short and fluttery little kimono sleeves are set in. 

* Fun Fact: The word Kimono actually means short sleeved in Japanese!

In and Out: An innovative 25” long metal zipper runs down the front if the dress expertly concealed in the center front seam – except for the little silver pull tab which you see at the center front of the v-shaped neckline. This was a very modern form of garment closure during this time period and I can imagine it was rather fun and tantalizing to show off how your zipper worked! The little silver pull tab is actually cute at the point of the V. I would consider wearing some delicate  silver jewelry to subtly accent it! Perhaps a slim silver bangle bracelet and delicate silver earrings.

The necklace shown with the dress is a vintage Venetian glass string of graduated beads peppered with goldstone and is period appropriate. I would accessorize this dress with a wide brimmed straw hat and a straw bag decorated with embroidered straw flowers in the colors of the dress and a pair of beige straw period appropriate wedge heeled sandals. I might add a pair of delicate silver earrings and a silver bracelet to co-ordinate with the silver-colored, modern at the time, metal zipper. Why not call attention in a subtle way to this modern closure?

This dress (for sale on Etsy and my other stores) and other rare and beautiful historic dresses and other clothing and accessories are for sale in my online shops:

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutiqe

Poshmark: cocoviolette 

Fashion Conservator: Lady Violette Boutique 

Waist shaping via 1″ tucks released under bust and at hip to create soft gathers and a self tie belt…..

Darts in bodice extend down from shoulders and up from waist to shape trim fitted back ……

Darts at top of skirt give a slim close fit through the hips. Hemline is sloped – 2″ shorter in front than back creating interest at the ankles via an asymmetric hemline…..

Shirred shoulder softens bodice front – note multiple rows of shirring in decorative stitch pattern….

Short and fluttery Kimono sleeve – a dainty and popular fly away sleeve taking little fabric…..

Long slim lines made women look slimmer and taller giving an illusion of increased height….

Fitted bodice, belted waistline, slim skirt, sloped hemline, and fluttering fly-away Kimono sleeve all contribute to a soft and feminine wartime silhouette…..

Popular V-neckline with novel front metal zipper closure was new and modern at the time ……

Long zipper, also known as a “continuous metal clothing closure”, was beginning to be used in manufactured clothing. It saved time in dressing compared to doing up 25 tiny buttons with loop button holes and a buttonhole hook – helpful during air raids if you had to suddenly jump out of bed and get to a bomb shelter….

Finally it all comes together in a soft slim feminine day dress using less than 4 yards of 36″ cold rayon material thus conforming to wartime fabric rationing requirements while flattering the wearer. Note the multi-directional print which allowed pattern pieces to be placed facing in any direction on the fabric wherever they could be fitted – thus eliminating fabric waste……

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