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The Fortune Teller, 1789. Lewis Walpole Librray. 789.1.2.1

The Fortune Teller, 1789. Lewis Walpole Librray. 789.1.2.1

I like hats; I think it’s been made clear here before that I have a bit of a bonnet problem. As it stands, I have something in the neighborhood of a dozen bonnets, and really need to get my Etsy store up and running…

But as in life as in the Richard Scarry story, there’s always room for one more, and more to learn, so my collection hasn’t stopped me. I blame my Grandmother Elsa, who owned a dress shop, collected shoes, and had a particular face for trying on hats.

Black silk bonnet, 1770*1780. Colonial Williamsburg 1993*335

Black silk bonnet, 1770*1780. Colonial Williamsburg 1993*335

I’ve been thinking about bonnets because I lately came across some engravings showing what might be called baleen bonnets. At left above, a bonnet that is clearly reminiscent of the bonnet in the Colonial Williamsburg collection on the right. The CW bonnet (1993-335) has seven baleen bones, and a baleen rib around the bonnet brim.

It is strikingly similar to the bonnet in the 1789 engraving, down to the decoration. In “Kissing the Baby,” a lithograph in the collection of the British Museum, the older woman appears to be wearing a ribbed black bonnet in the style my friend calls “lampshade,” and that others call “bucket.”

Kissing the Child. Lithograph by David Wilkie, 1800-1841. British Museum, 1852,1211.134

Kissing the Child. Lithograph by David Wilkie, 1800-1841. British Museum, 1852,1211.134

There are more bucket or lamp-shade-like bonnets depicted in engravings and paintings, and it is possible that flamboyant style was the one that got Ann Warder in trouble in 1788. I remembered this passage on page 223 of Amelia Mott Gummere’s book, The Quaker, A Study in Costume,:whalebone quote

Whalebone bonnet? Interesting… so, having an interest but no whalebone, I send the Young Mr to the basement for the remaining stock of caning I’d used for stays, and came up with a plan to replicate a “whalebone” bonnet, which I will describe and show you next time!