1812, 18th century clothes, 18th century clothing, 19th century, 19th century clothing, Blue wool coat, common dress, common people, fashion, menswear, museum collections, Rhode Island, Rhode Island Historical Society, RIHS Museum Collection, style
Continuing the theme of wool coats that will make you itch in August, I present you with another Rhode Island coat. This coat has features I’m more familiar with: a smooth sleeve head, slightly fuller tail pleats, and tail pockets (I love secret pockets). The notched collar with its fine beak-like points makes me think this is later than 1790-1800, as the style heads in the direction of the white wool coat from yesterday’s post.
There’s no waist seam, so we can be pretty certain that this coat is earlier than 1818, if not 1810. Another telling measure of age is cuff treatment. This slit cuff seems to start in the 1780s or 1790s and persist into the early 19th century, (and beyond: gentlemen, check your coat sleeves and you’ll see what I mean).
That’s an awfully long range, 1780s to forever, but the smooth sleeve head and lack of waist seam help narrow the time frame. I’d hazard– and this is a hazardous business– ca. 1805 date for this coat, which would give me leeway for a common man to wear this into 1812, though make it more difficult for him to wear it in 1799/1800. (You can look back in fashion, but high style on the lower sorts is a tricky business and requires a lot of thought.)
For travel to 1790-1800, I have another coat in mind, though it will probably be a long time before I get it made. This, too, has classic markers of its time, though the collar’s stand-and-fall style makes me think it is closer to 1790 than to 1800.
The lining of this coat is a particular treat: every time I’m able to pull this out for viewing (and since it’s boxed right now, that’s not happening), that blue glazed wool is a treat. The wear mark on the left proper tail lining is intriguing, too: sometimes those start as moth holes and progress, and sometimes they’re wear that’s later found to be delicious and expands by chomping. (Wool and silk and protein, and delicious treats for pests.)
I find these coats really exciting, and often feel a little “Make All the Coats,” but of course I can’t, not quickly, anyway. And these two don’t really solve my August in 1812 problem, as the clock ticks on…but I think there is a solution, thanks to Sharon Burnston and Fitting & Proper.