I have this friend, DC: I can call him a friend now, but when we worked together, he was more of a nemesis, mostly because of his OCD tendencies, intense perfectionism, and complete inability to meet deadlines. It was a classic example of Mr Failure-to-Plan working poorly with Miss Contingency-Plan-Required. We literally knocked heads installing an exhibition, and I can still feel the hollow ringing pain. But it’s been six years, and with that distance, friendship is possible.
I’m only in this for the artillery.
But he’s got this idea. In August 1763, Boston celebrated the Treaty of Peace ending the Seven Years War (known here as the French and Indian War). There are fantastic descriptions of the celebrations and Thanksgiving Proclamations issued by the colonies, and you can read more about it in the Boston Gazette 8-15-1763.
My friend’s idea is to re-create this celebration, complete with cannons and volleys, and to that end he has enlisted local re-enactors, including a unit he didn’t realize I was part of when he asked me if I had a 1763 impression. True to form, we are asking questions he’s not yet prepared to answer… including, what sort of people do you want these townspeople to be? With the calendar as packed as it is, stitching up militia and my own clothes needs to start now, what with the regular regimental requirements due in June and again in August, and oh yes, actually maintaining life and a tolerable standard of cleanliness in the home. (DC is moving to Europe in the Fall. After this event, when he leaves North America, I expect we’ll be better friends.)
Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-1789) Portrait of a Woman called Lady Fawkener circa 1760
The reason I want an answer now is simple: I want a hat. After steaming and cramming The Hat onto Mr S’s head, I deeply desire my own Hat. I don’t covet much, really, and a hand-made piece of headwear made by someone you know and respect seems a very innocent thing to covet, even if coveting is wrong. But to give the Favorite Hatmaker time to create a hat like the one at left, and me time to trim same, I need to know rather soon if I should be a lady or a cherry-seller.
I started a Pinterest board (when all else fails, collect images) of 1763 ideas. It’s a pretty simple thing, really, gown with robings, cap, blah blah petticoats blah blah, but: isn’t it all about the fabric? And the trims? And, lest we forget, the coveted hat!
Paul Sandby, London Cries: Black Heart cherries… ca. 1759. YCBA, B1975.3.206
The Sandby cherry seller can probably be replicated with an open gown with robings made from B&T’s Virginia cloth; the question is merely of color, drape, and patience waiting for swatches. (Wish Wm Booth still had that yellow and blue striped linen, but my blue and white linsey-substitute would have to do.) This is simple enough, really; I have a cap like the cherry-seller’s cut out, somewhere, or linen to make one, anyway.
Paul Sandby, London Cries: The Fishmonger (detail), ca. 1759. YCBA B1975.3.210
Maybe the compromise is this, yellow, with a black hat. I suspect this hat is straw, but perhaps I could combine the hat above with this idea. The black hat and black cape are very appealing. The answer, of course, is all in research: find out about the men in Thomas Marshall’s Boston Militia, and from there I can find out about, or make intelligent surmises, about the women. But that’s irritating, as military/militia-based history often is–to be dependent on the men. Perhaps the less annoying route lies through JSTOR…. and following up on the memory of a Boston widow-businesswoman.
In the end, I’m realistic enough to know that I shall be lucky to get a new hat trimmed at all, given all the menswear there is to complete between now and August. Even my plans for chitzy sewing this week turned late yesterday into, “Oh, but I thought you liked the Adjutant. We’re going up Saturday for fitting.” I suppose that means they think I’ll finish something enough for fitting.