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A little niche: The Perfectly Plain Pocket [A] Early 19th Century

A little niche: The Perfectly Plain Pocket [A] Early 19th Century

'Lucy Locket lost her pocket,

Kitty Fisher found it...'

Here is something that may only be of interest to pocket & reticule collectors, but lovely for us all to examine!

In the early years of my examining Georgian costume, it may have been possible for me to purchase an embroidered 18th Century pocket, but my wish list of first time garments to study was far too long. Now, an embroidered pocket is so hard to find that one needs a cool couple of thousand to get one.

This sturdy and utilitarian pocket has no adornment at all, but is still rare and I have only examined one once before, and that was some years ago.

Of course, there is so much information about the wonderful 18th Century, decorative 'hidden' pocket, and we learn that, by the early 19th Century, when ladies wore such lightweight muslin gowns, a pocket underneath would be cumbersome. So along came the reticule, a bag that the lady would carry for all to see. Did the reticule replace the pocket? Well, one would think so, but no. 

We know that pockets were still worn underneath gowns because examination of Regency clothing shows us that they still have pocket slits at each side of the skirt. And pocket slits can still be found in dresses through to the 1830's 'Romantic' period.

So now the lady had a pocket and a reticule!

Nancy Bradfield helps us as usual, with her sketch of a lady in full underwear during the period 1825-35. [See The Study for Reference 1968, P128] Here is the hidden pocket, large and invaluable for hiding away her personal belongings.

This pocket is large and has a short and long tie to fasten it around her waist. The ties are different lengths so that the pocket fits perfectly on one side, between waist and hip. 

Made of a strong, striped twill, the pocket is functional and has no decoration at all. Excellent for beneath a lightweight, muslin gown.

The construction of this one is so basic that it makes me smile! Cut in the usual pear shape, with a waistband on which the ties are sewn, the deep, v-shaped opening for the hand is created by simply turning back the square ends and sewing them inside!

The pocket is given 3-D roominess by the application of stroked pleats under the waistband, tightly held together at the centre, then becoming looser at the sides.

This pocket is very sturdy and would probably last forever. They are rare probably because people threw them away over the years, being purely functional. Shame!

The only fault is a very small stain to the front as shown, which I do not think to be rust. You can easily give it a cold soak to remove. There is a tiny spot of the same colour at the back of the waistband.

The waistband is 0.75" deep and the pocket length below it is 15.25". At the flat base, the width is 12". Plenty of space for the lady's every need!

I have another niche piece to come! Exclusive to those of us who like the history of costume and certainly not for 'prettiness'!


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