Early & tiny Regency Spencer c1805-8
There are more sophisticated spencers, made of satins and with elaborate decoration, but this beauty is extremely rare because it is so early, and more than that, it has never been worn.
It has come from the collection of Mary Ireland, a prolific costume collector. We know the name of the lady who made it, the dating of it, and it is in near perfect condition!
The spencer may be for a child, because it doesn't fit even on my smallest adult mannequin, but many ladies were so tiny at the start of the 19th Century that we cannot be sure.
The whole of the spencer has two layers; an outer layer that I call silk gauze [Mary Ireland calls it organza] in white, and an inner layer of very delicate pink/lilac silk. As you see, the decoration consists of whitework daisy heads on muslin trims, at the cuffs and double to the shoulders.
The simple details are just delicious. We have tiny cords to gather up the cuffs, and at the extremely high waist, there are silk ties at the centre back to draw it up to fit. The neck would have been pinned, while the lower centre front edge has a pair of silk ties to gather the lilac silk inner and a stronger pair of ties to fasten the gauze.
Mary Ireland has made 4 notes on tiny labels which do not show on photographs:
* Made by Jane Addison
* 'Austen' 1805-8 [I don't think she means that it actually belonged to Austen!]
* Unwashed [spencer]
* 'Mint' condition organza.
Mary Ireland was born in 1891, so it isn't quite mint now! Nevertheless, it is completely undamaged and fresh. Amazing.
See condition report below for tiny issues.
I believe I will never see another like this again. So rare. If it doesn't sell - I get to keep it for a while! I will shortly be writing a short Blog about Mary Ireland, to show some of the other items in this fine collection.
Unworn, this spencer is in the best condition I have ever seen. The only issues are a little staining around the neck where possible pins were inserted, [Mary Ireland did shows and exhibitions] and a general slight dustiness to the white gauze. As you would expect! PLEASE do not wash it. The silk is far too delicate. Fantastic antique piece.