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More Quaker caps! Mother & child, early 19th Century

More Quaker caps! Mother & child, early 19th Century

Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic, but I am fascinated by the 18th & 19th Century Quakers. Not that I know much about their beliefs, but from the days when I first read about Elizabeth Fry, and her devotion to improving the conditions for women in prison, I have an image in my mind that they were all generally so 'good'! I am sure they were humans just like the rest of us in reality!

I have managed to purchase Quaker textiles before, but not for a few years. So I was thrilled to purchase a group of indoor caps from a known Quaker family whose names are identified. I will email the provenance to anyone who buys one of them.

Now, some time after selling the first three, I am returning to them because I have found two new and super sources of information about Quaker dress. The first source is a Pinterest Board by Hannah Rumball, entitled: 'Quaker Dress', with lots of images, including caps.

The second is the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA, who have a small but important collection on show, one cap being almost identical to the 'mother's cap' for sale here, and dated to the early 19th Century.

From this new research, I have discovered that the Quaker ladies did follow fashion trends of the time, but kept all their dress as simple as can be, with small differences, and always finely and beautifully hand sewn.

Taking the lady's cap first, it is made of such fine fabric it is almost transparent. The MFA, Boston, describe this fabric as Cotton Organdy. You see their cap as a screen shot with a black background in the images above. My lady's cap and theirs are of exactly the same fabric, which previously I would have called the finest muslin. Always more to learn!

All of the ties to my cap are present. You see the funny little straight lappets have ties running through them, a Quaker distinction, and these would be tied neatly under the chin. There are images of a lady wearing them at the MFA.

The lady's cap here is a little fragile, the fabric being so delicate, so do read the condition report below. But it is amazingly white.

Now to the baby's cap.

This one is a slightly different shape, and certainly a different fabric. I feel that I know the name of the fabric but cannot remember - if I do recall, I will add it here. [Getting old!]

The fabric is a firm weave but lightweight - it is not cotton lawn. I have seen it before. This one is more of a pale creamy colour and is in excellent condition with no flaws.

The shape of this cap is different, having a horizontal line across the cap back, which is very finely gathered. This horizontal line is the only line that does not have gathering strings. All other parts are adjustable. Most of my images show the cap with all the ties gathered up slightly, but they can be straightened easily. This cap is not at all fragile.

Although I do not know the date, it could either be earlier than the lady's [ie late 18th C] or later. But certainly no later than the mid 19th Century.


Measurements of the lady's cap: Around the face 16", not including front flounce. Band around front of head is almost 3" deep.

Baby cap measures 11" around the face and the straight band behind the flounce is 2" deep.

Do ask if you would like to read about the family provenance.


    The baby cap has no faults at all. 

    The lady's cap has no discolouration and is pure white. However, as mentioned above, the fabric is so delicate that it has 'melted' into small holes over time. I have shown the worst hole, which is at the back flounce. Others are all smaller; 3 small holes to the gathered cap back, the striaght band behind the edge flounce has one small hole and finally, the flounce has a little wear, forming tiny holes.

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