Rare & amazing 'Romantic era' pleated muslin collar
The Mary Ireland Collection - see Blog
Sometimes, something comes along that is so unusual that it doesn't matter to me at all that the Victorian's 'cut it up'. This is such a piece, although it is only suitable for the collector of rare and unusual textiles. It cannot be used.
I have left it on Mrs Ireland's exhibition paper because she has made very useful notes about it, written in pencil on the paper surround. She also mounted it just as it would have looked originally, before the Victorian's got their hands on it!
Here we have an extraordinary collar which has to belong to the 'romantic' 1830's. It would have been very large and sat over the huge sleeves and sloping shoulders of an 1830's dress.
When I first saw it, my instinct was that it was straw-work, the colour being a natural rich cream. But look closely and one can see, that all the intricate flower heads are made from pleated gauze!
I asked the Lace Mentor to check that the ground netting is machine made [it is - machine made netting appeared in the Regency period]. I also asked about the tiny, intricate fillings at the centre of the flowers, which appear of lace construction but are actually of complex drawn thread.
Mrs Ireland comments that it is a highly unusual form of the fashionable ribbon work of the late Regency era and I can see the link. But how it was done, and how long it took to work those tiny pleats is anyone's guess. Simply extraordinary! I have never seen anything remotely like it before. A very special example of fabric craft in the 1830's.
Please do read the condition report below. Very important!
As the crow flies, the span of the collar is 26.5" and the depth at those wonderful 1830's shoulders is 10"! A large specimin.
I hope that you can see from the photographs that this collar was cut down in the later Victorian period, with one 'wing' missing entirely.
Mrs Ireland has mounted it to show how it should look, with pencil marks to show the original shape.
The gauze pleating is still perfect - I cannot find anything wrong with it at all, apart from general age staining in places. If you wash it I am sure that all the pleats will fall out!
There is one join that she calls messy but I think is reasonable, but you will want this only for the rare workmanship, not for a collar in perfect condition.