Superbly embroidered 18th Century waistcoat with later renovation
In past years I have examined many embroidered 18th Century waistcoats, but when I saw this one, I had to buy it because of the outstanding embroidery skill and colours. It really is a treat!
On a cream silk base fabric, we have cascading pastal coloured floral sprays all down the front, to the flaps of the 'mock' pockets and then deeply around the base of the fronts, to include the winged lower side panels.
To compliment this wonderful sight, the entire fabric is then embroidered in a range of individual flower heads of mixed colours and elegant cream silk willowy leaf motifs.
The edges of each front piece are then finished with a beautful pink & cream embroidered spot design.
These waistcoat fronts probably date to around the 1770-80's period, so George III, because beyond that they began to get far shorter in shape.
Each front is in superb condition, extremely clean and fresh and not even a hint of splitting or wear. Very strong.
I am then guessing that, around the early 20th Century, someone wanted to wear the waistcoat, and took it to an expert tailor. This tailor did a wonderful job of replacing the whole of the back [including ties with a buckle] in a silk-like fabric, but I suspect not silk, and then re-lined the entire garment in a slightly different fabric, which this time possibly may be silk [but I cannot be sure].
This expert, who I would like to meet for his skill, used all hand stitching to attach the 'new' fabrics to the original waistcoat fronts, and what is more, retained all of the original buttonholes by sewing the new lining around each one.
As a result, although I am usually against large scale renovations to early garments, I completely approve!
The waistcoat measures approximately 28" from shoulder to base at the front, with a shoulder width of 3.75" and chest of around 38". It is very clean indeed, and could actually be worn with care.
Please do read the condition report below, where I will go into detail to explain the minor changes bought about by the renovation.
The most obvious feature that the early 20th Century renovations revealed to me, were the buttons, 11 of them, which were sadly, very 20th Century in appearance. Although they are unobtrusive, being a simple crema in colour, I simply couldn't keep them on! I am happy to send them with the waistcoat, but I believe that this piece deserves to wait until some genuine early buttons are found.
The 'new' buttons were placed exactly on top of where the original buttons would have been, so I have left the original thread so you know exactly where to stitch them on. [Shown in one photo if you look carefully.]
The 'new' shorter back will have been cut from the original I am sure, but the buckle is early 20th Century and I believe should be removed. Waistcoats of this late 18th Century period would have had ties but not buckles. I have left it in place.
Finally, there are two minor aspects where the renovation may have lost a little of the original fronts:
a] At the winged sides [shown in photograph], we can see that the floral design runs into the seam just a little. It looks as if the tailor cut away a little wear and thus just slightly shortened each wing. Just before the wings there are also very small trigular insertions. This again could be wear that has been removed, but we will never know unless the lining is removed.
b] I have shown you the neck edges, where the embroidered spot design graduates softly into the neck edge. Again, this might mean that the shape of the neck has been slightly altered. Indeed, there may originally have been a small, flat collar, but very hard to know unless you are an expert in gentlemans' 18th Century clothes. I have tried to show that this edge is beautifully hand finished and very professional.
There are a few very minor lines of discolouration, but this entire piece is superby clean and fresh. Absolutely no damage at all.
Gorgeous & profuse 18th Century embroidery!