Online databases are incredible tools. While my museum career has mostly focused on textiles, dress, and ethnographic materials, I never know what is going to inspire me when I search mfa.org, metmuseum.org, emuseum.history.org (Colonial Williamsburg), and so forth. There was a lot of grumbling among older staff when directives to get our collections management databases online. “Our photography is old!” “How can we review all the data?” “How will we handle all those research requests it will generate?” The mission of every museum (look at their collection management policies) is to collect, study, preserve, and educate – and we can do that to an even greater extent by putting our databases online.
Finding this charming silver wager cup with a wealth of garment details was the result of searching the mfa.org database. Visit her record here, where you can zoom in on the image. Enjoy the cuffs on her shift, the trim on her hat, the rosettes on her shoes, her breast knot, the ruffle on her handkerchief, the gathers on her apron, and the ribbon flapping in her face, all executed in silver gilt.