I’m not a Pennsylvanian German scholar, but I love considering the depiction of 18th century dress in the ebullient art form of fraktur. What is real? What is fancy? Can we trust depictions of women when they hold gargantuan sprigs of flowers in their hands? Do we trust the printed or embroidered sprigs on these women’s aprons? Their caps have black cauls (the crown portion) and white headpieces (the brim), components occasionally viewed in folk costume. In 18th century newspaper runaway advertisements, “black”, “dark”, and “German” caps are described on the heads of Magdalen Hackaliver (ran away 6/23/1756), Charlotte Maria Conrad (8/11/1755), and Anna Elizabeth Hesselbach (8/28/1788). The chevron shapes around their necks evoke handkerchiefs, but is the color on their cuffs just artist caprice? Documentation of working women piecing printed fabrics onto their gown cuffs can be found in runaway advertisements, and is found in extant baby clothes preserved in the London Foundling Hospital billet book collections, housed at the London Metropolitan Archive. Check out Threads of Feeling, an exhibition organized by John Styles and The Foundling Museum – it’s just opened at Colonial Williamsburg.
Comments are closed.
Great article! It would seem natural to piece those cuff and collar areas, since they probably wear out first. If you can make it look a little prettier, too, all the better.
It would be interesting to check the folk tradition of the particular area in Germany that the people who wrote the fraktur came from. Did I ever tell you that the area where I’m from (Hesse) has just about the gawkiest folk clothing I’ve ever seen, and I’m old enough to have seen a handful of farm women wearing it in the market. To be fair, I have seen one photo where it seemed a little becoming, but that’s about it. There was a lot of variation in folk clothing from state to state, I think.
Love to you and Dr. V!
Hi Helen! Thanks for the compliment. I need to do more research on German folk clothing. I find all the variation in headgear fascinating. Hope all’s well with you – would love to get together and hear how things are going!