I recently attended a Jane Austen Tea at the 1809 Hedge House, one of three historic properties the Plymouth Antiquarian Society maintains in Plymouth, MA. You’ll be hearing about it for most of this week, because Executive Director Donna Curtin and her team very kindly answered questions, and allowed me to take photographs. But as you know, photos are nothing like the real thing—so if you’re in the Northeast U.S., put this on your field trip list.
Today we’re taking a close-up look at a beautiful piece of embroidery that was once a border for a skirt or petticoat. Because of the length, we had to photograph it in sections (the photos have been cropped a little, too). Since tambour work was something the lady of the house or her daughters would do, this might be the work of the dress’s owner, whoever she was. It was not only a ladylike occupation, but a wonderful form of artistic expression.
Why do we have only the border? Maybe the dress was damaged in some way, or went out of style, and the border was meant to be used in another article of clothing. Or maybe the work was done by a loved one, and preserved out of sentiment. Whatever the reason for our having a fragment, we can get an idea of what the complete dress looked like here at the Met Museum.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.