Friday, November 20, 2009


Friday, November 20, 2009

Loretta reports:

I've been writing historical romance for a hundred years or so now, and researching diligently all the while. What this does mainly is show me how much I don't know. No surprise then, that I learned some new things at the Milliner's Shop in Colonial Williamsburg.

I learned, for instance, that the milliner sold more than clothing. You could buy snuff from her. And fans and gloves and ribbons and pins. And other stuff I forgot to write down. You could buy these beaded necklaces, too.

I've done some research on jewelry for a couple of my books: the precious gems a nobleman might bestow upon the heroine or his mistress. Those necklaces from Rundell & Bridge and other high end jewelers fastened with gold clasps.

Here's the new thing I learned in CW: The ones in the photo have, as you see, loops covered with thread. The lady ties them at the back of her neck with a ribbon.

The little package in the upper right corner holds straight pins. They're made of steel and, as you may be able to read, they come from London, as does so much else at this time.


Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

These necklaces -- strands of beads to be worn with the wearer's choice of a ribbon bow -- reminded me of the fad a couple of years ago for strands of oversized fake pearls strung on ribbons, with the bows to be worn to one side. A pretty (if short-lived) style. There really is nothing new under the sun, is there?

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Had no idea that Milliners were like an all purpose shop for accessories. Interesting to know for the future.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Elizabeth, I hadn't realized that there are a couple of theories about what the word millier's from -- some say that it's derived from the early English word for "Milanese", Milan, Italy being an important source at the time bonnets and other accessories. Other word-folks guess that it's from "mille", Latin for thousand, to signify the variety of goods for sale. (It's only in the 19th c. that milliners begin to concentrate exclusively on hats.)
Interesting either way!

Loretta Chase said...

And the milliner would be like your own personal shopper. "Oh, this necklace would set off that gown as well as your complexion, miss....and here's some snuff. Let's keep your husband sneezing, so it'll be harder for him to yell about the bill."

Vanessa Kelly said...

OK! Milliner as personal shopper - I love that image. Loretta, are those glass beads, or types of stones?

You are always teaching us something interesting, TNHG!

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

The pearls were glass beads, but the rest were what we now call "semi-precious" stones: carnelian, adventurine, onyx, amethyst, rose quartz, garnet, and turquoise. Coral was really popular in the 18th c. -- most of the red beads in portraits are coral.

Though there isn't any in this picture, Loretta and I really, really, really liked the marcasite that we saw -- right Loretta? :)

Loretta Chase said...

OK, yes, I confess I had a marcasite accident. I've always been partial to them.

La Bouilloire Noire said...

Just stumbled on your page. I'm a Regency Living Historian and wanted to comment on your new found news on beads. What your milliner might have left out was how rare blue beads were. In fact they cost so much to get blue glass beads, that if a man could afford a strand of them he could buy himself a wife.

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