Gentleman’s Waistcoat, ca. 1775
I discovered it by accident in my parents' house after they passed away in kind of a secret drawer in an old dresser in one of the bedrooms, and it was just laying there on some white tissue paper. But I have no idea where my parents got it or where it came from.
Where did the piece of furniture come from?
I assume the furniture came from Connecticut, where I was born and where my parents lived for a few years before they moved to Upstate New York. I assume they brought their furniture with them. I really don't know.
Well, what we have here is a waistcoat, and it was created in the last part of the 18th century, so somewhere between 1760 and 1780. It's hard to exactly date this-- men's fashions do not change as fast as women's do-- but these waistcoats actually were used starting all the way back to the 1740s. It was worn probably here in America. Look at the beautiful embroidery on this coat. Now, today, I can't imagine a man going out in public with an embroidered coat like this, or waistcoat, but that was the style back then. Not only was his waistcoat embroidered, but the coat that he would have worn over this would have also been lavishly embroidered as well, with corresponding and sometimes even wild patterns. He would have worn knickers and breeches with this. He would not have had full, long pants. This was part of an evening ensemble. The detail work is amazing, and if we turn this just a little bit this way, we can see that this is indeed a pocket that is made into the skirt of the waistcoat. So he would have space to put a comb or a watch or something else that he wanted to take with him. The fabric is of a fine silk. There is some wear, but overall, the condition of this garment is remarkable. It's completely original, it's completely lined with linen, and it is a wonderful treasure that you found in that hidden drawer. In today's market, 18th-century garments are considered quite rare and quite collectible. And if you went to a high-end retail market, you would expect to pay somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500 for this waistcoat.
Wow... wow. And it's okay that it's got all these stains? I shouldn't have it cleaned or anything?
No, don't have it cleaned at all, because today, some of the cleaning solutions that we have actually have chemicals that would break down the fabric in it. You do not want to clean this.
Okay, so I just don't touch it.
It's really in good condition for its age. You must realize it's 230 years old.
Wow. Oh, my gosh. I had no idea it was that old. I really didn't.
I love it.
I love it, too. I love the color.
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