Short and swingy, this little 1920s crinkled chiffon dress is the perfect choice for a muggy afternoon. The chiffon is printed in sprays of red, blue and yellow flowers and fashioned into a sleeveless shift, with a flounce at the hipline coming to a peak in front, echoing the V-neckline. The hem has picot edging and dips down on each side.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

A springtime delight, this 1870s lavender silk moiré bodice is beautifully ornamented with embroidered eyelet and lavender chenille. The front opening is covered with ruched cream chiffon. Lined with lavender taffeta, it has 15 encased stays along with a white ribbon inner waistband, bearing a label from M. O’Brien / Robes / 266 West 38th St., N.Y. Most likely, the bodice had a matching skirt. It was probably worn by Gertrude Ellen Dupuy Sanford (1841-1902).

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

This lovely lavender print crepe dress would be perfect for a warm summery event. It is a Martha Manning Original, worn by Ruth Holmes Walker Gadsden (1895-1980) of Summerville in the 1940s. The dress has a v-neckline that buttons up the front, though unfortunately the buttons are all missing. There is a stitched waistline and a gently pleated skirt. Tucking on the shoulders, back and sleeves provides gentle shaping.

Martha Manning was a clothing manufacturer based in St. Louis from 1939. Their dress factory was in nearby Collinsville, IL. A 1946 advertisement states: “Martha Manning Originals are scientifically fashioned to wish away pounds and years. You appear taller, slimmer, lovelier… the you, you want to be, in a Martha Manning.”

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Beautifully embroidered silk fabric is what makes this dress so special. Although the dress is styled to the 1830s, the fabric is probably 18th century French. It makes sense that such lovely fabric would be re-used in new garment to meet the changing fashion. All worked in silk using a tambour stitch, the bouquets of flowers are tied with a meandering ribbon. The dress has a scooped neckline, short sleeves with braid trim, and hooks and eyes to close the back opening. The full skirt is pleated in front and gathered in back. It was given to the Museum in 1940 by Katherine Felder Stewart, a descendant of Eliza Lucas Pinckney.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

April showers bring May flowers – and what a lot of flowers there are on this cotton voile dress from the 1960s. This explosion of color and print has a rounded scoop neckline with a ruffle, sewn waistline and matching belt, flared skirt of four bias panels and long sleeves. It is lined with white nylon. It was retailed at Rosalie Meyer’s feminine apparel shop at 316 King Street. Rosalie (1902-1995) had managed the Charleston store of Mangel’s clothing chain for years before she, with her husband, Henry J. Levinson, opened her own shop at 3 Liberty Street in 1949. At the time, she stated that her stock would be “strictly Charleston.” She moved to 316 King Street in 1957, continuing to provide clothing and bridal offerings until 1980.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

This lovely knitted bag with beaded design probably dates to the 1920s. The shimmery beading resembles stylized peacock plumes, perhaps an Art Deco reinterpretation of the ever-popular feather. Beading creates loops for the drawstring handle. It is lined with green satin and may have been owned by Julia McIver Logan (1885-1923) of Charleston.
 TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

This lovely knitted bag with beaded design probably dates to the 1920s. The shimmery beading resembles stylized peacock plumes, perhaps an Art Deco reinterpretation of the ever-popular feather. Beading creates loops for the drawstring handle. It is lined with green satin and may have been owned by Julia McIver Logan (1885-1923) of Charleston.

 TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

What better fashion for a lovely spring day in Charleston than a straw hat? Men and women, especially in a climate like Charleston’s, have loved straw hats of all kinds. The man’s boater was popular and stylish from the late 19th century well into the 1940s.

Our classic boater is a sharp Knox Fifth Avenue example with a wide blue striped ribbon band. It was worn in Charleston by George Stephen deMerell (1893-1989). Our collection also contains two additional men’s boaters, both in very poor condition, but both with Charleston retailer labels. A. Beauregard Betancourt (1861-1944) began his haberdashery career with C. C. Plenge, the oldest hat store in South Carolina, at the corner of Broad & Church Streets. He bought the business in 1910, modernizing and improving over the years. The label is also stamped with the owner’s name, R. B. Comar – for Robert B. Comar (1901-1976), who started as a shipping clerk and progressed to vice president of a steamship company in the 1930s. He probably wore this hat in the 1920s and 1930s.

Our other Charleston retailer label is from Berlin Bros. / Downtown / Clothiers & Furnishers / Charleston, S.C. Samuel and Benjamin Berlin took over the business (founded by their father Henry Berlinsky in 1883) in 1912, at the corner of King & Broad Streets. The store continues today as a premier shop for fine clothing. The hat was made by the Townsend Grace Company of New York & Baltimore. Founded in 1885, the company was one of three large straw hat makers in Baltimore, making it the Straw Hat Capitol of the U.S. in the 1920s. At that time the industry had over 3000 workers and produced three million straw hats annually.

Our ladies straw hat offering for spring is this wonderful woven corn shuck hat encircled with sprays of dried flowers and grasses. It too probably dates to the 1920s, with its deep, domed, close-fitting crown. It is lined with white silk.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

These fabulous French silk boots were the height of fashion in the 1870s. Bearing a label from “Gartrell / A La Providence / Rue St. Honoré / No. 359 Paris,” they are made of finely ribbed silk with delicate lace trim. Each shoe has seven embossed pewter buttons, extending up over the ankle. The French heel is covered in the same white silk. Paris was the fashion hub of the world, with designers and specialty shoe establishments lining the Rue St. Honoré. Even today, it is probably the most fashionable street in the world, with many major houses and brands there.

These shoes were worn by Gertrude Ellen Dupuy Sanford (1841-1902) and were given to the Museum by her granddaughter, Gertrude Sanford Legendre in 1980.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

It’s April Fools Day – so let’s look at what many thought was a foolish fashion. The hoop crinoline and huge skirt of the mid 19th century was the source of much satire and derision. But the fashion-setters remained undeterred for almost a decade.

Yes, the new, lightweight hoop replaced the heavy layers of petticoats to extend the skirt to a circumference of six to eight feet, but at what cost? As the cartoons of the day show, any number of mishaps could occur – from brushing too close to the fire and going up in flames, to getting tangled in the carriage hardware resulting in an embarrassing tumble. Getting close enough to a fashionable lady could prove difficult for a gentleman dancing partner or a server delivering a party treat. These cartoons suggested the wearer could become airborne in a strong breeze or could hide all sorts of mischief beneath the wide berth. Indeed, more than one Confederate lady was said to have smuggled supplies and information hidden in special pockets under their voluminous skirts. Emeline Pigott of North Carolina reputedly carried up to 30 pounds of goods to aid Confederate soldiers, as did Mary Kate Patterson of Tennessee and others.

Nevertheless, the lilting motion of the almost floating skirt was appealing for many and was again seen in 1950s party-wear and for many wedding gowns. The wide skirt makes the waist appear even smaller, a truly desirable trait in the mid 19th century.

Our museum collection dress today is a beautiful figured cream moiré silk taffeta, trimmed with black lace. The dropped shoulders and v-bodice focuses on that tiny waist. Ours even has a hidden pocket (though this one is quite small) in the right front seam. It is currently on exhibit in Fashion in Fiction, up until April 22, 2014.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Aerial bomb
unmarked
Germany
1915-1918A

With battlefronts across Europe coming to a standstill by 1914, airplane use during World War I quickly morphed from tools of surveillance to bona fide assault machines. In this earlier stage of the war, however, wartime aviation was still in its experimental phases and the available aircraft of the period were simply not strong enough to carry heavy ordnance into the air. Occasionally referred to as an “aerial grenade,” most early attempts at airborne bombing utilized small, handheld explosives that were physically thrown out of an aircraft’s cockpit by the pilot himself. The rear fins kept the bomb in a (relatively) vertical position in flight until and impact-triggered fuse at the bomb’s nose struck the ground and detonated the explosive charge.

Eventually, factories on both sides produced larger, stronger airplanes specifically for strategic bombing delivering multiple shells to a single drop zone, engineers designed specialized bombing sights to take the guesswork out of aerial targeting, and the explosives themselves became larger and more powerful.  

Weaponry Wednesday: Each Wednesday we post an object (or group of objects) from the Charleston Museum’s diverse weapons collection. Many Weaponry Wednesday items may be on permanent exhibit in our armory or elsewhere in the museum, but some pieces rarely see exhibition, temporary or permanent, but are well worth sharing.  We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on WEAPONRY WEDNESDAY! Also, we always want to learn more about our collection - if you have some insights on a piece, please feel free to share!  #WeaponryWednes.