Basket-hilt sword
Drury, Drury & Son Swordcutters and Goldsmiths
London
1770-1780

Because of its readily recognizable full-cage or “basket” hilt, which completely enveloped and thus protected the user’s hand from all sides, the Scottish-heralded basket hilt pieces became common among the highlanders sometime in the late 16th century. By the 17th and especially 18th centuries, however, their popularity had spread throughout Britain and into continental Europe. These swords (sometimes also referred to as a “backsword” for the blade’s flat back edge) furthermore became a decorative symbol as well as a formidable one, the weight of the hilt, thickness of the blade and balance overall convincing most mounted cavalry units – Napoleon’s for one – to carry them while in action. 

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.

Triple barrel pistol
J. Laugher
London / Birmingham
1780-1785
An early repeater, the priming (or flash) pan (positioned at the top-rear of the barrel) contained three individual primer chambers, each one connected to a specific barrel. A small measure of powder was loaded into each chamber (housed within a “box lock”) and each barrel was loaded individually. After firing a shot, the pan was manually rotated with a small turning knob exposing the next chamber and, subsequently, readying the next shot.

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

Embroidered bag, by Mrs. James Burges, c. 1795. The maker was probably Mary Margaret Dennis (born 1779) who married James Burges in 1799. Each side of the bag has delightful floral embroidery in silk thread.

This bag is currently on exhibit in Lowcountry Embroidery.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new 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

Open-front sack-back gown, 1760s. The fabric was made and embroidered in China specifically for export to Western markets. The design is a meandering floral with ruching and chenille trim. This style of back, with a box pleat at the neck and hanging loosely from the shoulders is often referred to as a Watteau back, after the 18th century French artist Jean Antioine Watteau (1684-1721) who painted so many women wearing this type of gown (also known as a robe à la française).
In addition to the indicative Chinese embroidery, the fabric of this gown is 29 ¼” wide with tempole holes in the yellow selvages, clear indications of Chinese manufacture.
The dress is lined with linen. The long sleeve ruffles were “pinked” on the edges – a finishing method utilizing a pinking iron to cut a zig-zag edge. The pinking iron was a sharp punch hit with a hammer that cut the fabric either into tiny scallops or zig-zags, much like pinking shears today. It was a popular method of finishing edges, especially on flowing sleeves, where a turned hem would be too stiff.
This dress is currently on exhibit in Charleston Couture. Come visit it for yourself!
Since we first posted this dress, we’ve had several requests for detail photographs. We managed to find a few ancient ones. We apologize, the photo quality is not great, but it will help our textile junkies out there. Click here for the new photo set.
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new 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

Open-front sack-back gown, 1760s. The fabric was made and embroidered in China specifically for export to Western markets. The design is a meandering floral with ruching and chenille trim. This style of back, with a box pleat at the neck and hanging loosely from the shoulders is often referred to as a Watteau back, after the 18th century French artist Jean Antioine Watteau (1684-1721) who painted so many women wearing this type of gown (also known as a robe à la française).

In addition to the indicative Chinese embroidery, the fabric of this gown is 29 ¼” wide with tempole holes in the yellow selvages, clear indications of Chinese manufacture.

The dress is lined with linen. The long sleeve ruffles were “pinked” on the edges – a finishing method utilizing a pinking iron to cut a zig-zag edge. The pinking iron was a sharp punch hit with a hammer that cut the fabric either into tiny scallops or zig-zags, much like pinking shears today. It was a popular method of finishing edges, especially on flowing sleeves, where a turned hem would be too stiff.

This dress is currently on exhibit in Charleston Couture. Come visit it for yourself!

Since we first posted this dress, we’ve had several requests for detail photographs. We managed to find a few ancient ones. We apologize, the photo quality is not great, but it will help our textile junkies out there. Click here for the new photo set.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new 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

The Charleston Museum is kicking off TEXTILE TUESDAYS today.  Each Tuesday we will post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display.  We hope you will enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY!Sack-back gown, Charleston, SCThis beautiful gown was worn by a member of the Middleton family in the 1750s or 1760s. It is a sack-back gown of ribbed silk brocade trimmed with elaborate fly-fringe. The matching petticoat is revealed by the open front design of the garment.  Note the stylish side bustles or panniers. These were at their widest in the 1740s. A triangular stomacher covers the lady’s stays (corset); she might have worn a matching one (like this reproduction), or chosen one of contrasting fabric. Donated to The Charleston Museum by Miss Alicia H. Middleton in 1937.  [1937.159.2]

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

Sack-back gown, Charleston, SC
This beautiful gown was worn by a member of the Middleton family in the 1750s or 1760s. It is a sack-back gown of ribbed silk brocade trimmed with elaborate fly-fringe. The matching petticoat is revealed by the open front design of the garment.  Note the stylish side bustles or panniers. These were at their widest in the 1740s. A triangular stomacher covers the lady’s stays (corset); she might have worn a matching one (like this reproduction), or chosen one of contrasting fabric.

Donated to The Charleston Museum by Miss Alicia H. Middleton in 1937.  [1937.159.2]