Monday, May 6, 2013

Millinery Monday: The Smell of Old Lace

I never intended to have a "Millinery Monday" theme, but that is just the way things have worked out the past couple weeks. I just had to show off my latest acquisition:

It's an original bonnet veil! Bonnet veils were the 19th century version of sunglasses, cutting down on glare and providing a bit of shading for the eyes while also keeping a physical barrier between a lady and strangers while she was abroad. This one is a spotted silk netting ground with an edging of chantilly lace. It measures about 30 inches wide at the top edge, and 16 inches long at its apex. I don't know if you have ever handled antique silk lace - it has a stiff hand and is as light as a spiderweb. It also has a lovely smell, like talc powder, usually because it was saved in some little old lady's closet or bureau, and it exudes grace from another time.

Obviously, it has been well-loved in its lifetime...

The border is coming separated from the ground in a couple places, and there are some obvious repairs to the ground from its previous owners. That's not so shocking when you consider that this veil is likely around 150 years old! I don't know about you, but I think she looks pretty good for her age (yes, I personify my antiques, and this one is clearly a girl). The border can be repaired with some fine sewing thread and some careful needlework.

Here is the main reason I am excited I snagged up this beauty - and for the even prettier price of $13. This bonnet veil was being advertised as doll clothes. In fact, the  seller was advertising it as a "cutter" item - meaning vintage linens and laces that can be cut up for doll clothes. Cut. Up. For. Doll. Clothes. If you can, imagine the look of horror on my face. I didn't so much snag up this great deal, but I saved it in the name of history

Unfortunately, this situation is all too common with vintage and antique textiles. Heck, it's common with ALL antiques in today's DIY world. Beautiful wooden furniture with lovely patina is painted lime green with zebra stripes (yes, this is an example from real life). Antique transferware is smashed and turned into mosaic architectural pieces. And you know what? It is the right of any person who owns an item to determine its use, and if that use is doll clothes, then so be it. It is equally dangerous to think that we can save every little thing in the name of history. That way lies an episode of Hoarders. Things are used up, they become tattered and torn, and at a certain point they are no longer worth saving. Lace becomes moth-eaten. Buildings suffer from fires and water and time.

But, I have saved this one small, beautiful thing that can be cherished for years to come. And hopefully, whoever is next in line to own this little beauty will be able to enjoy the smell of antique lace, too.

What about you? Do you have anything you have saved from an untimely demise? What do you think is worth saving - and is the DIY movement ruining antiques or giving them a new life?


Keturah said...

I purchased all the remaining pieces to a 1920s celluloid dresser set. They were at an antique show and some had been sold off individually but most were still there. I just thought it was sad to have them split (although I never really did anything with it, and now it's with Glenna to be sold on eBay or at an antique show.)

Betsy said...

I have the same feeling when I see sets of china being split up, Keturah. Oh, the humanity.

Kristi Arndt said...

I saved my grandma's 1921 Underwood typewriter from auction last summer. For $15. She was the only owner, and I remember endless hours poking the keys learning to type as a kid. It still works.

Unknown said...

I am a kindred spirit at heart. I am blessed to have my 5th generation grandmother's camel top trunk...complete w/ garments she cherished. She saved EVERYTHING. Baby clothes, quilts, HER WEDDING DRESS!!! many wonderful things...and bits and pieces of lace, tatting, nightgowns, lawn fabric. So many things I have fashioned for my own grand children now..into Christening gowns, night gowns or just pillows to keep for ever. :o)