Clothing Forum

Ralph & Mary Briggs

We received a couple of letters with information about some of the questions posed in earlier columns. The first is from Mona Hubbartt, the second from Fritz and Kathleen Kannik. We are including them ver batim.

IF YOU have any information on any of the questions posed here or in earlier columns, have some tidbit to contribute, or are looking for help yourself, please write us at 1537 31st, Des Moines, IA, 50311 or contact us by e-mail at rbriggs@nwta.com or adeline@netins.net. We can use your name or not, your choice.


Dear Mary,

Since I have to document almost all my wares, I feel like I should contribute a small amount of information regarding stockings. I have been producing stockings for reenactors for almost 12 years and unlike my competitors, I do make all my hose myself. I have never bought or sold commercially produced hose. The hose that I make are seamed hose, like the originals. I produce them in wool, cotton, silk and now linen. They are substantial and are long-wearing. Enough of my advertising, on with the articles found.

The first primary source comes from a painting hung at Yale University's Art Gallery. It was painted by Ralph Earl c 1770. He painted Roger Sherman who was one of the first representatives at the First Congress in 1787. He is shown in this portrait wearing black knitted wool stockings.

On September 6, 1768; Mr. John Norton, who was a company representative for the London firm of Norton & Sons brought a shipment of goods to Virginia. This firm was the chief supplier of clothes and fabrics to Virginia.

Herewith is an excerpt from a partial listing:

2 prs fine large Men's gray worsted Hose

2 prs white ditto, 1 pr black ditto, 1 pr strongest black silk ditto

4 prs finest thread brown ditto

2 prs fine white worsted Hose for a small woman

In another invoice dated 15 February, 1770 lists:

4 ps. coarse Scotch cloth

4 ps. white Dowles (coarse linen)

4 ps checks

6 dozen Monmouth caps

10 prs. colored stockings for servants

10 plain hats for ditto

24 yards Duffle with Buttons & Mohair for servants coats.

So you can see by these few examples that most of the imported stockings were made of worsted (wool), cotton, or silk. I hope that this helps when deciding on what color to purchase. I also have some records of French goods but they are all in French. I can translate some records but old French is difficult indeed.

The reference for these examples is from Dress in North America, Vol. 1, The New World, 1492-1800 by Diana de Marly. p. 126-129.

I also have documentation on French militia knitted "smocks" that we prefer to call "camisolle." This is documented from a painting by Paul Beaumont dated 1754. It is titled Trois naufrages de Levis 1754. This painting hangs in the Church of Sainte-Anne-de-Bearpre, Quebec. I don't think this "camisolle" changed much throughout the years until after the Revolution in France. This garment was handed down.

I hope that this information will be of some help. I am always glad to assist as I have and am still doing research. I belong to Baldwin's Regiment but you can also catch me singing around the fire with de Charleville Militia.

Your obedient servant,

Mona Hubbartt, Westwood Traders, P.O. Box 144, Cottleville, Mo. 63338, (314) 441-9457


Stocking colors

A good book on stockings is Socks & Stockings, by Jeremy Farrell, London: Batsford, 1992, ISBN 0 7134 6665 O. Also, take a look in the compilations of run-away ads, such as Had on and Took With Her, Clothing in Female Runaway Servant Advertisements from The PA Evening Post,...1775-1784, Compiled and Edited by Sue Huesken & Karen Mullian (SK Shortgown Research, Box 41, Palmyra, NJ 08065) I just read this and enjoyed it very much! Of the five pair stockings described by color, one was black, three blue, and one white. It seems white was fashionable, but maybe not as practical.

Fritz and Kathleen Kannik.