The Checks Don’t Match

I’m writing this post while sitting with DH uncomfortably on the top row of bleachers at a truck & tractor pull on a cool Saturday night. My butt hurts and I’m bored. So this final pair of Little and Large from the Fashion Museum of Bath is meant to distract me from my plight. 

I really like this doll. The Museum describes her as follows:

Object number: BATMC VIII.01.70
Object: Fashion doll, circa 1870s
Description: Circa 1874 fashion doll with bisque porcelain head and kid leather body, arms and legs. Mohair wig. Wearing a white alpaca dress and jacket with purple check, braid and buttons. White cotton drawers, white shift and white petticoat underneath.
Probably by a French maker such as Jumeau or Gaultier, although the various parts were often made in Germany and assembled in France.
Collection History: Mrs Mary Taylor donated a collection of dolls and childrens clothes to the museum in 1974. Her great grandfather had been rector of Bath Abbey at one time and had 7 daughters. Mary said the dolls had belonged to her great aunts. The youngest daughter, Miss Jessie Kemble, was born in 1861.
Fashion History:
Purple aniline dyes used in this dress – reminiscent of the purple used in the parasol in Collection Stories.

This is the earliest doll in the exhibit, dating from the early 1870’s. Her face makes me smile. I appreciate the pale bisque, slightly wonky eye cuts and her innocent expression. 

This dress was most likely homemade. Note the visible stitching on the trim and binding. I want those purple silk thread-covered buttons.

The draping is not very elaborate, making me think that this costume wouldn’t be too difficult to recreate. 

Who says you must match plaids and checks?

The life-sized dress is made from fabric with a similar pattern and coloring. But the similarity ends there. 

The Museum describes it:

Object number: BATMC I.09.1139
Object: Day dress, circa 1876
Description: Purple and mauve check taffeta. Bodice buttoned down front. Sleeves with pleated frills of brownish mauve plain taffeta. Skirt trimmed with similar frills and also draped folds of the plain taffeta.
Circa 1876.
Collection History: No correspondence located (2017); but donor identified as Mrs Malcolm Essex to Langley Moore Collection.
Displayed in 1998.
Fashion History:
Fashion for checks in the 1870s – part of the vibrant pallet (sic) of colours and patterns used in fashionable dress at this time.

A fine tailor made this dress. But the checks don’t match at the seams on this dress either. I don’t know if this is a pattern in Victorian dress. I haven’t studied enough examples. But it makes me wonder if matching checks and plaids is a give away indicating reproduction fastidiousness.

There’s a lot of ornamentation, but with its subtle color and tactful manipulation it is not overwhelming. I hate to iron, but I’d love to get my iron on the trim around the jacket front. Notice how it is folded back on itself at the bottom forming rosettes. I need to iron all of it back to its former glory. 

There’s a bustle and small train. The front is more detailed than the back. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this survey of the Little and Large portion of the Fashion Museum of Bath’s Collection Stories Exhibit. I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to share these dolls and fashions with you. 

It’s 11:00 pm. The T&T pull started at 6:00 pm. I’m done, but I don’t think the trucks and tractors will ever be done. DH wants to to see it through to the end. Payback for years of doll shows he tells me. After tonight we are so even. 

Until the County Fair Demolition Derby and Truck & Tractor Pulls in August. 

DH went to a lot of doll shows. 


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