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Victorian Library

item number #LISA0001-20110202-01

Antique Victorian 1879 to 1883 MAGENTA SILK Cuirass Overbust Corset with Saffron Ribbon Lace ASIS

Here is a rare example of a magnificent extant 1879 to 1883 Cuirass Overbust Corset, made in the finest materials available at the time. There are only a few rare examples existing of similar Red silk Victorian corsets seen at the Met. Museum. (Those same corsets also featured in the sublime book, "Fashion in Detail" by Eleri Lynn. However, even with those few corsets, this is the only authentic mid Victorian corset I have ever seen made in the rich hue of MAGENTA, with all the fine, original trims still surviving!) The unusual Magenta seen in this corset is a Medium purple-pink, with a bluish cast- not a normally seen "purple" persay, and the silk ribbon is a very bright "Saffron" yellow- not a corset worn on a shrinking violet.

I have heard it said that these types of Victorian corsets referred to as a, "Lover's corset." I don't know whether this term is technically correct, but it was said to me that these early colored corsets (not the serviceable black and white in this period usually found) were made with the purpose of being REVEALED to someone else...this corset is made to purposefully be eye-catching, and revealing as to garner attention! Lady Lucille Duff Gordon didn't make her famous colored underwear for royalty until later in the century.

This stunning Magenta silk satin corset is believed to be of French decent (however, there are no maker's markings). It displays some of the tiniest machine stitches I've ever seen in a mid century Victorian corset... about 20 perfect stitches per inch! This beautiful corset has a slightly elongated, 15" curved steel spoon busc, with seventeen steel stays per side (11"- 17" varying lengths along the fluctuating curves of the corset.), with an additional 3", 22 miniature stays (not steel) for each side to support the bust fabric face, so the fabric face gleams, rather than have a reflective shine. Although this corset is a small waisted size, it displays a surprisingly ample bust cup area. There is an ultra-fine, French blonde silk lace trimming, (finer machine threads than baby hair) in a Fleur patterned, "Van Dyke" point edge. Has a nearly transparent honeycomb net ground along both top and bottom edges. This gossamer lace is threaded into the insertion beading with 1/4" bright saffron yellow silk satin ribbon for maximum contrast with the magenta. The lining is made of finest, strong quality, "candlelight" ivory, silk/mercendized cotton twill coutil. The long silky adjustment lacing ties are made of finely-woven, pale yellow silk listle (yes, just like the gloves...) and have steel end theaders.

Definitely a museum quality corset. And although (in theory) the body of the corset could be worn (I just know some of you might be tempted to want to try it on!) this corset just should not be worn... it is just too rare to risk possible damage due to the innate nature of the fineness of the materials used. However, this gorgeous corset would make a SUPERB as a display since the corset itself has good tensile strength, or featured in a high end corset collection, photographed for a corset or rare clothing book, or, as a one of a kind pattern, etc. Although the corset is in amazing condition considering... it is not perfect, and so is so is "ASIS" and "AS FOUND."


The condition details always makes things seem more involved than they really are...so please realize I am doing my best to cover the details so you can make a well- informed decision, without any surprises.

The outer silk satin is colored richly and very evenly, except for a 1/4" round (lighter) reddish spot and the fine, surface rub marrs from where the tight waist of the bustle dress rubbed off in areas the fine surface silk face to expose the back weave of the fabric, which is a very slightly lighter silk taffeta. (Silk satin on the fabric face, and silk taffeta back.) Good news is that the silk rubs are very subtle, and the ultra fine marks (approximately toothpick thinness) although some are over 3" long, they do not break through or weaken any of the corset body fabric, and they also do not distract from the overall innate beauty of this corset- just show that it had been worn and loved. (See all photos.)

There are no wear holes around the busc openings, nor on the steel grommets- usually the first area to show heavy wear on silk corsets. There is also no rust or corrosion anywhere! Around a few areas of the Magenta silk self-fabric edging under the trimming, there are small areas of wear through to the threads there. (On corset face, you can see a 1/32 round of a tiny wear area that was tacked down by the lace at front, opening top, a vintage repair.) About 80 percent of the gossamer silk lace trim is in good condition.

There are areas where the lace had been tacked down (as the lace over the decades eventually became worn and begun to tatter in a few small raised areas such as high bust, and hip points). Frankly, this lace is so fine that it's nothing short of a miracle that it even exists at all today! The lace is the tiniest bit dingy, but this subtle enough to almost not be noticed at all. Some of the insertion beading has worn away from wear on the fine nature of the thread, and there are some breaks and a small amount of small holes in the lace. The saffron ribbon is strong, and shows one twist where I can see some tiny re-tack stitches on the lace and beading area to help save the lace from completely getting completely worn away-- thankfully this was done! It was re-tacked decently at some point later with matching type thread and tiny stitches, so the lace these days seems pretty stable- unless the lace was treated roughly. (Good thing- there is no way this lace could have survived otherwise.)

Stays are all strong and intact/ in casings, and the coutil innards are exceptionally strong, with only a few tannish tiny spots inside a nearly perfect interior. The silk listle lacing ties have 3 tears, none that go all the way through, and I believe these lacing ties could be rewoven or repaired, but to display, I would remove the lacing and put on a stronger lacing tie for display purposes so the silk ties stays intact over time. This lacing tie silk is just so fine, it honestly just seems as though it might tear more at great pulling pressure. I had very carefully loosened the corset to fit very loosely on a very soft, fabric covered foam mannequin, so the corset barely clung to the foam form, as not to stress the lacing ties any further. Even with the flaws, I believe they are not distracting, considering the great beauty and refinement of this rarely found Victorian corset.

This item is sold and no longer available.

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ASIS Lace Ribbon Saffron with   Corset Overbust Cuirass SILK MAGENTA 1883 to 1879 Victorian Antique
ASIS Lace Ribbon Saffron with   Corset Overbust Cuirass SILK MAGENTA 1883 to 1879 Victorian Antique

Estimated Current size Approx.:

Unsure about size? Go to the page
Size Tallest length Bust Waist Hip Estimated overall condition scale of 1-10 condition rating
Extra Small but long with a full bustline28"30" approximate full C cup19"26"8Very good condition taking into consideration of age and fine materials

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This item is sold and no longer available.

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