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item number #SOLD0005-20090207-71

Authentic 1790-1810 EMBROIDERED Silk Regency JANE AUSTIN style English Ball gown in RARE size 16

This is one of those very rare ball gowns that you only run across once-a-lifetime. Why is that? you ask...Well... for one, it's so seldom you find early gowns these days- especially in highest quality embroidered silk like this one...Usually when they are usually found, they are in simpler styles...mostly woven or embroidered cottons and gauze, rarely made up in silks. Well, this well-to-do lady was most definitely tall for the time, unusually ample and curvy, not small- probably about 5'3"-5'4" tall, and the size is an unheard-of modern X-large size 16, with a full bust! Due to the wide bust band construction, I think the lady likely wore a corset to tame her curves. The gown does have flatness in front with 11" long hip darts, and much fullness in the rear for a high bustle to complement her shape.

This stunning English evening ball gown was originally purchased in Bath by a previous owner, and then was seen at the Albert and Victoria museum at an informal appraisal day. Their opinion was that the embroidered silk satin was originally made in the 1790's as a Directoire' style gown, restyled later to the shape seen now. The gown shows period alterations at the full, capped sleeves, waist sides near the early style "V" back (it's also possible the wearer could have gained weight when the style changed, and needed that waist alteration then possibly). The back closures look to have changed and been rolled with very tiny hooks not used now. Additionally, under the bust-band and piping on the inside, it shows that the Jane Austin style gown likely was originally worn with a lower, fitted waistline, seeming wider at center. It's my opinion that the skirt seams might have once been fuller too, as the selvedges are wide. This beautiful gown is fully hand sewn throughout. There's brass small and large hooks with hand worked thread closures. Along the bottom skirt hem has a triple band of early flowered Valenciennes lace with machine net ground- a new invention during the Regency period and widely used. Also, the fine, pleated modesty net along the low, plunging neck has the old style net ground too. Although the neck and sleeves are hand piped with self-fabric (another decorative trim that was wildly popular), there's no net or lace on the sleeve ends.

The gorgeous cream-candlelight toned, heavy-weight, fine reflective face silk Duchesse satin, having a silk taffeta weave back. The floral bouquet medallions in carefully executed embroidery looks almost as though it were from the Orient (which would have been expensive to import at the time). The gown's expertly embroidered using silk-satin-stitch vibrant silk floss. The use of vibrant colors to have tonal variations in the flowers and leaves are so perfectly subtle, a viewer doesn't notice the well thought out colors first, it's something that is discovered. As each bouquet medallion starts, it's small at the waist (although it's the same pattern) the bouquet flowers become larger and more defined in the same pattern as they reach the bottom hem, having subtle variations in each if you look closely. This rendering shows the masterful restraint and discipline of the worker, which obviously took a very long time to complete.

Now look at the bouquets, there are some interesting hidden traits in the flowered motif... some of the flowers have pink hearts for leaves, and there are finely crafted and hidden "arrow" leaves. I've identified Morning Glories, Cabbage roses, and daises (this is all to the best of my knowledge). As the Georgians and Victorians loved to use flowers on clothing for hidden messages (for instance, the Nasturtium was known for "patriotism" and was an often-seen message during war.) I'm fairly certain there is a hidden message here if you can figure it out. Unlined as was most of the gowns of this era. This is a very special gown.


The overall fabric and embroidery are strong, with only a few tiny holes on one sleeve, a few tiny vintage mends near a few closures, some long, thin grayish "dust" lines (possibly from being packed away for a long time.) in a few areas on the skirt. (The gown has not been cleaned.) There is a strip of finer silk on the back hook-eye area used as a modesty placket, and it is splitting- does not affect anything else. Minor cream silk satin tonal variations to candlelight in a few areas (the silk embroidery is perfect everywhere) but the silk is generally soft and healthy. One underarm has some patches from some minor holes only seen when the sleeve is lifted, and it's possible a sleeve panel might have been replaced, but it may not have too... hard to tell for sure. A very small wear spot on upper sleeve panel. There's dusty dirt along the Val lace and hem. A few small, faint organic based spots. All this is so minor to the grandeur of this very fine gown, the beauty is all you see when holding it- the minor little things slips into the background. This would be heavenly in a museum or fine collection. Even with the condition being as great as it is, I do not recommend wearing items this ancient, but I will give you the measurements. The very finest of rare-to-find Regency ballgowns!

This item is sold and no longer available.

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16 size RARE in gown Ball English style AUSTIN JANE Regency Silk EMBROIDERED 1790-1810 Authentic
16 size RARE in gown Ball English style AUSTIN JANE Regency Silk EMBROIDERED 1790-1810 Authentic

Estimated Current size Approx.:

Unsure about size? Go to the page
SizeShoulders BustHipEstimated Length from top of shoulder tip to bottom of hemEstimated Wear-abilityEstimated Underarm conditionMaker's Tags/ MarksEstimated condition ratingEstimated overall condition scale of 1-10
X-Large (16)17."41"40."53"Not recommended per age.-One underarm has patches and other has some darkening.None.Excellent.8.5

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This item is sold and no longer available.

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