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Man's Dressing Robe

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Notice the skirt

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Norwich Pattern Book

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Norwich Worsted Textiles 18th c

In the collection of the Six family in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam there is a morning gown or sjamberlouk of glazed woollen damask patterned with pineapples (3)(10).

Many of the skirts which have survived in Dutch museums were given by folk dance groups who had preserved these traditional examples of costume and probably wore them for performance.

The Nordiska Museum in Stockholm has a sample book of Norwich woven woollen cloth and 150 garments woven from Norwich woven stuffs. These include women’s bodices, fine men’s waistcoats, shirts, one apron and a cape. Many of these belonged to farmer’s wives. They demonstrate a wide variety of quality: wool damask, striped and flowered calimancoes and taborets or diamonds from the last decades of the eighteenth century. Some were worn as wedding clothes. Berit Eldvik, curator of costume, Nordiska Museum says that imports of worsteds were forbidden by Sweden during the eighteenth century and she understands the fabric was smuggled in from Norway, Denmark and perhaps Holland.

In Margaret Swain’s 1972 article Nightgown into Dressing Gown for Costume Journal there is a nightgown illustrated from The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Described as a man’s blue woollen damask nightgown, lined with fine hard tartan, 18th century. Could this also be made from Norwich wool?

Very few examples of Norwich worsted wool skirts or garments exist in museums in the United Kingdom, so one can only assume that this production was primarily for the export trade. Norwich Museum has pattern books, a single damask and six striped calimanco skirts, recently purchased. The V & A has two sample books of the Norwich manufacturer John Kelly, one of dress fabrics, the other of furnishing wools, detailing the costs of production of the various worsteds (11). Although the furnishing book was for the Portuguese market, yellow stripe calamancoes in the book bear a striking resemblance to the weave above. (4)(12)

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