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Cloth and Costume, 1750-1800: Cumberland…

Cloth and Costume, 1750-1800: Cumberland County, Pennsylvania (Heritage…

by Tandy Hersh, Charles Hersh

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tandy Hershprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hersh, Charlesmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0963892320, Hardcover)

This book tells the story of how the people who settled Cumberland County, Pennsylvania dressed and how they furnished their homes with textiles. Analysis of all 1220 estate inventories filed in the county from 1750 until 1800, together with wills, deeds, administrative papers, tax lists, indictments, newspapers and manuscripts, give rich detail about men's and women's clothing, bed "furniture" and table linen during these fifty years.

Many utilitarian needs for textiles were supplied by local "manufacture". Farmers produced flax, hemp and wool fibers. Household spinners took their yarns to weavers who produced the much needed cloth yardage. Household seamstresses or tailors and milliners in the towns custom-made the clothing. However, from the County's beginning many small storekeepers brought a side variety of goods from Philadelphia.

Fashion in clothes and style in the household demanded that the materials offered in Philadelphia and Baltimore be available in the county even though it was on the frontier. Contrasts abound: while one townsman slept in a "blue painted bedstead" with a set of "crimson bed curtains", a farm hand slept on a "tow chaff tick" on the floor; and while one person wore a "fine linen ruffled shirt" another wore a linen hunting shirt "dyed with maple bark". A runaway servant wore his master's new bottle-green great coat which had a yellow cape and red silk buttons.

The terminology of the period is used for all textiles, weaving equipment, clothing and accessories. The contributions of fullers, dyers, tailors, mantua makers, hatters, stocking makers, tanners, breeches makers and shoemakers are described. The appendices list over 100 named varieties of cloth found in inventories or stores and identify types and colors of cloth found in inventories or stores and identify types and colors of cloth used for men's coats, waistcoats and breeches; and for women's gowns and petticoats.

Eighteenth century Cumberland County with thirty-three widespread townships and three towns in an exceptional context for analysis of the different ways material objects were used in everyday life. Records of its storekeepers reveal how they functioned in colonial commerce and within the community. Household functions such as heating, cooking, eating and sleeping are used to compare simple farms with fashionable homes. "Wardrobes" of people in different situations are compared. Altogether this work provides an interesting portrayal of a substantial part of the structure of life in Cumberland County at a critical time in our nation's history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:02 -0400)

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