A Uniquely Placed Bonnet


“House-keeper Ann” Private Collection – Used with permission http://www.ssdaggers.com/HG/WomenWork/housekeeperann2.jpeg

There are very few mid-nineteenth century photographs of women clearly wearing winter hoods. “House-keeper Ann” is particularly unique. The subject isn’t actually wearing the winter hood. Yet, she has it displayed nicely for us to see.

The circa 1864 image shows Ann surrounded by her trade – broom, dust pan, duster, rag, opened oil lamp and jug. Some have noted her clothing as that of reform dress. Others have noted her clothing as shortened for work. (comments on Pinterest pins) She appears to have a cloth or kerchief wrapped around her head, not tightly but not loosely either. About her neck is a plaid, almost scarf like, item. A second set of shoes are in front of her.

The hood is draped upon a standing broom, face down with the handle of the broom hooking the tip of the crown. Here we can rotate and zoom in for a closer look at this hood:


The upper left shows the hood simple rotated from the original image. The upper right shows the hood slightly adjusted to show what the hood may look like if gravity was not pulling against the broom. The lower left is an adjustment of color for observation. The lower right is a further zoom looking at the bavolet.

We see the bonnet is a wadded bonnet. Seven wadded channels run over the brim. Between the 5th and 6th channels from the front, we see this hood may be corded in between the wadded channels. The back channel, the seventh is smaller, nearly half the size of the previous channels. The front most channel appear to possibly have additional shaping. Many original wadded hoods will have the very front of the brim as a ruffle instead of a wadded channel. I do not believe this is a ruffle. It is possibly a less full channel or a channel that has compacted over time.

As the tip is draped over the broom, but does not show the handle distinctly, I surmise there is some wadding between the layers. Two lines closest to us, suggest there may be some quilting in this area as well. The bavolet does not appear to be very full. The front does curve up to the cheek area. The length is moderate. I would estimate it to be 3.5 inches to maybe 4.5 inches long in the back. There is what may be an ornamental lace or ribbon on this bavolet as well. I find this aspect to be interesting and further my speculation on whether the the bonnet belongs to Ann or to Ann’s employer.


 “Hoods or Caleches, made of sating or silk, are now generally worn by ladies as a head covering, in going or returning from parties or the opera, instead of the worsted scarfs so much in use during the last season. These hoods are wadded and quilted, and are so light that on being thrown over the head, they do not in the least disarrange the head-dress. Some are entirely covered with lace, which hangs down in front and at the sides, in the manner of a veil. These are equally comfortable and beautiful for a party hood.” (Graham’s Illustrated Magazine, 1856)

Published in: on January 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm  Comments (1)  

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. It does look to me that she is wearing trousers tucked into boots . . . typical reform clothing and very cool.

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