The Hingham Historical Society holds a vast collection of period clothing. I was given permission to visit the climate controlled “closet”. Many of the pieces hanging in the closet were form the 1800’s. Wow, I was a kid in a candy shop! Yes, loud squeals of delight escaped my mouth. Having reenacted in a Civil War Artillery Battery over the last five years, I was even more excited. (Yes, you got that right, I dress in reproduction clothing and live in a reproduction tent on several summer weekends to reenact a Civil War encampment.)
The first piece I pulled after getting lost in the closet for a good hour was a mourning skirt. Black silk with ribbon embellishments. Hand stitching galore!!! It was well in tact with a petty coat attached. Two rows of ribbon delicately folded to create an intricate embellishment with a time taking scallop edge that had a tape sewn across the bottom. To die for. I think I may have tried to try it on, but I kept my self in check and drooled at all the hand stitching and imagined the history and “fly on the wall” moments this garment witnessed.
The second garment was a cape dated 1815. Some one took great care with this possession. Hand quilted with embellishments everywhere. Hand shirred ribbon and a tassel closer that made a statement. I could envision myself in a horse and buggy going to church services and having this cape to keep me warm and fashionable.
Another rare find was a pair of black satin shoes. The owners name was inked on the inside. Helen C. Lough, 1860. A small heal with approximately fourteen button holes to lace through. The button holes were finished by hand tacking. They are a work of art in themselves. Imagine the patience needed to lace up those shoes. Arch support was unheard of and the shoes are very narrow. Centuries of dealing with pain to be fashionable. Although a shoe factory did exist in Hingham, it is not known if the shoes come from the local factory, but their owner was a Hingham resident.
Also, part of the collection is a Civil War coat sack coat worn by Hingham resident Luring Hersey Cushing. It features a wool lining and period buttons. Luring came back from the Civil War and made toys for children that are also on exhibit in the galleries.
More news of goodies I saw in Hngham next week!