Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Civil War era

The Civil War era was a period of  terrible losses on both sides of the war.  The result was one that  granted freedom to those who had been enslaved for so long and must have stopped believing it would ever be theirs.  For that I am grateful.  But for the loss of lives on both sides of this war, I hurt for those who lost their kin. I doubt any family was left whole after it.

I am very interested in the study of that period and admire the workmanship of items made by the ordinary people who lived then. The workmanship was beyond anything seen today.I am amazed so much is still here from the time.  I feel almost  reverent whenever I pick up something with that kind of age on it.

And of course one of my favorite movies ever made is Gone with the Wind. There were others that portrayed that time in history but that one has been tested and still can stand on it's own in Hollywood.

As for the style, well I can imagine wearing one of the costumes shown in the old Godey prints. They certainly looked great all dressed up in these costumes. Of course they did not generally own the extent of wardrobe  we do today.  I am sure the common woman possessed only a few good dresses. Sometimes only 2: one for mourning and one for not.
With the long periods of mourning which was customary then, one could almost be constantly in mourning with a large family and the deaths that occurred without the medical care that came with time. 
Old black mourning dress:

But would I have wanted to lace up and cinch up enough to wear one of the wonderful dresses? I doubt it. Or get into one of these crinolines? Very difficult to get done all we do today wearing something like this.

Does the finished product make it worth it though???  Not sure of that.
I worked as a docent for the Folk Festival for years and I shed that hoop really fast.  On our hot,  humid Spring days when it is held  you decide what you really need.

 At left is a period dressed docent from our Folk Life Festival last year.

And below a group of the same. 

Below an actual 1860 era dress in white. Imagine it with the crinolines beneath it. 
Above are white ladies boots and overnight bag and in the next picture are some old white cotton nightgowns and camisoles from the period. Did they own any other color then?  Probably not since this is an item that would have needed washing every  laundry day.

Below is a wonderful old Civil War era perfume bottle. The owner who is in her 80's brought it to me
to sell.  It was her grandmother's.  She had no one to leave it to. It is sterling on the end caps which open.
Inside one end she kept her perfume and inside the other she kept brandy.  Although most say it was used for smelling salts, this little lady did not need smelling salts, she had her brandy to bring her around if need be. I have 2 others that are similar;  one the same ruby red as this one, another  in green   This is one item I would love to keep and not sell. They speak to me.

Next are  2 different mourning necklaces.  One is made of pot metal.  All  were worn with mourning dress.          Close-up of one.                     

And finally a beautiful item also from the era:  A flue cover.  Hand painted and haunting.  Those he left behind?
I wonder if  he returned.

 I have sold many items here in the store that were from that time.  I have shown before the 1850's ball gown that I own.  I almost sold it once then changed my mind. It is mainly for display.  If I ever find someone who would love it as much as I then I will sell it.

I wanted to show you items from the era that was one of the worst in American history. The cause was a just one.  I had family members fighting for the Blue and some for the Gray. It was a terrible time in our history but it had to be. Did it teach us anything?  I hope so. For those young lives lost, I really hope so.

  " I saw two clouds at morning,
      Tinged bu the morning sun,
   And in the dawn they floated on
     And mingled into one;
   I thought that morning cloud was blest,
     It moved so sweetly to the west,
   Such be your gentle motion,
     Till life's last pulse shall beat,
   And you float on in joy to meet
     A calmer sea, where storms shall cease--
   A purer sky, where all is peace."
c 1884 Seven Hundred Album Verses

I hope you enjoy old things as much as I do.
Please do not copy my pictures.  Many are family items and part of our lives and past.

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