Costume History Collection

The Costume History Collection is comprised of four books that illustrate aspects of dress from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century. Topics covered include descriptions of widely used fabrics, lists of clothing appropriate for a trousseau, hand-colored fashion plates from a Parisian women's magazine, color drawings of clothing of peoples of Persia, and a pattern diagram. The original illustrations can be found in our Special Collections.

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The Books

Parisian Fashion, 1827 - 1832 in Color Plates.

Paris: Chez Marcilly, 1828-1832.

This scrapbook compiles 51 hand-colored lithographs of Parisian fashion from Le Conseiller des Grâces, a women's journal. The lithographic plates of Le Conseiller are known to be copied from copper engravings that originally appears in the Journal de Dames et des Modes and Petit Courrier des Dames [1], two popular French women's journals from the first half of the nineteenth-century. 

Caption descriptions appear at the base of each plate. These leaves were collected from several volumes of this journal between 1828 and 1832, then hinged into a half-calf and marbled paper journal. Text in French. Waldo Library, Special Collections and Rare Book Room, GT 887 .P28 1827.

In the case of Parisian Fashion, 1827 - 1832 in Color Plates, the cover, end papers, and book mark are as charming as the fashion plates. The paper journal is covered in half-calf and marbled paper with marbled end papers.

  • Journal cover

  • Marbled end papers

  • Paper hinges holding plates into the journal

  • Linen book mark

Excerpt from the caption on Plate 7:

Chapeau de velours plain orné d'aigrelle et de rubans de gaze. (Plain velvet hat decorated with tufts of heron feathers and gauze ribbons.)

Book 2

A Residence of Eight Years in Persia, Among the Nestorian Christians: with Notices of the Muhammedans.

Perkins, Justin. Andover: Allen, Morrill & Wardwell, 1843.

Residence of Eight Years in Persia is the published diary of Justin Perkins, a Presbyterian minister from Massachusetts who spent eight years as a missionary to the Assyrian Church of the East.  In this work, Perkins describes his travels throughout the Persian region, geography, living conditions, local customs, and culture of the Middle East as well as his contact with the general populace, clerics, and rulers.  The text includes his candid observations and interpretations of this region of the world, giving not only insight into the Middle East but also the thoughts and beliefs of a nineteenth-century American protestant missionary. This volume contains 27 colored plates of costume and events and maps. 

Text in English. Waldo Library, Special Collections and Rare Book Room, DS 258 .P4 1843

Excerpts from Chapter XVI, Journal March – July 1836, p. 266

“April 11 – visiting Gĕog-tapá – As we approached the village, our attention was arrested by hundreds of children and youth of both sexes…engaged in dancing on the bare ground.  This is a very favorite amusement, among the Nestorians, during their festivals…in a measured kind of jump, usually in connexion with the harsh rattle and screech of rude drums and clarionets, and the gingling of the strings of coarse metal ornaments with which the girls on such occasions are heavily loaded.”

p. 268 On attending the wedding of Muhammedan son of a khan

“As we sat among the high Persian dignitaries – they, easy and graceful in their loose flowing robes…they so fluent, blowing and profuse in their compliments…”

Book 3

Persia: Containing a Description of the Country with an Account of Its Government, Laws, and Religion, and of the Character, Manners and Customs, Arts, Amusements, etc. of Its Inhabitants.

Shoberl, Frederic. Philadelphia: Grigg & Elliot, 1845.

Frederic Shoberl was a nineteenth-century English journalist and editor who published several travelogs during his career. Persiacontains his observations on the political and cultural life of Persia at a time when the populace of the English-speaking world had limited access to travel. His observations of garments not only discuss the shape and cut of garments, but the socially dictated use of color and fabric as well. This book includes twelve hand-colored engraved plates depicting residents of modern Iran in costumes of varied status. 

Text in English. Zhang Legacy Collections Center, DS 258 .S55 1845

Excerpt from Chapter VI, Costume of the Persians, p. 111:

“The garments composing the dress of the Persians are the following:

  1. The zeer djameh, a species of very wide trowsers, made of cotton cloth or slim, which reach down to the ankles, and are tied at the waist in the front.
  2. The peerahun, or shirt, of silk, comes over the trowsers, and falls a little below the hips. It is shaped at top like a woman’s chemise, having no collar, and is fastened by means of two buttons over the left shoulder.”

Book 4

L’Art de la Lingere.

Garsault, François A. de. Paris: De L’imprimerie L.F. Delatour, 1771.

This is a beautiful hand-bound folio-sized, letterpress book made of handmade paper. It contains names, origins, and definitions of popular eighteenth-century fabrics and lace. It also presents lists of garments needed for the trousseau, layette, and children’s wardrobe; provides lengths of fabric required for garments; and hand- engraved depictions of French fabric shops and garment pattern layouts.

Text in French. Waldo Library, Special Collections and Rare Book Room, TT670 .G37 1711

Excerpt from p. 4:

“Toiles de Line, Chanvre, Coton, & Dentelles.

Le Linge en general étant le meuble principal des Nations, Fes manfactures se font mulipliées à proportion de besoins & meme duluxe; le tableau qu’on en va donner contients les Toiles & autre Linge qui se débitent en France, leur larger, & led Pays & Provinces où ils se fabriquent.


Les frises ou toiles de Hollande sont de lin, blanches: ells ont ordinairement de large trios & deux doigts.


Les Hollandilles se font en Silésie; ells font de lin, blanches: ells ont de large trios quarts.”

Collection Details

  • Collection details Our LUNA Imaging database system is used to display the images in this collection. Searching of the metadata associated with each of the images is possible along with the capability to easily zoom into selected details of each item. A summary of the metadata is available by mousing over items in the thumbnail view. After selecting an image for viewing in workspace view details can be zoomed in on using the mouse scroll wheel or zoom tool available towards the bottom of the image. The complete metadata for each item can be seen on the left side of the image in the workspace view.

  • Digital specifications The images in this collection were originally captured at approximately 800 pixels per inch with a Hasselblad H2 camera with a CF39MS digital back and HC Macro 4/120mm lens. The image capture process included processing the RAW images with Hasselblad Phocus software for proper exposure, white balance and exporting to the TIFF file format. The archival version of the images were later processed in Adobe Photoshop to include the proper ICC color profile, created during color calibration of the camera, and conversion to the TIFF files used to upload the images into the LUNA image database. The upload process includes conversion of these files to JPEG and JPEG2000 iterations used for display of the images.

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