Helen Bancroft Hay's cameo-button striped dress, Charlestown, MA., ca. 1860

Contributed by Maine Historical Society

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Helen Bancroft Hay's bright moss green and dark blue silk striped dress features pagoda sleeves, which are wide at the wrist, and attached small cape called a pelerine which is trimmed with wide silk fringe, as well as front closure with ten small circular metal shanked buttons set with miniature cameos. They are reflective of the 1860's appreciation for cameo jewelry.

The pagoda sleeves are lined in white silk, and the skirt is lined in brown cotton with wool hem binding. The bodice shows signs of having been let out at the side seams, and a modesty panel of matching fabric inserted at the center front. The item was also lengthened at some point.Stylistically, the dress straddles the 1850s and 1860s fashion eras.

The dress was donated to Maine Historical Society in 1931 along with a matching lava brooch said to have been worn with the dress by Helen Bancroft Hay (1834-1900). Raised in Portland, Helen Bancroft Hay largely lived in Massachusetts, returning to Portland before death in 1900.

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About This Item

  • Title: Helen Bancroft Hay's cameo-button striped dress, Charlestown, MA., ca. 1860
  • Creation Date: circa 1860
  • Subject Date: circa 1860
  • Location: Portland , Cumberland County, ME
  • Media: silk, cotton, metal, glass, baleen, wool
  • Dimensions: 147.3 cm x 177.8 cm
  • Local Code: A86-30
  • Collection: Costume collection
  • Object Type: Physical Object

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For more information about this item, contact:

Maine Historical Society
485 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-1822 x230

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