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Cape

  • Place of origin:

    UK (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1890 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Rabbit fur and satin

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Barbara Roughwood

  • Museum number:

    MISC.1019-1992

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Fur garments were among the earliest cold weather clothes, particularly in areas with severe winters, such as northern Europe. They were expensive to buy, and those who could not quite afford such items for themselves or their children would buy garments trimmed with fur, or perhaps a fur hat or gloves. Wool was also worn for warmth, and could be afforded by many more people, especially when it became possible to buy woollen yarn to knit clothes at home. Leather was probably the earliest form of waterproof fabric, and was often worn by people working out of doors; the mackintosh (waterproof coat), was patented in 1823, but early examples were often heavy and sometimes became smelly. Poor people simply wrapped themselves in as many garments as they could, sometimes padded with old newspaper, but still felt the cold: their few clothes were often thin and fitted badly.

Physical description

Little girl's white rabbit fur cape lined with quilted and wadded ivory satin. The cape is flared from the shoulders, has a rounded neck, and fastened at the front with hooks (originally with loops or bars) and tasselled ivory cords looped in a figure of eight at the top.

Although said to have been acquired by Hilda Antonietti at the age of 4, it is likely that she would have continued to wear the cape for some years because of its ease of fit, and that her daughter and neice could similarly have worn it for a number of years.

Place of Origin

UK (made)

Date

ca. 1890 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Rabbit fur and satin

Dimensions

Length: 61.6 cm centre back, Length: 24¼ in centre back

Object history note

The cape belonged to Gilda (later Hilda) Antonietti (born 13 July 1886), and is said to have been given to her at the age of 4. She was the third child of Cavaliere Daniele Antonetti, an Italian impresario, and his English wife Grace (neé Bolton). Antonetti presented seasons of Italian opera in Santiago, Chile between 1882 and 1889, and Gilda was born there, but when his contract ended, he brought the family to England (where they initially stayed with his father-in law in Surbiton), arriving in January 1890. Gilda became known as Hilda once she arrived in England, and at the age of 14 became a professional actress under the name Hilda Anthony, making her debut as the Red Knight in a revival of the stage version of 'Alice in Wonderland' at the Vaudeville Theatre, London on 26 December 1900. She married Owen Roughwood and had a daughter Barbara (the donor): the cape was later said to have been worn by Barbara and her cousin Jessica Morton (the daughter of Hilda's younger sister Olga).

Descriptive line

Girl's cape of white rabbit fur lined with quilted and wadded satin; made in the UK, ca. 1890

Materials

Fur (rabbit); Satin

Techniques

Stitching; Quilting

Categories

Children's clothes; Children & Childhood; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Museum of Childhood

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