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  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1860-1865 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, velvet ribbon, cotton, canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs F Nelson-Smith

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Shades of purple and mauve became very fashionable in the 1860s in the United Kingdom following the discovery of a reliable synthetic dye of this colour by William Perkin in 1856.

He had been trying to find a cure for the disease malaria, and was cleaning the flask he had used for an experiment on aniline when he noticed that the residue combined with alcohol to make a purple coloured liquid. This liquid was very effective as a textile dye, which he patented, and set up a factory to produce at Greenford in Middlesex in 1857. The new shade was called mauve, from the French word for the mallow plant which has purple/ mauve flowers. Queen Victoria seems to have boosted its popularity by appearing in a mauve dress in 1862.

Physical description

Girl's dress of mauve silk with a narrow white stripe in the weave, the bodice and sleeves lined with white cotton and the hem with undyed canvas. The bodice has a square neck and puffed sleeves and is gauged just above the waist at front and back; the skirt is pleated into the waist and has two patch pockets at the front. The hem is finished with a double frill of self fabric; the neck, sleeves, pockets and frills are edged with narrow black velvet ribbon. The garment fastens at the back of the bodice with a black silk loop and matching covered button, and with four hooks and eyes.

Place of Origin

England (probably, made)


1860-1865 (made)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silk, velvet ribbon, cotton, canvas


Length: 77 cm

Object history note

RF 79/ 335

Descriptive line

Dress for a girl; mauve and white striped silk trimmed with black velvet ribbon; probably English, 1860-1865


Silk (textile); Velvet ribbon; Cotton (textile); Canvas




Children's clothes; Children & Childhood


Museum of Childhood

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