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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1750-1759 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, cotton, pewter; hand-woven fustian, hand-sewn, engine-turned

  • Credit Line:

    Given by James Potter, Esq., Master-Tailor of Derby

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Plain pewter buttons with a simple, machine-engraved design adorn this modest 1750s coat made of fustian (a fabric composed of a linen warp and cotton weft). The engraving process used on the button was known as engine turning, by which the motif was incised with a pattern disc, called a rosette, attached to a lathe. Repeating the engraving in concentric circles on these buttons gave depth and texture to the trefoil pattern. Engine turning was used for ivory and boxwood in the 17th century, and by the 18th century it was a popular method of decoration for metals, including buttons and silver boxes.

This humble coat is thought to have been made for a bridegroom. It is well worn and was clearly a much-used garment for years after the event, illustrating the restrained tastes and economical habits of the English middle class in the 18th century.

Physical description

A man's coat of tan fustian twill. It has a round neckline with a standing collar (3.7 cm). The two-piece, shaped sleeves fit moderately closely, ending above the wrist with a round closed cuff (13 cm at top, 14.5 cm at bottom). The coat fronts curve from neck to chest and continue straight to the hem. It is fitted to the torso, with wide skirts below the hip, arranged in one pleat at the front and one at the back (11 cm deep). At the centre back opening of the skirts, the left back overlaps the right back. There is a v-shaped pocket flap at hip level on each coat front. The pockets are lined with a different weave and darker brown fustian; the rest of the coat with unbleached linen. The front edges are interlined with buckram. Ten flat pewter buttons, engine-turned in a trefoil pattern, correspond to 10 buttonholes on the left. There is a pewter button a the top of the pleats and another holding front and back together above the hem (missing on the left side), on each side. Two more buttons are sewn to the back pleat (one missing on the right side, both on the left).

The lining of the collar has been removed.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1750-1759 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, cotton, pewter; hand-woven fustian, hand-sewn, engine-turned


Length: 96.0 cm collar to hem at centre front approx, Circumference: 105.5 cm chest under armholes approx

Object history note

This coat is said to have been the wedding coat of an ancestor of the donor, James Potter Esquire (who was the Master Tailor of Derby). The ancestor, who lived at Quarndon near Derby, is described as James Potter's great-uncle's grandfather.

Descriptive line

A man's coat, 1750s, British; Tan fustian twill, incised pewter buttons

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Hart, Avril and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries, London: V&A Publications, 1998, p. 118


Fustian; Linen (material); Pewter; Buckram


Hand weaving; Hand sewing; Engine turning; Engine turning


Textiles; Marriage; Europeana Fashion Project; Men's clothes

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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