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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1595-1615 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, silk, whalebone, card, wire, and linen thread, hand-sewn

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

During the early 17th century, formal neckwear such as ruffs and starched collars needed support. Flat collars and the wide circles of gathered linen that made up ruffs had to be held up at the back of the neck in order to frame the face properly. Such supports were called by a range of different names: ‘supportasse’ (a French term), underpropper, pickadil or rebato (an Italian name). A variety of materials were used to make such supports; this example is made of linen reinforced with whalebone, card and wire. A close analysis of this supporter determined that it was once stuffed with straw to create a slightly curved surface. This would have made a linen band worn on top fall gracefully from the neck of the wearer. The supporter is open in front, probably intended for a woman’s low-necked gown or bodice.

Physical description

An open supporter made in two layers. Top layer is two pieces of blue linen stitched and reinforced with baleen radiating from neck to outer edge, which is bound with pale yellow silk grosgrain ribbon. Bottom layer of blue linen is reinforced with card and wire along the outer edge. Both layers attached and bound at neck with a strip of blue linen, with extends at front edges to form ties.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1595-1615 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, silk, whalebone, card, wire, and linen thread, hand-sewn


Width: 41.0 cm, Depth: 26.0 cm, Height: 0.4 cm

Object history note

Purchased as part of a collection of mainly early 17th century men's garments, from H Fetherstonhaugh Frampton, Esq. for £150 in 1910. According to the registered files, he said they came from a farmhouse at Whaddon Dorsetshire and had been given to his grandmother.

Historical context note

One of a variety of different types of support for starched ruffs and bands in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. These were tied or secured to gowns at the neck and the linen neckwear sat on top.

Descriptive line

Woman's supporter, 1595-1615, English; blue linen with whalebone and wire

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

Costigliolo, Luca, 'Linen Supporter', in North, Susan and Jenny Tiramani, eds, Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns, vol.2, London: V&A Publishing, 2012, pp.100-107


Linen (material); Baleen; Card; Wire; Linen thread; Ribbon, silk


Hand sewing


Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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