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Bonnet

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1830-1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Braided straw with net, satin, silk and glazed cotton

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss R. Taylor

  • Museum number:

    T.78-1963

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

When this bonnet was made, braided straw for the hat trade in the United Kingdom was often the product of child labour. In a report to the Children's Employment Commission in 1842, one contributor, Major J G Burns noted that in areas where it was concentrated, such as Luton and Bedford, straw braiding could be an absolute bar to a child getting any education at all, "because children as young as three can learn the craft, and their parents are hard to convince that paying for their schooling is necessary when they can earn a living instead". Young children were in any case preferred by some employers as being not only cheaper to employ, but sometimes easier to teach handwork techniques to since their fingers were more pliant.

The evidence submitted to the Children's Employment Commission was gathered by asking the children and some adults (in some cases those whose children worked in the same place as they did themselves) a standard set of questions; they afterwards signed their name, or made their mark if unable to sign. Many of the children had received some education: typically they could read but either couldn't write, or couldn't write fluently; occasionally (but much more rarely) they could write but not read, which in some cases may have been indicative of undetected problems with eyesight or health.

Physical description

Girl's bonnet of undyed braided straw. This in an example of pressed 'brilliant' effect wheat straw, which is sewn by hand. The bonnet has a conical crown flaring into a slightly upturned brim. The crown is half lined with glazed cotton, and the brim is lined with pleated net over white satin. The bonnet fastens beneath the chin with tying strings of white silk.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1830-1840 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Braided straw with net, satin, silk and glazed cotton

Descriptive line

Poke bonnet of braided straw for a girl, made in England, 1830-40

Materials

Straw; Net; Satin; Silk; Glazed cotton

Techniques

Braiding; Stitching

Categories

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

Collection

Museum of Childhood

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