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  • Place of origin:

    England (possibly, made)
    Germany (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1890 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton twill, machine-made cotton lace, lined with cotton twill, boned and metal

  • Credit Line:

    Given by M. Yanovsky

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Brown cotton twill corset with the bones covered with a darker cotton twill, black fabric covered busks and a trimming of black machine-made cotton lace. Lined with white cotton twill and the top and bottom are bound with reddish brown tape. The corset is made in two parts.

The front fastens with a busk and the backs are provided with metal eyelets for a lace. The corset is hip length, curving to a rounded point in the front and less deeply at the back. The bones are close-set and splayed out at the bust and hips, and at the tops are trimmed with fancy stitching in cream. There is a band of dark brown cording at the top, covering the breasts. At the waist there is a V-shaped band in darker brown stitching. The corset is machine-stitched. With metal fastenings.

Place of Origin

England (possibly, made)
Germany (possibly, made)


ca. 1890 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cotton twill, machine-made cotton lace, lined with cotton twill, boned and metal

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed in pencil, attached to the lining on the left side of the back on a red on white printed label.


Circumference: 71 cm bust, Circumference: 48 cm waist, Circumference: 71 cm hip, Height: 41 cm front, Height: 37.5 cm back

Object history note

John Goodwin, a descendant of Myer Yanovksy, owns Yanovsky's naturalisation certificate, dated 6 June 1904. According to Goodwin, Yanovsky would have been 52. The document states that he was a Russian subject, having been born at Yanova in Koons. Goodwin believes Yanovsky arrived in London around 1880. According to Ancestry, Yanovsky was born in about 1849 and died in September 1920 aged 71. His registration district was Whitechapel

Descriptive line

Brown cotton twill corset, possibly made in England or Germany, ca. 1890

Labels and date

During the 1890s, it was fashionable to be voluptuous at the bosom and hips, but small at the waist. Tight corsets aided this by displacing flesh from the waist to these areas.

This corset has one of the smallest waist measurements in the collection of the V&A. Most surviving corsets show a generous or 'normal' waist measurement, suggesting that creating the right shape, not size, was the main purpose of corsetry.

Britain or Germany, about 1890
Cotton coutille with machine lace, whalebone, metal eyelets, and steel; lined with cotton twill
Given by the family of Myer Yanovsky
V&A: T.90&A-1984 [2013-2015]
Tight lacing

During the 1890s it was fashionable to have a small waist and a full bosom and hips. When this corset is laced tightly its waist measures just under 48 centimetres. Today the UK standard size 12 waist measures 71 centimetres.

The 'belt' of dark brown cotton, which wraps the waist, was designed to reduce the risk of the whalebones breaking at this notorious stress point.

Germany or Britain, about 1890
Cotton, whalebone (baleen), metal busk and machine-made cotton lace trimming
V&A: T.90&A-1984
Given by the family of Myer Yanovsky [16/04/2016-12/03/2017]


Cotton twill; Machine-made lace; Whalebone; Metal; Material


Textiles; Women's clothes; Fashion; Underwear; Lace; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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