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Coif

1620-1640 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This coif is embroidered in coloured silks, embellished with precious metal threads and spangles (sequins). The pattern of scrolling stems bearing flowers and fruits is typical of embroidery design in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Until the end of the 17th century the coif was informal headwear for women. Plain linen versions were worn by the working-class. Middle-class and aristocratic women wore elaborately decorated coifs. It would have been worn by itself indoors, or with a hat on top in public. In Western Europe it was customary for both men and women to cover their heads in public up until the 1960s. A hat was an essential part of respectable dress and, from a health perspective, head coverings were considered necessary to protect against chills and disease.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen, silk thread, silver, silver-gilt; hand-embroidered
Brief Description
Woman's coif of linen, 1620-1640, British; embroidered with coloured silks & metal thread in a floral design
Physical Description
A linen coif embroidered with silk thread in shades of blue, green, pink, red and yellow in stem and detached needlepoint filling stitches, and silver and silver-gilt threads in plaited braid stitch and couching. The pattern comprises silver-gilt scrolling stems bearing borage, carnation, roses, honesuckle, grapes, columbine, fox-glove, pansies, pomegranate, strawberries and rosehips; the ground powdered with silver spangles. The coif has cheek pieces and a widow's peak. The front and top edges are worked with buttonhole stitch in red silk. The top seam, crown gathers and lower casing have been unpicked at a later date.
Dimensions
  • Overall, approx width: 45.8cm
  • Overall, approx length: 23.9cm
Style
Gallery Label
Woman's coif. (Not made up) English; first quarter 17th century. Linen embroidered with silver-gilt and silver thread and silks: detachde buttonhole, spiral trellis, stem, chain and composite stitches with spangles. Gievn by Mrs. P. Sanguinetti.
Credit line
Given by Mrs P. Sanguinetti
Subjects depicted
Summary
This coif is embroidered in coloured silks, embellished with precious metal threads and spangles (sequins). The pattern of scrolling stems bearing flowers and fruits is typical of embroidery design in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.



Until the end of the 17th century the coif was informal headwear for women. Plain linen versions were worn by the working-class. Middle-class and aristocratic women wore elaborately decorated coifs. It would have been worn by itself indoors, or with a hat on top in public. In Western Europe it was customary for both men and women to cover their heads in public up until the 1960s. A hat was an essential part of respectable dress and, from a health perspective, head coverings were considered necessary to protect against chills and disease.
Collection
Accession Number
T.177-1958

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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