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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1620-1640 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, silk thread, silver, silver-gilt; hand-embroidered

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs P. Sanguinetti

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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.

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.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1620-1640 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, silk thread, silver, silver-gilt; hand-embroidered


Width: 45.8 cm overall, approx, Length: 23.9 cm overall, approx

Descriptive line

Woman's coif of linen, 1620-1640, British; embroidered with coloured silks & metal thread in a floral design

Labels and date

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. []


Linen; Silk; Silver



Subjects depicted

Pansy; Carnation; Honeysuckle; Foxglove; Borage; Roses; Cherry; Grapes; Pomegranate; Columbine


Fashion; Clothing; Hats & headwear; Embroidery; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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