Coif thumbnail 1
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Coif

1600-1625 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This coif is a fine example of blackwork, a style of needlework popular in England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was worked with a single colour of silk, usually black, but also blue, red or, as in this coif, green on linen. Like other embroidered dress accessories, the needlework on this coif is highlighted with embroidery and spangles in precious metal threads.

Many coifs in the collection are now flat. They were either never sewn up or later unpicked so that they could be framed flat to show off the embroidery, before they were acquired by the V&A. This coif shows how the seam at the top and gathers at the crown were originally finished.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Embroidered linen with silks and silver gilt thread, spangles, bobbin lace.
Brief Description
Woman's coif, England, 1600-1625; Linen with green silk, metal thread embroidery & spangles
Physical Description
Coif of embroidered linen with green silk in chain stitch and silver-gilt thread in plaited braid stitch in a pattern of abstract stems and leaves,and powdered with silver spangles. The front edges are embroidered with buttonhole stitch. The bottom edge is turned and hemmed to create a casing. The original closure at the top remains with fagotted seam in green silk. The crown is tightly gathered, and the gathers are held with a cross of insertion bars in linen thread. There is no widow's peak. The cheek pieces are shaped and edged with linen bobbin lace. The coif is unlined.



The oblong linen is folded in half and with two corners turned under to form angular check pieces. The join along the crown worked with an insertion stitch for the first 3.5 inches (9 cm) and then tightly gathered and the resulting small open roundel secured with linked bars of linen thread. The neck edge is turned in and hemmed.



Continuous pattern of coiling stems linked horizontally and diagonally, each coil contains a stylised sprig of berries.
Dimensions
  • Height: 21cm (approx.)
  • Width: 22.5cm (approx.)
  • Lace length: 0.875in
  • Lace length: 2cm
Style
Credit line
Given by Mr and Mrs I. F. C. Kingsley
Summary
This coif is a fine example of blackwork, a style of needlework popular in England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was worked with a single colour of silk, usually black, but also blue, red or, as in this coif, green on linen. Like other embroidered dress accessories, the needlework on this coif is highlighted with embroidery and spangles in precious metal threads.



Many coifs in the collection are now flat. They were either never sewn up or later unpicked so that they could be framed flat to show off the embroidery, before they were acquired by the V&A. This coif shows how the seam at the top and gathers at the crown were originally finished.
Collection
Accession Number
T.320-1979

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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