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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1590-1610 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, linen thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-sewn and hand-embroidered

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This coif is decorated in a technique known as cutwork, where threads of the woven linen are cut and removed, and the remaining threads embroidered over to create open, lace-like patterns. The cutwork is further embellished with silver-gilt thread.

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 with repeating pattern of roses and eglantine. The outlines of the flowers and stems are worked with silver-gilt thread in chain stitch. The centres of the flowers are decorated with drawn-thread and pulled fabric work with needlepoint fillings. The outline of the coif is embroidered with silver-gilt thread in chain stitch. There is a casing at the bottom and the coif has cheek-pieces and a widow's peak. The front edges are embroidered with silver-gilt thread in plaited braid stitch. The top seam and crown gathers have been unpicked at a later date.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1590-1610 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, linen thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-sewn and hand-embroidered


Width: 49.6 cm overall, approx., Length: 22.6 cm overall, approx

Descriptive line

Woman's coif of linen, 1590-1610, British; embroidered with silver-gilt thread and cutwork

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, p.84, plate LXII


Linen; Silver



Subjects depicted

Roses; Eglantine


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


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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