Summary

Alternate Name(s): Plush Cape, Opera Cape, Mantle, Mantelet

Black velvet cape with black jet beading, high black feather collar, and a bright pink patterned lining which might have been revealed when the wind blew or in an appropriate social context.

According to the donor, the cape was worn by Ivy Diamond Cole (later Rudd, 1885-1984), grandmother of the donor, as well as her sister Pearl (1884-1977) and likely their mother Mrs Eliza Cole (nee Jordan, 1842-1911). Mrs Cole was married to Edward William Cole, founder of Cole's Book Arcade. A photograph of Ivy wearing this or a similarly feathered outfit, with a feathered hat, is reproduced in Cole of the Book Arcade (Cole Turnley, 1974), p.139.

Although the cape is not specifically dated, it is likely to have been made in the late 19th or early 20th century. According to Horridge et al, velvet was particularly popular in the periods 1870-1879 and 1900-1909. Its popularity extended further too. In 1894 the Australian Town & Country Journal (Sydney) advertised a similarly-shaped black velvet cape it described as a 'handsome mantle' in 'velvet or sealette', trimmed with 'coque or fur', available from Horton Brothers. In 1896 the same journal recommended 'the Duchess' mantle, 'fashioned in rich black velours du Nord, and hand-embroidered with cut jet, the effect is very handsome and dignified, while the ostrich-feather trimming on the yoke, front, and high-rolled collar accentuates the suggestion of softness, warmth, and elegance.' (Australian Town and Country Journal, 4 July 1896, p.33). The Duchess is similar in appearance to the donated cape, although with more extensive beading and the addition of the feathered yoke. The 1902 Sears, Roebuck catalogue from the United States shows a range of capes of a similar length, with collars high and often trimmed with fur. Several hats feature feathers or 'aigrettes' (pp.951-945 & 1094).

Feather boas became fashionable around 1900, a trend which might be reflected in the feather trim of this cape (Pols 1995, p.83). Capes with feathers featured in an August 1900 issue of Australian Town and Country Journal. By 1903 the journal was advising that the cape 'would be as much worn as any coats. There is certainly a good reason for this, for with the very wide, elaborate, yet perishable sleeves now worn, it is a matter of difficulty to avoid crushing them when inserting them into a garment with sleeves, however wide.' (27 May 1903, p.43)

Physical Description

Black velvet cape heavily beaded with black jet (or similar) beads and feather collar, probably ostrich. Trimmed with bright pink patterned lining at front, and black quilted lining at back. A tiny black pocket has been sewn onto the left side of the pink lining, and still contains a handkerchief.

More Information

  • Collection Names

    Cole's Book Arcade Collection

  • Collecting Areas

    Home & Community, Clothing & Textiles

  • Date Made

    circa 1895-1905

  • Other Association (See Comments)

    Mr. Edward William Cole - Cole's Book Arcade
    Father and husband of wearers of the cape.

  • Other Association (See Comments)

    Cole's Book Arcade
    The cape was likely worn by the wife and daughter of Edward William Cole, founder of Cole's Book Arcade.

  • Classification

    Clothing, Female, Outerwear

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline

    History

  • Type of item

    Object

  • Overall Dimensions

    1444 mm (Width), 860 mm (Height)

  • References

    A photograph of Ivy wearing this or a similarly feathered outfit, with a feathered hat, is reproduced in Cole of the Book Arcade (Cole Turnley, 1974), p.139. The original of this photograph is likely held at the State Library of Victoria. Patricia E. Horridge, Diane G. Smathers and Diane L. Vachon, 'Technical Leaflet: Dating Costumes: A Checklist Method', Dec 1977. Robert Pols, 1995. Dating Old Photographs, Federation of Family History Societies (Publications), p.83. 1902 Sears, Roebuck catalogue, reproduced by Crown Publishers, Inc., 1969. [No heading]. (1894, April 7). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 34. Retrieved February 1, 2016, from [Link 1] The Latest Fashions. (1900, August 18). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 43. Retrieved February 1, 2016, from [Link 2] [No heading]. (1903, May 27). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 43. Retrieved February 1, 2016, from [Link 3] Latest Fashions. (1896, July 4). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 33. Retrieved February 1, 2016, from [Link 4]

  • Keywords

    Retailing, Fashion, Feathers