Demode's Real Women's Clothing, 1600-1919, which links visitors directly to extant garments in museum collections in America and Europe.
Photo: Screen shot of a late eighteenth century portrait ring from The Three Graces.
Alert costumers will also browse Ebay and well-known textiles dealers' sites. A couple of favorites for this era include:
- Antique and Vintage Dress Gallery
- Contentment Farm
- Cora Ginsberg LLC
- Karen Augusta
- The Three Graces (fine Georgian jewelry)
- Vintage Textile
There are other types of sources, however, that I rarely see references to, or that are new.
Major Auction House Catalogs and Results Pages
Charles A. Whitaker Auction Company
They have handled some famous collections in the past, such as the Tasha Tudor collection. I find their site hard to use.
Christie's: Fine Art Auctions
A literal treasure trove. Their paper catalogs have graced coffee tables and reference shelves for decades. Now their online auction results pages can serve the same function. Choose the Auction Results link towards the top of the homepage. Then browse month by month to look for auctions having to do with textiles and costume. It's slow work but will reveal marvels for this decade. As with many museum entries, sometimes I have quibbles with the dating of items, but less here than on some museum sites.
In Vienna. I have not seen costumes among their offerings, but their jewelry is phenomenal, and of course the paintings and drawings. I visited the auction house back in 2001 and it was an overwhelming, Aladdin's Cave experience. Wien, I miss you.
Kerry Taylor Auctions
This company handles most of Sotheby's offerings. It is not particularly easy to browse, and sometimes you have to go to a related site to see listings, but it's still worth the effort.
It's less easy to find items, but if you use the search box in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage, and enter "costume" or "dress" or "fashion", you can come up with items. Once you find an item to suit, click the sale number link at the top left of the item description screen to see the other lots sold in the same sale. Since sales often consist of similar items, this is a decent way to find sales consisting of multiple items of interest.
William Doyle Galleries
I haven't looked here much yet, but plan to do so in future.
Europeana: A New Way to Browse European Museum Holdings
Bjarne Drews pointed out this resource in the last month or so and I have used it several times. It's a portal to the holdings of several European museums. I find it best to find an item and then click the link to the actual museum's page, and then I browse their other holdings. Since I can read French and German decently, browsing isn't too bad, but you might find using Google's translator function helpful.
Photo: typical example of costume found using the Europeana portal.
To get started, type in "costume" in the search field...and you will get drawings and paintings and fashion plates and some costumes in the results screen...
Have fun dropping down the rabbit hole, and see you in a few years...