Roller print cotton wrapper, 1850s-1860s
The invention of roller printing on textiles revolutionized fashion. It became possible to inexpensively produce multicolored patterns with fine lines and seamless joins, replacing hand-blocked prints affordable only by the wealthy. Early roller print designs are treasured today by collectors.
With three distinct prints, this reversible wrapper is a special find for the collector of 19th century printed cottons. As a lover of these early prints, my heart skipped a beat when I first saw the wrapper.
The prints in the wrapper are dyed with madder, a vegetable dye that produces a wide range of hues including red, rust, orange, black, brown, and purple. The colorfast dye was in wide use in the second half of the 19th century.
The wrapper, completely finished on both sides, is reversible. However, the front pocket appears on only one side. The wrapper closes in front with small mother-of-pearl buttons. The cut is flared and loose for comfortable wear in the home.
The vividness and saturation of the colors in this 160-year-old wrapper cannot be topped in today's retail market. Here we see (among other hues) Persian red, brown, umber brown, and desert sand.
The condition is very good to excellent. The structurally perfect wrapper has scattered brown age spots and stains. This does not bother me since an antique should look like an antique, and not like a recent purchase from Nordstroms.
It measures: 52" bust, 64" waist, 80" hip, 20" sleeve length, and 50" from shoulder to hem.