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Wire-frame bonnet, 1870

#c370 $450

Small wire-frame bonnet, 1870s-1880s

Bonnets from the late Victorian period were pure embellishment with no pretext of function. More as a hair ornament than to shield the wearer from the weather, our bonnet was meant to perch on top of an elaborate coiffure.

This delightful confection layers bronze metallic lace with hanging beaded balls on top of a wire frame. The top is decorated with black fabric flowers as well as velveteen forget-me-nots—an exquisite Grecian garland. Black velvet ribbon streamers fall from the back.

These charming little hats of the 1870s and 1880s made an indelible impression on the fashion consciousness of society. Looking back to that time from the Edwardian period, 40 years later, Proust's narrator in Swann's Way expresses a fervent longing for that earlier fashion and a disdain for the new style in hats.

I wished to hold before my bodily eyes, that I might know whether they were indeed as charming as they appeared to the eyes of memory, those little hats, so low-crowned as to seem no more than garlands about the brows of women. All the hats now were immense; covered with fruits and flowers and all manner of birds.

The label reads "Miss L.C. Adams/The Grant Dry Goods Co./Trenton, N.J."

The condition is excellent. The bonnet displays beautifully.

The bonnet has a 6 1/2" diameter.

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