United Kingdom. c. 1900- 1905. A sporting corset made from creme colored silk and lined in white jean.
Although there are no maker’s marks present, it was most likely made by Symington(Market Harborough, Leicestershire). The Symington corset collection describes the corset as being “an avant-garde design for the sportswoman, this corset includes many features and adaptations to make it suitable for riding, cycling, tennis and golf.”
The corset is cut under the bust to allow the body to move with ease and cut high in the hip to allow for the correct position during side saddle riding.
The top and bottom edges of the corset are trimmed with a narrow band of Broderie Anglaise. Extremely narrow rows of cording run parallel with the top and bottom edges of the corset. The boning is whalebone and runs the full length of the corset at the sides and alongside the grommets while shorter whalebones are seen on the stomach and back side panels. These short bones along with the cording, would have given the figure the required support yet still allowed for ease of movement during sports. Stocking suspenders on this corset were kept to a bare minimum of two so that stockings could still be worn but without the constraint of additional suspenders.
The busk is perfectly straight as was fashionable during the Edwardian era. Measurements: Waist 22 1/2″, Busk length 11″.
From the collection of L. Hidic
United Kingdom. c.1902. A corset with a removable busk made from light drab colored coutil and lined in white cotton drill. The corset is stamped on the inside of
the busk in black ink with the brand name Menzies along with a warning that the corset was a “Protected by Royal Letters Patent”. Royal letters patents were a form of copyright used only in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries.
The front has a removable busk with a wide and thick busk protector backing it, which laces to the front sides of the corset. This enabled the busk and busk protector to be removed for easy laundering thereby preventing it from rusting and also allow for slight adjustment in size. The only other boning found in the corset are the side steels and the back steels on each side of the brass grommets. Cording gives the body the required support along with quilting at the bust. The top of the corset is trimmed with drab colored lace with blue baby ribbon inserts. Dark teal “X” shaped flossing decorates the side steel bone casings.
The Menzies corset was advertised in the 1902 John Noble catalogue (Manchester) as costing 4 shillings and 11 pence for sizes 19″ to 30″ waist, 5 shillings and 11 pence for sizes over 30″ and 2 shillings and 6 pence for “Maid’s” sizes. The catalogue also states that an extra busk and directions were supplied with each pair of Menzies corset. Measurements: Bust 40″, Waist 32″, Hips 39″, Busk length 14″.
From the collection of L. Hidic
France. C.1908- 1909. A straight front s-bend corset made from olive colored coutil with lime green and white flossing on the bone casings and the bust. The bust line also features white quilting for extra bust support. The top of the corset is edged with Khaki green colored cotton Broderie Anglaise trim with white silk ribbon inserts. The corset is not lined but the bottom edge is bound in light green cotton tape.
The corset is cut longer in the body and is not as pinched in at the waist as earlier Edwardian corsets had been which foreshadows the longline corsets of the 1910’s. The busk is perfectly straight and paired up with the large diagonally shaped hip gussets, would coax the figure into a gentle S-bend shape.
Although whalebone was becoming scarce and very expensive by this date, the French could not do without whalebone in their corsets and so this corset is boned with 30 whalebones. The back bones are spring steel.
Measurements: Bust 36″, Waist 28″, Hips 39″, Busk length 11 3/4″ although the corset extends 2 3/4″ past the bottom end of the busk.
Belgium C.1901. An early Edwardian white coutil riding corset made in Bruxelles expressly for the London firm Dickins & Jones Ltd. of Regent street. The firm is still trading in London and during the Edwardian era, they were the sole retailers of the Specialite corset in England although sole agents for the Specialite corset were found in places as far away as Calcutta!
A 1901 advertisement from The Queen magazine states that the “Specialite corset is made of the best materials, and fitted throughout with REAL WHALEBONE (busks and side steels excepted), best sewing and perfect finish”. All this quality and workmanship came at a price and Specialite corsets were on the pricey side ranging in price from 16 shillings and 6 pence to 29 shillings and 6 pence. The price of one corset was most often more than what most working class people earned in one week.
The top of the corset is decorated with a 3″ band of cotton lace with two rows of creme silk baby ribbon inserts. Although the corset has the required diagonal seaming for Edwardian S-bend corsets, the corset utilizes a curved busk rather than a straight busk. A curved busk would have made side saddle riding most comfortable as the bottom curve of the busk allows the displaced flesh from the stomach, somewhere to go. The hips of the corset are cut high to allow for the correct leg position while riding. “Dickins & Jones” is stamped on each busk loop. Each bone casing is flossed with creme silk thread. The inside of the corset has “Dickins & Jones LTD”, “The Specialite Corset Regd. Made in Bruxelles” along with “Real Whalebone” and “Riding” all stamped in blue ink on the bone casings.
Measurements: Bust 29″, Waist 19″, Hips 25″, Busk length 11″.
United States. c.1901. Stunning tea rose silk damask corset with pink rosebuds. Pale pink silk ribbon trimming along top, edged in lace and decorated with embroidery. Satin ribbon band trims bottom of corset. Lovely antique polished brass busk and hook marked, Meilleur. Bias seaming with three hip gussets and one front bust gusset.
Inside stamped, Madame Lemay Corsetiere, Astor Court, Adj???ing Waldorf Astoria. Madame Lemay was possibly the corsetiere for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue, NY. Perhaps this corset was a special commission for a hotel guest. Supported with 26 whalebones.
Bust 33, waist 21.
From the collection of M. Talkington