Monday, July 18, 2011

Mens Cuffs, Collars and Victorian Laundry, ca. 1890's

This bag of collars and cuffs belonged to Uncle Brud, aka Charles Harrell Moran and considering they've been around since the late 1800's - early 1900's they are in fairly good condition.

Victorian shirts were often made without collars and cuffs.  Those were sold separately and could be used interchangeably on different shirts.  There were also different types of collar styles such as the high collar or the winged which was turned down and would be worn for different occasions.  

If you've ever wondered why the cuffs and collars were made separate from the shirt you might want to think about laundry.  The washing machine didn't become available till about 1880 and even then only the wealthy could afford one.  Also, the washing machine of 1880 was nothing like the washing machine of today.  First of all there was no electricity so it was hand operated but even before that the clothes had to be soaked and rinsed, boiled, "blued", hung, starched and so on.  Doing laundry was a time consuming task so most households, even those with money, were lucky if they got clean clothes once a week.  Most probably did laundry more like once a month.  

So, the dirtiest part of a shirt usually was the collar and cuffs.  It made sense to make them separate from the shirt so that a fresh set could be put on every day or so.  However, even the cuffs and collars had to be cleaned and for some that was still a lot of work so men could even buy disposable paper cuffs and collars to used once and then thrown away.

Next time you complain about doing laundry, think back to the Victorians and you'll have a greater appreciation for that High Efficiency Front Load washing machine in your laundry room!

Leather bag with pull string closing.  Owned by C.H. Moran and used to store his collars and cuffs.

 Collars and cuffs from inside the bag.

Another view of the bag and its contents.

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