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The Regency Red Cloak

My cloak is come home. I like it very much, and can now exclaim with delight, like J. Bond at hay-harvest, “This is what I have been looking for these three years.
-Jane Austen to Cassandra
June 2, 1799

For many years, the Regency Red Cloak was the staple of winter warmth in both England and the Americas. According to Jessamyn Brown, they were “common wear for several decades. Well-established garb by the onset of the Regency, they lasted into the 1830s, although they were out of style by then.” One researcher has pointed out that they were worn mainly in the country, (though the following fashion plate from the latter Regency shows a dressy “Town” version) and most often with Morning Dress, for walking, shopping, etc. Plush trim was also occasionally added, for a bit of dash.

 

Perhaps the most famous illustrator of the red walking cloak is Diana Sperling, who often captured scenes of young ladies out walking in her sketchbook, Mrs. Hurst Dancing. For some reason, the red cloak also became a symbol of the wandering gypsies (one wonders if they were worn by the Gypsy woman that accosted Harriet Smith, in Emma) and who could forget the role they played during the famous Battle of Fishguard, when the women of the town, dressed in their scarlet cloaks and tall Welsh hats were mistaken by the French for British Regulars!
Continue reading The Regency Red Cloak

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Jane Austen’s Turquoise Ring

She went after dinner to shew her ring…
Pride and Prejudice

The Telegraph recently reported on a gold and turquoise ring belonging to Jane Austen which sold for more than £150,000 at an auction in London – more than five times its estimate.

This image was featured in the Telegraph article.

The turquoise gemstone was actually quite popular in the Regency. Easy trade routs from Egypt and Africa ensured that this bright blue stone remained both an affordable luxury, and easily available.

According to Amy Willis, “The ring, which featured a large oval turquoise gemstone, was sold alongside a handwritten letter by her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen (Henry Austen’s second wife) bequeathing the rare jewel to her niece Caroline. The note, dated 1863, confirms the item belonged to the 19th-century British author.

“My dear Caroline,” Eleanor wrote. “The enclosed ring once belonged to your Aunt Jane. It was given to me by your Aunt Cassandra as soon as she knew that I was engaged to your uncle. I bequeath it to you. God bless you!”

“Jane Austen’s simple and modest ring is a wonderfully intimate and evocative possession,” said Dr Gabriel Heaton, a manuscript specialist at Sotheby’s auction house.”

It is interesting to note that original appraisers of the turquoise ring  assumed it to be odontalite, a much less expensive stone that was often used to imitate this luxury item. Sotheby’s first  description stated that the ring reflected both Jane Austen’s “taste in jewelry” and “modest income”. A second examination, however, proved that the stone was indeed genuine gold and turquoise, raising speculation as to whom it came from and that the ring might even have been an engagement ring. No one seems to know how the turquoise ring came into Jane’s possession, but it has been in the Austen family ever since, until its recent purchase by an anonymous bidder.

In any event, it is a beautiful piece and adds a bit more to our knowledge of Jane (note that the colour is a beautiful match to the bracelet owned by the Chawton Cottage Museum) and raises even more questions, revealing how much we really just don’t know about her private life.

Visit our giftshop to purchase your own turquoise jewelry, and be sure to check out Jane Smith’s Regency Reproductions, inspired by Jane.

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The Choker Necklace

This supposed drawing of the Austen family shows Mrs. Austen wearing a fashionable black ribbon choker.

Chokers (necklaces that sit tight to the throat) have been popular throughout history– from Anne Boleyn’s famous “B”, to Empress Sisi’s simple black ribbon. Today they can be found made of anything from hemp to diamonds.

choker necklace
Georgian Aquamarine & Diamond Garland Choker

During Jane Austen’s lifetime, chokers were worn in many forms, from this vintage Georgian aquamarine and diamond creation, tied on with ribbon, to strands of pearls, to a simple ribbon tied about the neck. During the French Revolution, female French expatriots used to wear a thin red ribbon choker as a silent testament to their own narrow escape and in memory of their many friends and family members who were not as lucky. Soon all of London wanted to wear the red ribbon, beginning one of the first times in history when a ribbon has been used as a gesture of solidarity and sympathy with a class of victims.

Ribbon chokers might also be accented by a jeweled slide or cameo pin.

choker necklace
Georgian society women had a penchant for black ribbon chokers. Left: Young Georgiana with her Mother, Georgiana, Countess Spencer (1761) Right: Actress Sarah Siddons, 1785.

Here are a few images of chokers throughout history, from Anne Boleyn (1507-1536), to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744–1818) to Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and Mary of Teck (1867–1953) who preferred the style with ropes of pearls.

choker necklace
Chokers have been a popular choice for Britain’s queens.

 

Laura Boyle is an avid Regency enthusiast. Find more fashion information or purchase your own choker necklace from her shop, Austentation: Regency Accessories

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Changing Tastes in Georgian Jewelry

Georgian jewelry was made between 1714 and 1830 during the reigns of the four English kings named George. Varying styles of jewelry were produced during this period.

The styles moved from Rococo during George the first’s reign through Gothic revival and Neoclassical (hearkening back to the Greek and Roman empires). Neoclassical styles reached their height during Napoleon’s reign. Neoclassical was all the rage in both England and France. Napoleon funded extensive excavations at Pompeii creating a vogue for the Neoclassical as more Roman houses and artifacts
were revealed.

All Georgian Jewelry was handmade. This was a period of discovery and innovation. Glass paste copies of real gems were developed as well as a substitute for gold called “pinchbeck” named after its inventor. The early Georgian fashion called for the use of large stones set in an elaborate rococo style.

Cameos, intaglios, mosaic, acorns, the Greek key, Urns, Doves, Phoenix, Wheat, and plumage were all popular Georgian motifs.


Men wore more jewelry in those days than is the custom presently. Miniatures, tiny portraits of a loved one, were already popular. A man’s locket with a secret became a fad during the reign of George III. The first ‘lover’s eye’ locket miniature may have been commissioned by Mrs. Fitzherbert for the Prince of Wales after their secret marriage in 1785. These lockets contained a painting of the eye area and a wisp of hair drooping across the forehead. This miniature was both intimate and anonymous.

Large jewelry in the form of bracelets, index finger rings, girandole earrings, memorabilia jewelry, crosses, hair combs, buckles, aigrettes, and tiaras were favored in Georgian
times. Dog collars or chokers as we call them today were popular in the period 1770 to 1790.

A wreath tiara similar to this one was purchased for Princess Charlotte’s wedding. Parliament granted the Princess the sum of 10,000 pounds for jewelry at her marriage in 1816. She purchased “a most superb wreath of brilliants, forming rosebuds with their leaves, a diamond fastener for her manteau, a diamond cestus, ear-rings, and an armlet of great
value, with a superb set of pearls from Rundell, Bridge & Co.”

At the beginning of the Georgian period diamonds were used to the almost total exclusion of other stones. To meet the increased demand for white stones in the first half of the 18th century, paste, rock crystal, marcasite, and cut steel were employed with increasing sophistication.

Originally, rhinestones were rock crystals gathered from the river Rhine. The availability was greatly increased when around 1775 the Alsatian jeweller Georg Friedrich Strass had the idea to imitate diamonds by coating the lower side of glass with metal powder. Hence, rhinestones are called Strass in many European languages. Strass is known as the creator of the best and most long lasting paste jewelry. Most paste and rhinestones are simply leaded glass made in colors and cuts that mimic gemstones. Because leaded glass has such a nice luster it gives a look similar to a gemstone, particularly at a distance.

Paste diamond imitations made it possible to make inexpensive copies of the real thing to guard against theft by highwaymen. Diamond alternatives were soon produced with such quality that it was entirely respectable for even royalty to wear them.

At this time diamond cutters were introducing exciting new types of gem cuts such as rose cut, cushion, and ‘brilliants’. In the 1750’s colored stones came back into vogue. Then emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were worn again along with new stones like white-imperial-pink topazes, amethyst, chartreuse chrysoberyl, coral, ivory, pearls, and garnets.

Lava, shell, onyx, and carnelian became popular with the introduction of carved classically themed jewelry. This Neoclassical style began with the discovery and excavation of Pompeii in the mid 1700s. Finds there greatly influenced fashion, architecture, interior design, and philosophy and literature. Cameos became very popular after Napoleon had antique Roman cameos placed on his coronation crown for his 1804 coronation.

Bezels, foilbacked stones, low flat goldwork, and cobalt blue and black and white enameling are common features of Georgian jewelry. Georgian pieces can sometimes be detected by the way the stones are mounted. Unlike the open work favored today for gem stones, Georgian gems were often set over gold or silver foil with their backs enclosed with metal as rhinestones generally are today. In more recent jewelry foil backing always indicates a fake stone.

Gold with high karat content was preferred. However, Berlin iron made in that city from 1806 was popular during the Napoleonic Wars as a show of patriotism. Pinchbeck a cheap replacement for gold was used for faux pieces.


Given the uncertainty of life and the state of medicine in those days, it is no surprise that memorial jewelry was common. However, it was not yet such a major force as memorial or hair jewelry was to become by Victorian times when the overcrowding of cities, poor sanitation practices, and plagues would take a terrible toll on families. The strands of hair in this pendant are believed to be Jane Austen’s, taken by her sister Cassandra just before her coffin was closed in 1817.


Reprinted with permission Sharon Wagoner, Curator of The Georgian Index. Visit this site for a historical
tour through Regency London!

Additional information from Wikipedia

“Charles has been buying gold chains & Topaze crosses for us…” – Jane Austen

complete any outfit with this beautiful Topaz cross

  • Inspired by the necklace that Charles Austen gave his sisters in 1801.
  • 18K white gold plated pendant and chain.
  • 5x8mm Yellow Topaz stones with a 4mm White Topaz centre stone.
  • Pendant measures 32 mm x 23 mm
  • Chain measures 47cm / 18″.
  • Comes in a delightful gift bag.
  • The finishing touch to your Jane Austen costume.

 

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Armlets: Regency Arm Candy

Julie Nigris 1799 , by Vigee LeBrun

The bracelets are in my possession, and everything I could wish them to be. They came with Martha’s pelisse, which likewise gives great satisfaction.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
December 9, 1808

During the Regency, there was a mania for everything ancient– Roman, Grecian, Egyptian– part of this exotic look was gained by the use of “armlets”– bracelets made for your upper arm. They are quite common in portraits of the time, and though popular for the decades, show up in fashion magazines and plates particularly from 1809-1818. The following quote, on the wearing of gloves, from Mirror of Graces; or the English Lady’s Costume (1811) shows that they were also used as “garters” to hold up long gloves, if one’s arms were not particularly attractive.

If the prevailing fashion be to reject the long sleeve, and to partially display the arm, let the glove advance considerably above the elbow, and there be fastened with a draw-string or armlet. But this should only be the case when the arm is muscular, coarse, or scraggy. When it is fair, smooth, and round, it will admit of the glove being pushed down to a little above the wrists.

Period portraits show a variety of armlet styles
Period portraits show a variety of armlet styles

The following fashion plates give even more examples of armlets.

Le Beau Monde, May, 1809

A turban a la Greque, of pale yellow and silver, the hair in small ringlets round the face; diamond earrings, and armlets, either with or without necklace. Sack dress of pale yellow, trimmed with silver, white satin shoes, and white kid gloves.
Le Beau Monde, and Monthly Register, 1806-1810
Volume 1 , No. 2 May, 1809

Ackermann's Repository, 1818

From Ackermann’s Repository of The Arts, 1818

Evening Dress:
A black crape frock over a black sarsnet slip: the body is composed of white crape, tastefully ornamented, with deep vandykes of black velvet, each vandyke  finished at the point by a little light ornament of black chenille. Short full sleeves of intermixed black and white crape, fulness drawn to the middle of the arm, confided in three separate folds by vandykes of black velvet. The bottom of the skirt is finished by a row of black velvet vandykes, surmounted  by a large rolueau of white crape, entwined with black chenille; two rows of roses composed of black crape mixed with chenille complete the trimming. Headdress, a white crape toque, is ornamented around the front in chenille and finished by a diadem of white crape roses. Earrings, armlets, necklace and cross composed of jet. Black chamois leather gloves and slippers which are ornamented with  rosettes of white chenille. A black China crape scarf, richly worked at the ends in an embroidery of white flowers, is finished by a black silk fringe.

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Coral Necklaces, Regency Style

 

Remember, I am to have a new Carriage hung as high as the Duttons’, and blue spotted with silver; and I shall expect a new saddle horse, a suit of fine lace, and an infinite number of the most valuable Jewels. Diamonds such as never were seen, and Pearls, Rubies, Emeralds, and Beads out of number…
-Jane Austen
The Three Sisters

Lady Maria Hamilton, 1802, by Thomas Lawrence.

You’ve probably seen the necklaces dozens of times without noticing them. I have. These beautiful single string coral necklaces worn by Regency ladies escaped my attention until my friend and blogging partner on Jane Austen Today, Laurel Ann of Austenprose, sent me some spectacular images, such as the one of Lady Maria Hamilton, who died in 1814, unmarried. Coral has enjoyed a long and ancient tradition, first worn as a talisman and later for its color and beauty. One of my favorite drawings by Peter Paul Rubens depicts his son with a coral necklace. At the time coral was thought to protect the wearer.

Nicolaas Rubens Wearing a Coral Necklace, Peter Paul Rubens, Red and black chalk heightened with white and some black ink on paper, c. 1619

The tradition of giving children coral necklaces continued through the 19th century, as shown in this detail of a late 18th century John Hoppner painting of one of the Sackville girls. The gemstone was considered a guardian of sorts, protecting children from illnesses like stomachaches, fever, typhus, smallpox, and rickets. The mala beads were polished to a smooth sheen and matched in color. Bead sizes could be similar or gradated from small to larger stones that were strung in the center.

The Sackville Children, detail, John Hoppner, 1796

Handmade jewellery created during the late Georgian Era (1760-1837) is extremely hard to find today.  As styles changed, the pieces were remade rather than tossed out or sold. Until the latter part of the 18th century, coral was harvested from the sea largely by dredging. Fine quality red coral came from the Mediterranean – Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and the islands of Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, with some saying that the best corals came off the coasts of Algeria and Tunisia. Eighteenth century coral was a rich warm red and is unavailable today. In fact, original antique jewellery made with dark red coral is so difficult to find that it has become a highly prized collectible.

Jane Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford, John Hoppner, 1797

 

Early 19th century red coral necklace

Simple round necklaces, like the one worn by the Countess of Oxford, were popular and complimented low necklines, but chokers were also fashionable, like the Georgian Cannetille Sardinian red coral four strand necklace on the left. Coral is made up of the skeletal material built up by small animals that live in slow growing colonies in the sea. Colors range from vivid orange, red, and white, to salmon and pale pink (called angelskin coral). In jewelry making coral is either carved into beads, cameos, and other forms, or is left in its natural branch-like form and simply polished. (My mother had such a necklace, which I played with as a child.) The most sought after color (and the rarest) is a deep red, as in the necklace at left.  Coral manufacturing during the Regency Period consisted primarily of filing beads of smoothed coral and stringing necklaces. Because coral consists of calcium carbonate, it is extremely sensitive to chemicals,  perfumes, and body acids. Like pearls, the necklaces must be washed with a damp cloth (no detergents) and restrung periodically.

Little boy placing a coral necklace on a dog's neck, Martin Drolling
Drawing by Jacopo Vignali

Many mystical and medicinal properties were attributed to coral, among them vitality, physical strength, stronger marital relationships, wealth, increased sensuality, and protection while out to sea. Coral was also used as a medicinal powder. Primitive physics believed that coral oxides mixed with honey made a person strong. Mix it with betel leaf and it made a potent cure for cough and heart disease. Coral powder is still a popular aphrodisiac in India today, which prompts avaricious collectors to dynamite coral reefs, putting fragile reefs in acute danger. In the detail of a 17th century drawing by Jacopo Vignali at left, one can easily see why this semi-precious stone was considered to have sensual qualities. The combination of the coral necklace and her full lips make the young woman look both fragile and seductive.

More information about corals can be found in these links:

Modern Regency reproduction coral jewelry is available from Jane Smith’s Regency Collection


Vic Sanborn oversees two blogs: Jane Austen’s World and Jane Austen Today. Before 2006 she merely adored Jane Austen and read Pride and Prejudice faithfully every year. These days, she is immersed in reading and writing about the author’s life and the Regency era. Co-founder of her local (and very small) book group, Janeites on the James, she began her blogs as a way to share her research on the Regency era for her novel, which sits unpublished on a dusty shelf. In her working life, Vic provides resources and professional development for teachers and administrators of Virginia’s adult education and literacy programs. This article was written for Jane Austen’s World and is used here with permission.

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A Cameo Appearance

 

Charlotte was to go: with excellent health, to bathe and be better if she could; to receive every possible pleasure which Sanditon could made to supply by the gratitude of those she went with; and to buy new parasols, new gloves and new brooches for her sisters and herself at the library, which Mr. Parker was anxiously wishing to support.
-Sanditon

Cameos seem as if they belong to the Regency. Often portraying Greek or Roman scenes and faces, they evoke a romantic mood and whispers of a time long past. In reality, though, these charming vignettes of time gone by hearken back over thousands, not hundreds of years.

The word cameo, actually refers to the method of carving an object such as an engraved gem, item of jewellery or vessel. These nearly always feature a raised (positive) relief image (in contrast with intaglio, which has a negative image.) Originally, cameo only referred to works where the relief image was of a contrasting colour to the background; this was achieved by carefully carving a piece of material with a flat plane where two contrasting colours met, removing all the first colour except for the image to leave a contrasting background.

An elaborate cameo necklace and earring set. Part of the Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion traveling exhibit.

Cameos are often worn as jewelry, but in ancient times were mainly used for signet rings, although the largest examples were probably too large for this, and were just admired as objets d’art. Stone cameos of great artistry were made in Greece dating back as far as the 3rd century BC. The Farnese Tazza (a cup) is the oldest major Hellenistic piece surviving. They were very popular in Ancient Rome, especially in the family circle of Augustus. The most famous stone “state cameos” from this period are the Gemma Augustea, the Gemma Claudia made for the Emperor Claudius, and the largest flat engraved gem known from antiquity, the Great Cameo of France.

the Gemma Augustea and the Gemma Claudia made for the Emperor Claudius

During the Roman period the cameo technique was used on artificial glass blanks, in imitation of objects being produced in agate or sardonyx. Cameo glass objects were produced in two periods; between around 25 BC and 50/60 AD, and in the later Empire around the mid-third and mid-fourth century.Roman glass cameos are rare objects, with only around two hundred fragments and sixteen complete pieces known, only one of which dates from the later period. During the early period they usually consisted of a blue glass base with a white overlying layer, but those made during the later period usually have a colourless background covered with a translucent coloured layer. Blanks could be produced by fusing two separately cast sheets of glass, or by dipping the base glass into a crucible of molten overlay glass during blowing. The most famous example of a cameo from the early period is the Portland Vase.

The Portland Vase

Although occasionally used in Roman cameos, the earliest prevalent use of shell for cameo carving was during the Renaissance. In the mid 18th century, explorations revealed new shell varieties. Helmet shells (Cassis tuberosa) from the West Indies, and queen conch shells (Eustrombus gigas) from the Bahamas and West Indies, arrived in Europe. This sparked a large increase in the number of cameos that were carved from shells.

An assortment of vintage cameos

In Britain, this revival first occurred during King George III’s reign. As with many fashion trends of the time, this one was imported from France and stemmed from a heightened interest in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, due to Napoleon’s campaigns in the south. A cameo diadem carved from a single shell, depicting a scene from greek mythology, framed by gold, pearls and precious and semiprecious stones, was a present to Josephine from her brother-in-law Joachim Murat in 1811.

Empress Josephine's cameo tiara

Napoleon, himself, was fascinated by cameos, and as you can see, Josephine, who did nothing by halves, had a large collection of them set in pins, bracelets, combs, and more.

The Empress Josephine painted in a variety of cameo accessories

 

In 1823 the diadem became part Josephine's grandaughter, Josephine of Leuchtenberg's dowry upon her marriage to the future King of Sweden, Oscar I. Now part of Swedish Crown jewels, the tiara has been worn by many royal brides, including Crown Princess Victoria, who married the Duke of Västergötland in 2010.

 

In Britain, King George’s granddaughter, Queen Victoria, was a major proponent of the cameo trend, to the extent that they would become mass produced by the second half of the 19th century. After 1850 demand for cameos grew, as they became popular souvenirs of the Grand Tour among the middle class.

Antique Victorian Cameos

Cameos continue to be popular jewelry subjects for pins, necklaces, rings, hair clips, earrings and more. Both vintage and new models can be found for sale with little searching; perhaps because they evoke a romantic feel…perhaps because they are so innately elegant. However you look at it, though, cameos continue to be one of the longest lasting jewelry trends in history.

Cameo earrings
Cameo earrings

 We have a lovely range of cameo jewellery at our giftshop – click here to visit out market place.


 

A variety of vintage and reproduction cameo jewelry pieces can be found at Austentation: Regency Accesssories and Austenation: Etsy.

Historical information from Wikipedia.com

For more information about France’s Empress Josephine and her love of Cameo jewelry, visit Melanie’s in depth site.

To view more information about the Swedish Crown Jewels, try this page.

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Paisley Shawls in the Regency

A Regency woman in her Paisley shawl

Paisley Shawls in the Regency

In Paragon we met Mrs. Foley and Mrs. Dowdeswell with her yellow shawl airing out…
Jane Austen to Cassandra
13, Queen’s Square, Friday (May 17, 1799)

This beautiful gown and paisley shawl is part of the Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion traveling exhibit.

 

Although often thought of as a Victorian pattern, the paisley design, which is named for the city of Paisley, in Scotland, is actually quite old, with some scholars even dating it from the Sassanid Dynasty (200–650 AD) in Iran. The modern French words for paisley are boteh and palme, the latter being a reference to the palm tree, which, along with the pine and the cypress, is one of the traditional botanical motifs thought to have influenced the shape of the paisley element as it is now known.

A sample of Toile de Jouy

Imports to England by the East India Company in the first half of the 17th century made paisley and other Indian patterns popular, and the Company was unable to import enough to meet the demand. Local manufacturers in Marseilles began to mass-produce the patterns via early textile printing processes in 1640. England (1670), and Holland, (1678), soon followed. This, in turn, provided Europe’s weavers with more competition than they could bear, and the production and import of printed paisley was forbidden in France by royal decree from 1686 to 1759. However, enforcement near the end of that period was lax, and France had its own printed textile manufacturing industry in place as early at 1746 in some locales. Paisley was not the only design produced by French textile printers; the demand for paisley which created the industry there also made possible production of native patterns such as toile de Jouy.

In the 19th Century European production of paisley increased, particularly in the Scottish town from which the pattern takes its modern name. Soldiers returning from the colonies brought home cashmere wool shawls from India, and the East India Company imported more. The design was copied from the costly silk and wool Kashmir shawls and adapted first for use on handlooms, and, after 1820,on Jacquard looms. Imported cashmere shawls were not only worn for warmth, they were even cut and made into gowns, as this example from the Victoria and Albert museum shows.

A variety of Regency fashion plates and portraits showing paisley shawls and a period example.

From roughly 1800 to 1850, the weavers of the town of Paisley in Renfrewshire, Scotland, became the foremost producers of these shawls. Unique additions to their handlooms and Jacquard looms permitted them to work in five colors when most weavers were producing paisley using only two.The design became known as the Paisley pattern. Regency designs, like those shown here, often featured a border print along the edge of the shawl rather than an overall Paisley pattern. By 1860, Paisley could produce shawls with fifteen colors, which was still only a quarter of the colors in the multi-color paisleys then still being imported from Kashmir.

Hand stamp for printing traditional “paisley” designs

In addition to the loom-woven fabric, Paisley became a major site for the manufacture of printed cotton and wool in the 19th Century, according to the Scotland’s Paisley Museum and Art Gallery.The paisley pattern was being printed, rather than woven, onto other textiles, including cotton squares which were the precursors of the modern bandanna. Being able to purchase printed paisley rather than woven paisley brought the price of the costly pattern down and added to its popularity. The key places of manufacture for printed paisley were Britain and the Alsace region of France.

The paisley design, sometimes referred to as “The Persian Pickle” (American quiltmakers) or Welsh pears”  (Welsh textiles, as far back as 1888) design is here to stay. It can be found on note cards and textiles, wallpaper and more.