November, 2007 -Tasha Tudor Historic Costume Collection

  • November 11th, 2007
  • New Hope, PA

At the age of 9, Tasha Tudor purchased her first article of early 19th century clothing.  Over the next seventy years, this iconic American author & illustrator amassed a comprehensive collection of American & European women's, men's and children's historic clothing that dated from the mid 18th  through the mid 19th centuries.

Printed cotton day dresses from the 1830s were the focal point of Tasha Tudor’s costume collecting. Her collection documents the convergence of 1830s manufacturing technology and fashion.  Textile mills in England and the United States were able to satisfy consumer demand for endless, varied & fanciful printed cottons.

In 1996 Tasha Tudor loaned her entire costume collection to Colonial Williamsburg.  Since that time, many garments from the Tudor collection have complemented numerous exhibits at Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace museum.  Additionally, many of these garments have been used as research & reference in scholarly publications; i.e: Linda Baumgarten’s book What Clothes Reveal, plates 95, 220 & 388 and Jane Gilliam & Linda Baumgarten’s article, “19th Century Children’s Costume in Tasha Tudor’s Collection” in the magazine ANTIQUES, April 1998 issue. Selections from the Tudor collection were gifted to Colonial Williamsburg and are now part of their permanent costume archive.

The remaining garments, nearly 500 items, were offered in their entirety by Augusta Auction Company as a single-owner sale on Sunday November 11, 2007.  When they were displayed in our gallery on November 10th, these items comprised the largest public exhibition of early 19th century printed garments in our lifetimes.

A full-color book documenting this amazing collection is available for purchase. Ms Tudor had told us that these “costumes were ones I use frequently in my artwork using a life size figure to model the dresses from which I would prepare sketches.
I even wore some of the dresses.”

Tasha Tudor passed away in the summer of 2008, eight months after our sale, surrounded by her beloved Corgis, gardens, antiques, & dolls. During her lifetime, she illustrated nearly 100 books since publishing her first, Pumpkin Moonshine, in 1938.  She lived her life dedicated to a love and appreciation of rural 1830s sensibility.  To learn more about this American treasure, we suggest visiting the website run by her family, www.tashatudorandfamily.com.

This auction was a once in a lifetime opportunity to view selections that had taken much of the 20th century to assemble.  Each lot was sold with two certificates of authenticity; a copy of a signed letter from Tasha Tudor about her collection and a copy of Colonial Williamsburg’s inventory data sheet.

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