A pattern book with a difference

While moving some of our outsize items to more suitable shelves last week (a seemingly endless job), I came across an unusually thick volume (D4984/11/1).  I don’t normally look at the records I’m moving – I would never get anything done if I did! – but occasionally I allow my curiosity to get the better of me and I removed the packaging:

D4984 11 1 pattern book

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s big!  When I opened a random page, it became clear that this is a pattern book, with some lovely fabric samples:

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We have other pattern books in our collection and they’re always a pleasure to look at, although most have a wider variety; the samples in this book are all very delicate and in pastel colours.  Looking at some other pages, I was surprised to find examples of metal fastenings and some kind of metal rods – definitely not something I’d come across before:

And then right at the back of the book it all goes very feminine again, with examples of pretty trims and bows:

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Intrigued, I looked in our catalogue when I got back to my office: it is indeed a pattern book, dating from the late nineteenth century, from an Ashbourne company called Richard Cooper and Co. Have you guessed what they made?

Corsets!

 

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