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We have another gem from the Costume Collection. A group of Volunteers from the Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) who come along most weeks to check and re-catalogue out fabulous costumes, have uncovered this…

Photo for cataloguing purposes only

This is estimated to have been made around 1750 or a little earlier. The Volunteers describe it thus:

“Blue silk brocade coat trimmed with sliver braid – high round neck, braid made from silver thread around neck and down both fronts to side slits. Also on two shaped pockets with flap fastened with two buttons, plus one for show. Twelve buttons of silver thread and blue velvet centre. Long shank for button holes extended for design. Curved, fitted sleeves fastened with eight buttons and trimmed with silver braid.. All in blue silk brocade, skirted shape with 220mm slit each side. Centre vent at back. Lined throughout with cream calico…”

And just look what was inside the pocket….

Confetti!

It certainly looks like a coat that a young man might get married in c 1750, but confetti??

The Volunteers describe it as paper confetti, some of it chopped up newspaper. Well, that wouldn’t rule out 1750…

Having used a well known internet search engine, I discover that ‘confetti’ is Italian for almond sweets which the Italians liked to throw at one another at the time of festivals, etc. Sometimes it was also mud balls, eggs or coins…This is a tradition going back to Medieval times when it was also common, at weddings, to throw seeds and grains, representing fertility. I think this has become popular again as vicars try to discourage the littering of their churchyards with paper, or worse still, small bits of plastic.

So, throwing things at people has been ‘fun’ for a long time, but apparently it wasn’t until the end of the nineteenth century that paper confetti was used at weddings in Britain. The confetti in the photograph is not contemporary with the coat.

Did someone wear it to a much later wedding? Was the coat worn in a play where confetti was used? Was it worn to an up-market fancy dress party where confetti played a part?

Whatever the case, it is a great coat to get married in…..

Thank you Sue Alleby, Muriel Reading, Joan Moore and Helen Carlett