Everyone loves a great costume, and those living at the end of the 19th century were no exception. American history, especially the Revolutionary War, became very popular after the Centennial in 1876. This interest in history is reflected in one of my favorite museum pieces I unearthed in the men’s clothing collection.
This is a replica of a Washington Continental Guard Uniform from the Revolutionary War. As I went through the collection I kept finding pieces of this costume, 16 pieces in all, from the coat and vest shown here to a hat, wig, stockings and even garters!
There was no date in the database for the costume, so I was elated when I turned over the belt on the back of the vest and found a makers label from 1897.
Obviously an expensive costume, its numerous pieces, quality materials and subsequent care attest to that. The costume is well tailored especially the vest and coat that a stiched to fit the particular wearer perfectly. But it is not created to be an “authentic” replica of a Revoluntionary War uniform by any means. The lace on the cuffs are sewn on the coat, the buttons are just large flat polish brass, and many of the pockets are false. But it gives the essence of a Continental Guard Uniform, perfect for whatever masquerade ball it was created for!
Replica of a Washington Continental Guard Uniform,1897, Waring, wool, brass, L: 41.5in. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Mrs. William Bowers, N0325.1948(1).