can you talk about Sumner and lace?
So Charles Sumner was an expert on lace. I don’t know when exactly it became a subject of interest to him, or why it did, aside from the aesthetic I suppose. But he was, for all intents and purposes, a lace expert. So much so that women would literally go to him asking him to assess the quality and value of the lace they had/wanted to buy. And he was right, every time.
According to one of his secretaries, a woman tried to confuse him by asking him about the quality of her recent purchases, but instead of being a traditional guy and not knowing anything, he ended up telling her that “her specimens were vastly rarer, older, and more valuable than she was aware. He fixed the age, the kind, the quality and the name by reference to certain pictures… and he identified them with the picture by their peculiar mesh.” [Scribners Monthly, Nov 1874]
She was so flabbergasted that he knew more about lace than she did that when she talked about the encounter later she said “I attempted to play the teacher and found myself a scholar.”