Happy (almost) Birthday to the Charleston Museum!!


Happy Birthday Charleston Museum! January 12 marks the museum’s 239th birthday – founded in 1773. The original curators were Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Dr. Alexander Baron and Dr. Peter Fayssoux. To celebrate this occasion, we present several textiles that relate to these notable figures.

Salmon pink silk dress, worn by Eliza Lucas Pinckney – the mother of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. This dress dates to the 1760s-1770s, and is a beautiful example of the elegance and prosperity the Pinckney family enjoyed here. It is said to be the dress she wore when presented at court in London. Eliza (c. 1722-1793) was the daughter of George Lucas, Lt. Governor of Antigua and owner of several plantations here. She married Judge Charles Pinckney in 1744 and her first son, Charles Cotesworth, was born in 1746.

Unfortunately in very fragile condition, this dress of “bricked” fabric (a damask-like pattern), has a sack back (robe à la Française or Watteau gown) and matching underskirt or petticoat. The open front has flamboyant ruching as do the ¾ length ruffled sleeves.

Man’s silk vest, worn by Thomas Heyward, Jr. when he was presented at court. The blue and silver striped fabric is enhanced by the striking rhinestone buttons down the front. It laces in the back for proper fit.

Thomas was born in1746, the son of Daniel Heyward. His first wife was Elizabeth Matthews (married in 1773) and four years after her death in 1782, he married Elizabeth Savage.

Whitework lambrequin or dresser scarf, made by Elizabeth Savage, the second wife of Thomas Heyward, Jr.  Elizabeth (c. 1765-1833) was the daughter of Thomas Savage and Mary Elliott Butler.

This quilted cotton textile would have been very stylish in the late 18th and early 19th century. The cornucopia design was created in backstitch, then stuffed through the backing for a raised effect. It is quilted all over in a diamond pattern and edged on three sides with cotton fringe. It came to the Museum in 1926 from a direct descendant, Selina Heyward Rieman McNamara.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday