When we were hired to sell the contents of a Monson, MA estate the estate administrator told me that he was planning to throw out the old clothing. Fortunately, a friend advised him not to. The Victorian clothing that almost ended up in a dumpster brought over $2,000 at auction.
Another estate we handled was full of Victorian and Edwardian era clothing. Queen Victoria ruled from 1837 to 1901. Edward VII was king from 1901 to 1910. However, the period from 1901 to 1915 is typically considered Edwardian for antique clothing, jewelry, etc. Victorian antiques don’t necessarily follow the timeline of Queen Victoria’s reign according to some sources. Some sources consider Victorian antiques to have begun in the 1830’s through 1840’s and some show the time period ending in the 1890’s.
The Vintage Fashion Guild provides a look at how Victorian era fashion changed each decade. 1840-1850 saw a Gothic influence. The hoop skirt became popular from 1850-1860. During the next decade the hoop evolved from round to oval in 1864. 1870-1880 saw natural shoulder design with a smaller hoop near the feet. 1880-1890 saw dresses made of sturdier fabric like wool, velvet and satin. Bustles which had been popular began to fade in 1889. In 1900 to 1910 skirts were elongated to form a train.
The estate we handled also contained linen from the early 1800’s and 19th and 20th century quilts. Quilts were often created by women when their families prepared to travel west as the country expanded. Fortunately for local historians and collectors many quilts remained in New England.
Many of the same factors that we take into account with other antiques apply to vintage clothing, linen and quilts. Condition is important. Stains and tears can make valuable pieces worthless. Older pieces are typically worth more but not always. Finer, more intricate workmanship with better eye appeal will increase value. The items from the estate with the vintage clothing and linen brought well over $10,000 at auction with some dresses selling in the $100’s and some quilts bringing over $500.
Old Sturbridge Village has offered days where the public could have quilts evaluated. Historical data was gathered on the quilts that were brought there. If you are interested in learning more about quilts, the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA has changing exhibits from the 18th and 19th century to modern quilts.
Famous designers are important with antique and vintage pieces as well. Steamer trunks are pretty common and typically don’t sell very well. A Louis Vuitton trunk is different though. A Louis Vuitton trunk brought nearly $3,500 at one of our 2006 auctions.
Although we’ve focused on antique and vintage clothing, there are more modern pieces that can be very valuable. Vintage Levis and Air Jordan sneakers in exceptional condition can be very desirable. Much newer Hermes and other designer handbags can sell for thousands.
We will be running an estate sale in Leicester on Saturday October 10th. We are still preparing for a large online antique auction at a Shrewsbury, MA location. Preview will be on October 24th and 25th with bidding ending on October 28th. Keep following us on the web at www.centralmassauctions.com or read this column for more details on these and other events.
Contact us at: Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser Central Mass Auctions for Antique Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services www.centralmassauctions.com (508-612- 6111), firstname.lastname@example.org