I have been contacted by a number of people involved in re-enactment interested in the historical costume tassels I have been creating for 17th Century falling band collars and the like. I have now created entirely new, more authentic models and I’m going to list these permanently on my website.
In the 17th and 18th Century when actually washing was not something people often did, wearing spotless white linen was a mark of your cleanliness, as well as a way of showing off your wealth. Large white collars worn by men featured intricate lace and also elaborate knotted tassels.
I have really enjoyed researching and creating the four tassel models I have settled on. I have used fine cotton thread for these examples to match the intricate lace of the collars they will be matched with – linen thread is another option.
If you’d like to order a pair of these tassels, please see my period costume page.
Working on these has really made me think about the incredibly fine work our ancestors did – and by candlelight too! Here are some original 17th Century collar tassels:
I’ve found myself paying a lot of attention to the collars in period drama lately.
The BBC’s recent The Musketeers adaptation, set in the 1630s, is costumically dreadful in may ways, and features a shocking lack of white collars – indeed any white linen at all – throughout:
Compare that to this 1648 painting of the Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster by Bartholomeus van der Helst, showing a fine array of contemporary collars. Spot the tassels! (click to enlarge)
The Versailles series, based at the court of Louis XIV, also currently on the BBC, features some lovely costumes (it’s the hair that I find upsetting), but I can’t help thinking “could do better” as far as tassels go…
Here we have Colbert and the Marquis de Louvois in a scene set in 1715.
These guys need bigger wigs, and bigger tassels with more texture!
Anyway, anyone involved in re-enactment, theatrical productions, etc looking for historical costume tassels, please take a look at my range and let me know if you think I can help!