" MISS BROWN
HAVING just received a large assortment of BONNETS AND BONNET MATERIALS requests the attention of the public, hoping she will be able to accommodate those coming from a distance as they can be suited at once to their taste... Silk SCARFS, Blue, Brown and Black VEILS, Dress Caps and Head Dresses, Bride's Wreaths, Artificial Flowers, Gloves, Ribbons, Ladies' Belts, Ladies' Black and Grey Cloth Mantles, Eugenie Collars, etc. Particular attention paid to Mourning Goods. Families supplied at short notice. As Miss B. intends to continue the business she will endeavor to merit the patronage of the public by attention and promptitude. Orders sent by mail will receive particular attention." [Casket , 11 February 1858]
"...and over their head a large silk handkerchief, which must be put on with great exactness and care to make just as many folds at the sides, with a huge knot under the chin; while the point at the back hangs below the neck and generally has one or more initials neatly worked in colors in the corner." [Aurora, 2 September 1884]
"LADIES' SAILOR HATS--Be sure you get the correct style of ladies' sailor hats, as you will see by the fashion books the new sailors are all 2 3/4 inch brim and about 3 inch crown in height. The crowns are made larger than last year. McCurdy & Co. have all the new styles in these as well as all other lines of millinery.--adv." [Casket, 4 May 1899]
Comments: Judging by its simplicity of style and lack of ornamentation, this machine-made cotton bonnet is an indoor cap, and is most likely a nightcap. Nightcaps, which were worn up to the 1880s, were quite plain and closely hugged the head, usually with a drawstring across the back. In the 19th century, most women wore caps to bed to protect their sheets and pillowcases from the macassar oil and bear fat pomades which ladies put in their hair to add lustrous shine. Nightcaps were also common in periods when wigs were fashionable as they were used to protect shaved heads. This particular cap is utilitarian rather than ornamental. Although starting to yellow, it is in excellent condition.
Comments: This machine-made cotton bonnet, with its fine stitching and lace trim, is most likely an indoor cap, probably a dust cap which was commonly worn in the home to protect women's hair from dust and soot. It also served to contain women's hair while they were doing housework.
Comments: Unlike the other two
bonnets, this machine-made cotton bonnet is more decorative
and was designed to be worn outdoors. The bonnet bears a
strong resemblance to a mutch, a bonnet worn by older, married
Scottish women in Eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, when they went to church or performed their
daily tasks. In Scotland, hats were quite rare except in
church, where peasant women wore their white caps or mutches,
which were usually covered by a tartan shawl in bad weather.
Mutches varied from very fine bonnets with lace inserts or
embroidered eyelet work and coloured ribbons to very simple,
everyday bonnets or nightcaps. Women often carried special
boxes in which to keep their mutches, which they would put
on before reaching church or the homes of friends they might be visiting.
This bonnet came from the MacPhee household in Lochaber.
The MacPhees emigrated from Scotland and settled in Lochaber
The bonnet was the dominant headgear for women in the early 19th century. By the late 19th century the bonnet shrank, the chin ties disappeared and the small hat-bonnet of the late Victorians took its place. The bonnet lost its appeal to the fashionable crowd, particularly to younger women who abandoned the bonnet when it became relegated to a special section in trade catalogues headed "Old Ladies and Nurses' Bonnets".