Monday, 20 September 2010

Dickins & Jones Specialite Riding Corset

Along with riding side saddle, I also collect antique and vintage clothing and sometimes come across old items of riding costume such as this Dickins & Jones Specialite side saddle riding corset from 1901...

I know longer have the corset in my collection having sold it to pay for the Wykham pad on my old side saddle but please feel free to read the history of such a rare item from our sport.

C.1901. An early Edwardian white coutil riding corset made in Bruxelles expressly for the London firm Dickins & Jones Ltd. of Regent street. The firm is still trading in London and during the Edwardian era, they were the sole retailers of the Specialite corset in England although sole agents for the Specialite corset were found in places as far away as Calcutta!

A 1901 advertisement from The Queen magazine states that the "Specialite corset is made of the best materials, best sewing and perfect finish" and fitted throughout with REAL WHALEBONE (busks and side steels excepted). All this quality and workmanship came at a price and Specialite corsets were on the pricey side ranging in price from 16 shillings and 6 pence (about £47.00 in 2010) to 29 shillings and 6 pence. The price of one corset was most often more than what most working class people earned in one week but is remarkably cheap to to our 2010 eyes!

The top of the corset is decorated with a 3" band of cotton lace with two rows of creme silk baby ribbon inserts. Although the corset has the required diagonal seaming for Edwardian S-bend corsets, the corset utilizes a curved busk rather than a straight busk. A curved busk would have made side saddle riding most comfortable as the bottom curve of the busk allows the displaced flesh from the stomach, somewhere to go. The hips of the corset are cut high to allow for the correct leg position while riding.

"Dickins & Jones" is stamped on each busk loop. Each bone casing is flossed with creme silk thread. The inside of the corset has "Dickins & Jones LTD", "The Specialite Corset Regd. Made in Bruxelles" along with "Real Whalebone" and "Riding" all stamped in blue ink on the bone casings.

Measurements: Bust 29", Waist 19", Hips 25", Busk length 11".

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