Textiles

Vest

Vests of either blue of “drab” were common among Shaker bothers.

Elder Henry C. Blinn at Canterbury wrote: “In 1832, the drab vest, which had been largely in use since 1810, was partially displaced by the introduction of a fine blue. While this color was generally used in the summer, the drab was retained for us in the winter.

Blue seems to have been a favorite color for the summer … For inteer use the blue was laid aside in 1840 and drab was established as the uniform color for ests, and continued to be used till 1854, when blue was again introduced.”

Information
  • 25 ¼ x 19 ¾ x 1”
  • Dark blue wool, light blue glazed lining of linen or cotton
  • Accession Number: 1950.3537.1

Elder Henry is likely speaking of the wearing of vests for Shaker meeting and not the practice for everyday use.

It is clear from visitors’ descriptions and visiting artists and reporters that the Shaker brethren were clad in distinctive blue vest. Benson J. Lossing, during an 1856 visit to Mount Lebanon’s public meeting described the brethren. “Their Sunday costume of pantaloons of blue linen, with a fine white stripe in it; vests of a much deeper blue, nd plain, made of linsey-woolsey. Stout calf-skin shoes and gray stockings.”

This vest has the initials, “E. M.” cross-stiched in its lining at the back of where the neck would rest. It is a most pleasant thought that “E. M.” might belong to Elijah Myrick, an Elder and Trustee at the Harvard community.

Explore