Date: c. 1902
Origin: United States
Fabric: Cotton bobbinet tulle, ‘English netting’
Brand: Langdon Batcheller’s Genuine Thomson’s Glove Fitting
The incredibly lightweight construction of this corset suggests that it was intended for wear in hot or humid climates. The single layer of ‘English net’ (a cotton tulle) was strong enough to support and shape the body, whilst offering much more breathability and flexibility of movement than a standard corset.
The pattern for this corset is rather unusual, as it relies on three main horizontal panels with an additional bust dart for shaping. Seams are taped over with a cotton twill tape for re-enforcement, with a cotton twill waist tape running through the centre line of the garment.
The corset is boned entirely with steel bones, ranging in thickness from 3mm to 10mm. The bones all appear to be flat steel, and although quite flexible, don’t over the same range of movement as spiral steel wires. This is evident through the number of bones that have snapped and penetrated the exterior fabric.
All bones are encased in exterior channels of herringbone weave cotton coutil. This same coutil is used to encase the centre front busk and the rear lacing panel. The front busk has 4 loops and pins, with the loops engraved with the brand name ‘L. B. CO.’; such engravings were commonplace on mass manufactured corsets. Each of the back lacing panels has a row of one-piece eyelets encased between two flat steel bones. The original corset laces have sadly been lost, so contemporary cotton laces were used for these photographs.
The top and bottom edges of the corset are bound in a narrow cotton tape, overlaid with a decorative cotton lace trim on the garment exterior that has been machine lockstitched in place. There is a hand repair on the top right edge of the corset, with a layer of white cotton fabric stitched over the top binding, presumably to re-enforce the garment where bones have torn through the original fabric.
The waist tape of the garment features a number of stamps, though some have sadly worn away too much to decipher. From left to right, the stamps state ‘Thomson’s Corsets’ / [illegible, potentially size or style numbers] / [Langdon Batcheller’s Genuine Thomson’s Glove Fitting’ / ‘Made Of English Netting’.
The ‘Thomson’s Glove Fitting’ range of corsets was heavily advertised, offering an exceptional fit, supposedly akin to custom made gloves. This particular style was promoted for its ‘traverse seams running around the body’, which supposedly ‘evades all strain’ and offers a ‘perfect fit for all figures’.
The Met Museum has a number of Langdon Batcheller Co. corsets within its collections. This corset also appears to have a very similar construction to this object.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska