This stay is American and likely dates to the second or third quarter of the 18th century (circa 1730-1775). It is similar to others I have seen of the period with the cream silk damask front section.
* Corsets of the early 19th century and earlier were commonly referred to as a stay, stays, set of stays or pair of stays and other variations in other languages.
This stay is fully boned (there are no gaps at all between the bone channels) with hand cut strips of baleen (whalebone). Completely hand sewn with what appears to be a backstitch on the boning channels and seams. The tear at the upper right front reveals that the front section is constructed from three layers of heavy natural colored linen beneath the silk damask face (there may be more that I cannot see and I will not dissect). The rest of the stay seems to be made of two layers of stiff heavy natural linen beneath the finer gold colored linen face. Stay is cut with of a total of seven panels. Each panel was fully boned and constructed separately then attached together at the seams. Seams are backstitched and the seam allowance is held open on the inside with a large whip stitch. Each seam is covered in a narrow tape on the exterior.
Stay's edges are bound in a thin cream leather. The bottom front has a wider leather binding which may be a later repair. I do find it odd that the leather at the bottom center front is sewn through for the front few bone casings. There may have been some sort of lining on the interior of the tabs once since there appears to be some un-occupied stitch holes. The waist line of the side and back panels is reinforced with a wide band of linen.
The interior of the front panel’s lower abdomen area is reinforced with a large patch containing numerous layers of starched linen as well as a wide tight strap which holds the corset away from the body a bit. (see photo where my hand is placed inside it). I feel that this is a significant clue as to it’s date and suspect the corset dates more towards the second quarter of the 18th century because of it.
Corset is spiral laced with 10 hand sewn eyelets per side. Several of the eyelets are pulling/ripping from use. Measurements of the actual garment: 34″ Bust 26.5″ Waist 12.5″ Center front length 15.25″ Center back length
*** So here is what I think about that controversial and odd little strap across the belly. It reminds me of the earlier stays where the center front of the stay (and only the center front itself) was intentionally bowed out with a ridge like the front of a ship. This strap causes that effect yet only slightly and at the bottom. It is definitely done deliberately and only slightly in the controlled area. What it seems to accomplish is maintaining a straight line in the silhouette of the wearer and eliminate the curve inward that would result if it were not there. The stays I have seen that had that (although more to the extreme) were late 17th and early 18th century. I think this is the last remnant of that style of shaping. This is why I lean towards 1740-50 as possible dates for this stay.
What do you think? I would love any input any of you have out there!
I do not make stays very often, it is incredibly hard on the fingers.