Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from ——— La Hure: Bill for Clothing, [15 November 1779]

From ——— La Hure: Bill for Clothing

DS: University of Pennsylvania

[November 15, 1779]

Mémoire Pour Monsieur franklin Pere

Du 19. fevrier 17793

La façon d’un habit Complet4 de drap de Vigogne 17 l.t.
fourni 3 aus. drap de Vigogne à 90 l.t. 270
4. aus. ¾ Satin pour doubler à 8.5 39 3 9
⅞ toille de Coton pour défaut5 dhabit à 4 3 10
⅞ raz de Castor6 assorti pour le dessus du dos de la veste à 3.10 3 1 3
2 aul. ⅞ molton de Soie7 pour défauts de la veste et le dessus des manches à 3.15 10 15 9
5/6. taffetas de florence pour doubler les manches 5.15 4 16 “
toille et poches dhabit et Veste 1 10
petit panniers8 1
bout de Soie et boucle dacier 10
poches et goussets9 entravers, et doublure des Ceintures 1
352. 6. 9
Du 29. Mars1
La façon dun habit Complet de drap royal 17
fourni 7. aus. drap royal gris bleuté à 15 l.t. 105
5. aus ⅓. Croisé assorti pour doubler les aparans dhabit, basques de devants et de dérieres a la veste et bordures et parmentage de la Culote à 6 32
2. aus. ⅓ toille de Coton pour défaut dhabit et corp de Veste et le dessus des manches de Veste à 4.5 9 18 6
1. aus. Croisé blanc pour doubler les manches de veste 5 15
toille et poches dhabit et Veste 1 10
petit panniers 1
bout de Soie et boucle dacier 10
poches et goussets, toille des Ceintures 1
173 13 6
Du 22. Mai
La façon dun habit Complet de Soie 17
8. aus. ½ royal Couleur de prune de Monsieur à 13 l.t. 110 10
4 aus. taffetas Italie assorti pour doubler à 8 32
3. aus. ¾. toille dauphine pour défaut à 2.5 8 8 9
toille et poches dhabit et Veste 1 10
petit panniers 1
bout de Soie et boucle dacier 10
poches et goussets toille des ceintures et ruban 1 6
172 4 9
Du 4. 8bre.
La façon dun habit complet de drap royal 17 l.t.
7. aus. drap royal pourpré à 15 l.t. 105
5. aus. ⅓ Croisé assorti à 6 32
2. aus. ⅓. toille de Coton fine pour défaut dhabit et Corp de Veste et le dessus des manches de Veste 4.5 l.t. 9 18 6
1. aus. Croisé blanc pour doubler les manches de Veste 5 15
toille et poches dhabit et Veste 1 10
petit panniers 1
bout de Soie et boucle dacier 10
poches et goussets, toille des Ceintures 1
113. 13. 6
Total 871. 18. 6

Recu pour Solde a passy ce 15 9bre 17792

[in another hand:] pour la Hure

Addressed: Mr. Franklin Pere

Notation: Taylor acct Pd—by an Order on Grand

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3One week after BF received his appointment as minister plenipotentiary, he ordered a splendid suit of vicuña cloth, a very soft fabric, usually twilled and napped, made from the wool of the vicuña (akin to the alpaca), or an imitation of it. In this case, at 90 l.t. an aune (about three and a half feet), the wool must have been pure vicuña. Perhaps this was the suit BF wore to present his credentials at Versailles on March 23: XXIX, 252.

4The complete suit included a justaucorps, the coat; a veste, the waistcoat; and a culotte, the breeches. The construction of the habit complet françois ou européen, the most complicated of all, is described under “Tailleur d’habits” in the Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une société de gens de lettres (rev. ed., 36 vols., Geneva, 1779), XXXII, 578–83. See also Norah Waugh, The Cut of Men’s Clothes 1600–1900 (New York, 1964), pp. 56–7, 86–90; and Aileen Ribeiro, Dress in eighteenth-century Europe 1715–1789 (London, 1984), pp. 21–25, 89–92, 140–3. For background and bibliographic information we would like specially to thank Michelle Majors of the Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

5Fabric used to fill in hollows of the body so that the garment will lie properly.

6Probably a fabric of wool and beaver fur made for winter wear. A raz or rash was a cloth of combing and carding wool mixed, and could be close cropped, without a nap, felted, or left shaggy: Florence M. Montgomery, Textiles in America 1650–1870 (New York, 1984), pp. 330–1.

7Molleton de soie would have a napped surface similar to a flannel.

8While most coats no longer had the full front skirts, which required a thin layer of teased-out horsehair or pannier to hold them out, some customers did still like a little pannier, the horsehair coming only halfway down the skirt: Waugh, Cut of Men’s Clothes, pp. 57, 88. BF was evidently among these old-fashioned customers, for all his orders include an entry for pannier. The suit he ordered on March 29 includes “basques de devants et de dérieres,” front skirts as well as back skirts for the waistcoat.

9Breeches came with either two pockets or four, and those with four had two goussets, or pockets in the waistband: Encyclopédie, XXXII, 583.

1Although exhausted and disabled by the ceremony at Versailles on March 23, BF was up again a week later ordering another suit, probably for what would now be weekly appearances at court. See XXIX, 191n, 627n.

2Angenend presented another another bill on Oct. 27, 1780, for clothes ordered between Dec. 28, 1779, and Aug. 21, 1780. The December order was for a velvet suit, four pairs of underclothes, two in dimity, two in cretonne. For his domestics BF ordered three of the more fashionable frock suits, with sleeves “à la marinière,” having a small round cuff with a vertical flap, slightly scalloped and edged with three or four buttons (Ribeiro, Dress in eighteenth-century Europe, pp. 91, 92). The breeches were lined in chamois. WTF’s account of family expenses for Jan. 7 shows that BF also purchased hats for the servants from Aury, the hatter: Account XXIII, XXIX, 3. For himself he ordered two morning waistcoats with open sleeves. On April 1 he ordered a complete suit in velvet, “couleur merde doie,” like puce, one of the muted colors favored in the late part of the century: Waugh, Cut of Men’s Clothes, p. 56. On April 21, the day after Louis began eleven days of mourning for the duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (Gaz. de Leyde, May 2, 1780), BF ordered a black velvet suit, trimmed and lined in black. For the etiquette governing court mourning see Almanach de Versailles for 1780, pp. 312–13; Ribeiro, Dress in eighteenth-century Europe, pp. 138–9. A puce suit of pekin, a silk woven in alternate satin and velvet stripes (Montgomery, Textiles in America, p. 319), was ordered for WTF on June 16 and on Aug. 21, for BF a complete suit in silk “Velouté glacé.”

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