Clothes for Women

Inventory number
House of Thomson & Co (American, ca 1856 -?)
Cage crinoline made out of spring steel wire hoops.

Introduced in 1856, the cage crinoline offered a lighter-weight alternative to the many layers of petticoats previously used to support the voluminous bell-shaped skirts of the era, yet the new understructure did not make the style any less unwieldy. 

Although the cage crinoline revived and reinterpreted the 18th-century hoop skirt, and its name derived from the stiff horsehair (French: crin) petticoats that preceded it, the markings at the back waist of this particular example attest to the cage crinoline’s modern, industrial manufacture. This was an understructure that was engineered rather than tailored, and its label bears the name of the first Frenchman to patent the form, R. C. MILLIET of Besançon; The printed label also names Thomson, the leading crinoline manufacturer of the 1850s and 1860s. The brothers W. S. and C. H. THOMSON operated crinoline factories in England and continental Europe, but their company’s reputation was firmly associated with American industry, which perhaps explains this French-made crinoline’s special designation as a “Jupe-Cage Américaine.”
circa 1856 Great Britain