Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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James Littlefield

Date Created



Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Main garments for the upper body; Vests




March 26, 1907. Man's double-breasted white and cream basket-weave silk vest.

The vest is made with six pieces: two front panels of basket-weave silk, each made with a main front panel and a partial overlap added to the center seam, and two back panels of cream silk twill with a center-back seam. At the hem the front is cut straight across at the waist, and in back the panels curve up toward the center to a 2.54 cm / 1 in. high peak at the seam. The vest is double-breasted with a diagonal overlap 17.7 cm / 7 in. wide at the base of the lapels and 9.5 cm / 3.75 in. at the hem. The front opening is 17.7 cm / 7 in. high. There are three cream shell buttons and three buttonholes at the opening of both right and left front panels, with only one column of buttons visible when worn. The right lapel has an additional button with its matching buttonhole hidden beneath the lapel of the left side. The vest has a V-shaped neckline measuring 43.2 cm / 17 in. from the shoulder seam to the top of the front opening, finished with a notched collar in the front only and lapels. There are two pockets on the left side and two on the right, and one interior pocket on the right. The vest can be adjusted with a belt sewn in at the side seams in back over small godets.

The vest has a full cream silk lining. A label stamped “Littlefield Boston” with hand-written “Richard Coe Mar. 26/07” is sewn to the underside of one of the adjusting belts, implying that the vest was purchased four days before its owner wore it to get married on March 30, 1907. The man who made it, James Littlefield, began in the merchant tailoring business in 1877, incorporating in 1912, and like Coe had deep roots in the area. His ancestor, Edmond Littlefield, emigrated to Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1639. Through his wife, Lora Perkins, Littlefield was related to Henry Sherburne (who arrived in present-day Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1632) and Major Charles Frost (who settled in present-day Eliot, Maine on the Piscataqua River in 1636). Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Chest: 96.5 cm / 38 in.
Hem: 86.4 cm / 34 in.
Side seam: 22.2 cm / 8.75 in.
Back length: 43.2 cm / 17 in.


Gift of Serena Paine Hurlbert, worn by the donor’s father, Richard E. Coe (1866-1934), at his Hyde Park, Massachusetts wedding to Sarah Crapo Tappan (1873-1961) on March 30, 1907. The couple later returned to the Coe family home in Durham, New Hampshire.

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License


The Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection digital catalog was produced by the UNH Library Digital Collection Initiative, supported in part by a grant from the Mooseplate program and New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Additional funding provided by the E. Ruth Buxton Stephenson Memorial Fund.
Photography copyright, Astrida Schaeffer.

Pickering_and_Coe_History.pdf (60 kB)
Pickering and Coe history


Men's vests, Waistcoats, Wedding vests, Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 1907, Double-breasted, Basket-weave silk, Silk twill, White (color), Cream (color), Shell buttons, Lapels, Notched collar, Pockets, Belts (costume accessories), Godets, Silk lining, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Paine Hurlbert (donor)


item origin