Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Protective wear; Duster


Silk, buckram


1880s. Floor-length cream silk duster with dolman sleeves, buttoning to the hem in front and with skirts cut to fit over a bustle.

The coat is made of eight pieces running the full length of the garment: two front panels with a 36.8 cm / 14.5 in. long dart going over the hip, two side-front panels with long gores, two side-back panels ending at the underarm, and two back panels with a center-back seam in the torso that is left open beneath the waist in a 99.1 cm / 39 in. long vent. The front falls loosely and fairly straight from the shoulders, but the back is fitted to the waist and has a waist stay ribbon to hold the garment close to the body. The skirts of the coat are tailored to cover a bustle. The front has nine functional fabric-covered flat buttons, which are paired with nine decorative buttons to appear double-breasted, and a pointed collar.

The dolman sleeves are both a covering for the arms and functionally the top part of the side panels. They have two seams, and are sewn normally to the scye at the front and over the top of the shoulder, but then become part of the seam to the back panel to the waist. They are left free above the side-back panel, and have an opening along the lower seam of the sleeve. Large cuffs finish them. The wearer would have had to leave her elbows close to the body; it would have been impossible to raise the arms while wearing this garment.

The fabric is very thin and has no lining. The front opening, collar, vent, and cuffs are stiffened with buckram. The coat would have been worn specifically to envelop the dress worn beneath to protect it from the dust and grime of traveling. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Shoulder: 12.1 cm / 4.75 in.
Sleeve: 58.4 cm / 23 in.
Hem: 236.2 cm / 93 in.
Length (skirt in back): 99.1 cm / 39 in.


Gift of Mary Pepperrell Ffrost Sawyer. Worn by the donor’s mother-in-law, Susan Cowan Sawyer.

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.

Ffrost-Sawyer_history.pdf (75 kB)
Ffrost-Sawyer history


Women's coats, Tourist coats, Dust-cloaks, Dust-coats, 1880s, Dover, New Hampshire, United States, Dolman sleeves, Cuffs, Bustle, Darts, Vent, Waist stay ribbon, Fabric-covered buttons, Decorative buttons, Pointed collar, Buckram, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Ffrost Sawyer (donor), Ffrost (donor), Frost (donor)


item origin