This cap back formed part of a headdress, known as a ‘lace head’ in the 18th century. It was composed of a curved panel, the cap back, to which two long streamers were attached, called lappets. The whole ensemble was finished with a lace frill. The lappets might be pinned up on top of the head in pleats, but more usually were left to hang loose, fluttering with the slightest movement.
Among the various items of Englishwomen’s fashionable dress for which lace was used in the 18th century, the lace head was a particular focus for the display of wealth and taste. The quality of the lace, the excellence of its design and fine workmanship, and thus its likely expense, would be immediately apparent to observers.