The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

This is a simple furnishing fringe of bright purple silk. It would have been used to trim curtains or upholstered furniture. It would have been a very popular trimming in the 1860s because of its colour, and is likely to have been used with both plain silk damasks and more flamboyant multi-coloured silk furnishings.

Trimmings of all kinds were important for the furnishing of the middle class home. Fringes, in particular, were popular for attaching to the edges of embroidered accessories, such as cushions and for the tops of footstools.

This fringe is an example of the use of the first artificial dye, a purple, first made and patented in 1856. The dye was discovered by William Perkin while experimenting with quinine and soon became known as 'Perkin's mauve'. Following this discovery, from the 1860s a wide range of bright chemical dyes of many colours flooded the market.

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  • Title: Fringe
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1860/1880
  • Location: England
  • Provenance: Given by F. C. Harper
  • Medium: Silk