Two local collectors will share their personal treasures with the public during the Gregg County Historical Museum’s next exhibit, “Fashion & Photography: 1860-1890,” which opens Tuesday.
“You never know who in town collects what,” said Lindsay Loy, executive director of the Gregg County Historical Museum.
Loy, who also is the former director of the Harrison County Historical Museum, said this exhibit formed after two former board members of the Harrison County museum told her about collections their wives had — clothing and daguerreotypes — a type of early commercial photography — and lithographs.
Shanna Duck, a former museum director, and her husband Stephen Duck, have a variety of items in their collections, including women’s and children’s clothing from the 1800s to about the turn of the century.
“I had loved this ever since I was a child,” she said, adding she made her first historical costume when she was 15 or 16 years old. “I started studying this stuff before I was in high school.”
She began collecting women’s and children’s clothing in 2002 and now has some 200 pieces. Duck’s collection is rare, Loy said.
Duck said she’s attracted to the “elegance” of clothing from that period.
“And the fact that someone actually made that and wore it — it’s still here and they’re not,” Duck said.
Sewing machines didn’t become “middle class” until after the Civil War, she explained, and women were expected to be much more accomplished at sewing than women today. Dresses in her collection include garments with lining and boning, jackets and intricate lace.
“People didn’t have as many clothes,” Duck said. “If you were middle class or above, you took great pains with your clothing.”
She has some pieces made of silk, but Duck said silk does not fare as well as it ages. It tends to shred, she said.
“Cotton or linen tend to do really well,” she said, as does wool.
Duck’s clothing pieces will be paired with Glenda Moore’s daguerreotype and lithograph collection for the exhibit. Daguerreotype was an early commercial photographic process that used copper plates. The daguerreotypes will show photos of actual people wearing the kinds of dresses in Duck’s collection.