Friday, May 1, 2009

Pink Saturday #3 - A Very Special Dress


Welcome to our third Pink Saturday. Pink Saturday is hosted by Beverly at this location. Be sure to click on the link (or the picture to the right) to go to her blog and see a list of the other participants in this weeks Pink Saturday.

I liken myself, as a dealer in a shop such as A Classy Flea, very much to a treasure hunter. Sure, my first goal is to find enough “stuff” that someone else will want to buy at a price that allows me to resell it and make a profit. But what really keeps me going is that, through much hard work and perseverance, every once in a while I DO find a real treasure. You can ask any dealer in our shop, and probably 99.9% of dealers in shops like ours around the world, why they do this and the response will be the same: “It’s the thrill of the hunt!” Most of you readers know the chill that runs through the body when you are browsing through your favorite thrift store, outlet store, or a sale at your favorite retailer, and find that perfect thing that you weren’t even looking for at a price that’s more of a ‘steal’ than a ‘deal’!

My wife and I were strolling through an Estate Sale in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, not too far from the shop. The lady who lived in the house had recently passed away at the age of 106! She was obviously a very well-to-do woman and a world traveler. Even though we primarily search for furniture and decorative accessories at these kinds of sales, we were both drawn to a side bedroom that was filled with vintage clothes and hats. We bought all 36 hats and several nice outfits. The one thing my wife wanted that I was hesitant about was a large white box that held what was obviously a very old wedding dress. Someone had tried there best to protect the dress, storing it inside-out, but is was a total loss. The raw silk was in such bad shape that any that remained crumbled at the slightest touch. But what attracted my wife to the box were some of the accessories: gloves, collars, hankies and the such. Needless to say, that box came home with us along with all of those hats (and a few treasures for me, too).

The OMG moment came when we carefully unpacked the box to sort out all of the accessories and take a better look at the dress. Packed along with the wedding dress was another dress that we now believe was probably the bride’s debutante dress. A long flowing bustle skirt topped by a tiny top with huge balloon sleeves (please click on each of the pictures to see a larger view!):

Click to enlargeHere’s a shot of the top over the back of the skirt.

Click to enlarge Zoomed in on the top.

Just take a look at the design in the fabric…
Click to enlarge

and the detail around the hem…
Click to enlarge

Remember the lady who’s estate this came from? We have evidence that this dress belonged to her mother-in-law, who would have been 16 years old in 1890, the approximate time-frame for this outfit.

Let’s take a closer look at the skirt:

Click to enlarge Just look at that skinny waist and the wrapped buttons!

Click to enlarge Hand-made button holes and look at that hook and loop!

Click to enlarge No, it’s not perfect but it is MARVELOUS!

Click to enlargeHere’s a view from the front, draped on a hanger. You can imagine what the profile would look like with a proper bustle in place.

ps3-09 Yes, there are a few foxing stains.

Click to enlarge A closer look at the hem detail, inside and out.

Click to enlarge Isn’t this lace amazing?

Click to enlarge Seam detail

Click to enlarge Ruffle detail

How about the top, you might ask. It’s just as stunning if not more so, as you can see here.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge A close-up of the right sleeve detail…

Click to enlarge and the left sleeve.

Click to enlarge The lace collar has seen better days!

Here’s a view of the back:Click to enlarge Just look at how much it has been brought in around the waist!

Click to enlarge Similar collar condition problems in the back.

Click to enlarge Center – Back detail

Click to enlarge Here you can get an idea of the craftsmanship that went into this piece! I can only imagine the hours invested.

Click to enlarge Funny thing is, I hadn’t even noticed the sewing detail on the hooks until I was reviewing the pictures for this post!

Click to enlarge … the loops.

Click to enlarge Seven stays!

The box also had the original cummerbund!Click to enlarge
I know what you’re thinking… it you only had the shoes. Well…
Click to enlarge

As you can imagine, there are a number of condition problems with the shoes. I think it’s amazing that they’re even there!
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Yes, I believe those ARE the original stretchers! Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge The bows are still tied!

Here are some dimensions to help you visualize size:

Length from hook to loop: 22-1/4”

Waist: Difficult to measure.
Length (front): 38”
Length (back): 48”
Hem: about 120” (10 feet) around!

Waist: 22”
Length (back): 16”
Bust: Couldn’t measure because of the sleeves.

Length: 9-1/4" Toe to heel
Width: 2-1/2" across widest part of sole!

When it comes to antiques, provenance is everything. Going back to the estate sale, it was at the estate of Mrs. Albert Worth Hobby, Jr. She died in 2008 at the age of 106. That would have put her birth year in 1902. Her husband’s father was Albert Worth, Sr. When I finally got around to discarding the wedding dress, I took the top of the box and put it in place. This is the first time I had noticed the top, as the contents had remained in the box bottom, nestled inside the box top. Here’s what was written on the top of the box:

“Mrs Albert Worth Hobby, Senior’s
wedding dress, slippers, fan, gloves, hose.
Also another dress, slippers, fan, hose
that were in her trousseau.”

When we first looked at the dresses we wondered who they belonged to. Was it the owner of the estate or was it her mother’s?This was the answer we were searching for! It was her husband’s mother’s. This lead me on a search to identify Mrs. Albert Worth Hobby, Sr. Here is a synopsis of what I discovered:

Elizabeth Gooch, born 1874, was the daughter of J.W.M. Gooch and wife, Alice Adams, of Cedar Hill, TN., and the granddaughter of James Gooch and wife, Sarah (Sally)Porter. She died Feb. 4, 1941 in Atlanta, GA. Married Dr. Albert Worth Hobby 1890s-1900 ca. Dr. A.Worth H0bby born July 28, 1872, died September 8, 1924 in Brentwood, TN on property he owned at corner of Granny White Pike & Murray Lane; killed by stroke of lightening. Both A.Worth & Elizabeth are buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, in Sec.22 Lot no.W 1/3 150. They had 2 sons - Dr. A. Worth Hobby, who was a physician, of Atlanta, GA in 1941 and William Francis Hobby, a chemist for TN State Highway Dept in 1941. Albert Jr. went to Vanderbilt University medical school. Albert Jr. had a son, Lovicworth Hobby of Atlanta.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lovic at the estate sale. He is 86 years old, himself!

If you are still reading, I really appreciate your time. I hope I have conveyed the excitement I experienced, not just with the discovery of the dress, but also the revelations during research. Normally, this is where I put our disclaimer in that items shown on our blog are for sale only to our customers who see our items in person. However, I will be posting this dress in our online store next week . You can see our store on Ruby Lane here. Since you will be able to purchase this dress there, I have decided to offer it here, first. If you mention you saw it on the blog, I’ll pay the shipping. Contact us for payment options.

Pink Bustle Dress with Accessories, circa 1890: $795 (SHEL)


  1. Oh My Gosh !! It is absolutely stunning! I can just see her in all her glory wearing such a royal. Wow! Thanks for sharing your awesome find and treasure with us.

  2. WOW! WOWEE WOW WOW WOW! What a marvelous treasure. I can just feel the excitement you and your wife must have been felt to discover the dress and shoes. What a beautiful glimpse in time, thank you for sharing.

  3. Still reading?!! I'm drooling!!!!!

    What a fabulous find; a little out of my price range, but to die for!!

    I know I used a lot of exclamation points, but I'd be screaming if I were there!!

    Have a great day and an even better tomorrow!

  4. Wow, amazing dress. Love that lace and the top is so me....well, at least when I was 16! :)

  5. Wonderful post for this l♥vely Pink Saturday. This is one morning of the week that I sit back, stroll from blog to blog and indulge myself surrounded by my favorite color.

    I wish you a blessed weekend filled with sunshine and surrounded by those you l♥ve.

    I just l♥ve to know the history behind the treasrues I have in my home. Thanks for the good history lesson!

  6. WoW! That is amazing and what a find to have the shoes too! That is sucha piece of History. The cratfmanship that went into it. Plus it is cool to think aobut back in the day of were you not only had to buy the Wedding Dress, but all new things for the honeymoon and to start off your new life right! What fun!Thank you for sharing all that!
    Happy Pink Saturday!

  7. That dress is an absolutely amazing find! Stunning - gorgeous! And the bonus is all the information you were able to discover about the history of it. Loved reading all about it. Happy Pink Saturday!

  8. What a fantastic find, and what a wonderful story. I can see how exciting it was for you to discover it - and discover all the facts behind it. I love stories like this, and it's similar to some of the stories I've started writing on my blog about my family. You're absolutely right about it being "the thrill of the hunt" - whether with objects or information, it's always so exciting.

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful Pink Saturday post!

  9. What an amazing dress! Thank you so much for sharing it and the history. It was fascinating!

    Happy PINK Saturday! ♥ Diane

  10. Wow, what an amazing find! I LOVE hearing the history behind it.

    Happy Pink Saturday!

  11. Thanks for sharing your amazing find! Warm wishes, Esther

  12. Wow, I am so glad I visited your post today. I am thrilled for you with the found treasure. Being a retired antique dealer, I can truly feel what you were feeling when this lovely pink dress etc. were found. We never lose the thrill of the hunt. Congrats and best wishes on the sale of the dress.


  13. What an exquisite little treasure!

    Having worked as a costumer, I've built costumes including corsets and bodices constructed like this one - I don't know HOW unskilled people were able to do it at home! It's not easy - and it takes forever, because so very much of it has to be hand done. And in those days, fabric didn't come in the 45" width we're used to buying today!

    Lovely post.

    HaPpY PiNk SaTuRdAy!

  14. What a wonderful post. That dress is beautiful and what an amazing history you uncovered. I can't help but feel sad that no one in the family wanted it.

  15. Running late this week visiting blogs....Hope you had a Happy Pink Saturday ~ Susan

  16. Gorgeous dress! Just beautiful! Thanks for the background info!

  17. Absolutely awesome post! What a find! It was wonderful reading all the history you had uncovered about this beautiful outfit!
    Also, wanted to let you know that We Bloom Girls just passed a Blog Award on to you and you can pick it up over on our site at

    We enjoy your blog! Have a great week!


    Karyn & Nola

  18. Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed reading your blog and the photos.


  19. I just want to point out that I could not get my thign in the waist of that skirt!! I can just imagine what a teenie thing she was!

    Great post! GREAT finds!

    Lou Cinda :)