Spotlight: The Victorian Era

The reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901 defines the Victorian era of British history. That’s nearly the whole of the 19th century!

When we sell items that we reference as being Victorian, it often just means that it’s from the mid to late 1800s, not that it’s necessarily from England. We’ve sold dresses, jackets, buttons, jewelry, and more. These are quality antique pieces that are very beautiful and highly collectible. As the years pass by us, older antiques are lost or destroyed, so plenty of collectors try to hold onto them for as long as possible. Many of these items are more than 150 years old and need to be looked after!

Victoria had a long reign as queen, so while Victorian fashion was not static, it is fairly easy to pick out the typical characters of this era.

  • Dresses were long, layered, and with narrow waists and bell-shaped skirts. Corsets were common.
  • Women wore large hats, often covered in feathers or flowers. Bonnets were popular as well.
  • Men usually wore waistcoats, vests, tailcoats, and trousers with a top hat to finish it off.
  • The American Civil War occurred between 1861 and 1865 and falls under this category. Therefore, any military clothes, weapons, or accessories can also be considered Victorian.
  • Cameos, while not always Victorian in nature, were extremely popular during this period.
  • Better techniques in glassmaking were developed at this time in history, so there was a rise in glass stones (instead of precious or semi-precious stones) that made jewelry more affordable.
  • In 1861, Prince Albert died and Queen Victoria went into mourning. Black was the “in” color and all of England followed her example. That’s why when you think of the Victorian era, black parasols, black dresses, and black jewelry often come to mind.

Here are a few examples of the items that we’ve come across:

This is called a mourning or piano shawl. It’s handmade and is probably 100% silk.

This is a Victorian piece of ephemera – a card to be exact. It’s always fun to see what’s written inside.

This is a pretty typical jacket from this period it time.

here are some beautiful glass Victorian buttons.

Is the Victorian era one of your favorites in terms of fashion? Have you come across any similar treasures?


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