Don't you ever wonder why things aren't handcrafted like they used to be? I suppose with all the advancement in technology people are too distracted to settle into a rocker and stitch beads for hours. Perhaps that was the key to contentment and a simple life.
When I look at the Jet Black beaded things from the Victorian era I always wonder what woman wore them, and the pride with which she cherished that article. It used to bug me when I worked for Vintage stores that customers would want a discount on something older then anyone in their family. They would act like it's age made it less valuable and damaged. I guess that the "Hollywood way" has rubbed off on them (meaning people in this town put youth on a pedestal and despise signs of a life well lived) We used to have this Victorian dress at the shop that looked like treasure discovered in an ancient Egyptian tomb or at the floor of the sunken Titanic. The emerald fabric was like patina copper bedazzled in ruby red stones and flaps of golden stitched leaves that swayed. Some girl took it off the wall and tried it on destroying the entire thing. It was marked down from $485 to $70. The beadwork alone looked like a team of 30 people made it. The precious details seemed worthy of a museum. And yet some actress came in and asked for it for half price. I think I said, "I couldn't believe they made this $70 dollars -it's a century old--I would rather buy this myself then to see it go for $45. She made a face and decided to buy it for full price. These things are rare, delicate relics becoming extinct by the minute. TRy to find one before it's too late.
for the history lesson on Whitby and Jet : http://www.whitbyjet.co.uk/history.html
this other site has a great description on Mourning Garb