Wednesday, 8 December 2021

The pickadil

This strange object which looks like some type of ancient helmet is in fact an early seventeenth century pickadil which was used to support an open lace ruff or a standing band of linen and lace. It gave its name to the famous London street because a local tailor, named Roger Baker sold pickadils from his shop and house on what was originally Portugal Street but which subsequently became known as Piccadilly. 

Although the pickadil was used to support a lace ruff or band so only the lace could be seen from the front, it was designed to show at the back of the head. This example from the Victoria and Albert Museum reveals decorative stitching at the back and eyelet holes through which ribbons were slotted to attach it to a small stiffened collar on the gown. It is made up of several pasteboard sections joined together and covered in silk and is padded on the inside of the neck edge to make it more comfortable to wear. Making pickadils was skilled work and clearly very profitable in the case of Roger Baker.

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