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January 21, 2022

Photos of Old English Costumes Dating From ca. 1450 Through the 1870s

Talbot Hughes (1869–1942) was a British painter (of genre, history and landscape), a collector of historical costumes and miniature portraits, and writer on fine art and costume design. He amassed a collection of over 750 historical costumes and accessories, dating from ca. 1450 through the 1870s, which he used as studio props.

In 1910 he sold a small collection of bags to the Victoria and Albert Museum and also donated individual items, including an 1820s frock coat. In 1913, when Hughes decided to put the rest of his collection up for sale, he was offered £5,000 by an American department store who wished to donate it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rather than send his collection abroad, Hughes instead sold it to the department store Harrods in London for £2,500, where it was displayed for three weeks to advertise the store’s own range of women’s contemporary fashions.

After this period, Harrods transferred the collection by donation to the Victoria & Albert Museum, the result of negotiations by the then Director of the V&A, Cecil Harcourt Smith. The collection is still kept at the V&A. Talbot Hughes continued to donate individual items to the Museum up until 1931.


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