A HOUSEWIFE?


Louis supplied the following to the Prince of Wales’ household in 1789:

“To a striped silk Housewife filled with coloured silks, thread, needles & thimble for the Pages”.

I was going to say that the housewife sounds like a bag, but that might be taken the wrong way…

Anyway, it shows that the many pages were expected to perform running repairs to the royal wardrobe.

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6 Responses to A HOUSEWIFE?

  1. Kathryn Kane says:

    Like the variations of spelling with "brettels," there are several spellings of the name of this particular item, which originated in the 18th century. The first recorded instance of the term was in the mid-18th century. A "housewife," more commonly spelled as hussif, huswife, or hussive, was a pocket case made to hold a selection of needles, thread, pins, and in some of the larger ones, even scissors. It was the 18th- and 19th-century version of today’s little plastic sewing cases, to be carried in the pocket for making quick repairs. It would make sense that those who tended to Prinny’s wardrobe would want to have one or two in their pocket, should they come across a missing button or a split seam, which could then be repaired on the spot.Those of us who enjoy the craft of crazy quilting find hussifs an excellent way to display our needle skills. In addition, hussifs are well-received as gifts, even by non-sewers. Google the term "hussif" on the Google Images page and you will be presented with a plethora of these little cuties.Regards,Kat

  2. Charles Bazalgette says:

    Thanks, Kat. That is most illuminating. I looked up Housewife in the OED and it also said:3. Usually /ˈhʌzɪf/ . A pocket-case for needles, pins, thread, scissors, etc. (In this sense still often spelt huswife, hussive.)1749 P. Skelton Deism Revealed viii. (T.), Women‥spending their time in knotting, or making an housewife.1762 L. Sterne Life Tristram Shandy V. xvi. 72 To bring whatever he had to say, into so small a compass, that‥it might be rolled up in my mother’s hussive.1768 L. Sterne Sentimental Journey II. 98 [She], without saying a word, took out her little hussive, threaded a small needle, and sewed it up.1851 D. Jerrold St. Giles xv. 158 He placed a little silken huswife in her trembling hand.1868 ‘Holme Lee’ Basil Godfrey x. 54 She drew a thread of silk from the housewife.1871 T. Carlyle in J. W. Carlyle Lett. & Mem. (1883) I. 161 She tried anxiously all her ‘hussives’, boxes, drawers.It does look, though, as if ‘housewife’ was the original term. I suppose as a substitute for the real thing.Many thanks for the information – much appreciated.

  3. Pingback: The Pocket Housewife | The Regency Redingote

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  5. Pingback: A lucky sixpence hussuf (and what are hussuf or housewives) | The Dreamstress

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