Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fit for a Queen

As reported by the Associated Press:

"A pair of Queen Victoria's bloomers, with a 50-inch waist, were snapped up for $9,000 by a Canadian buyer at a central England auction Wednesday.

"Auctioneer Charles Hanson said Queen Victoria's underpants belonged to 'a very big lady of quite small stature with a very wide girth.' She was said to be 5 feet (1.52 meters) tall. The handmade cotton knickers, which date to the 1890s, bear the monogram 'VR' for Victoria Regina. They are open-crotch style, with separate legs joined by a drawstring at the waist, a popular style in the late Victorian era.

"The royal drawers belonged to a family in western England whose ancestor was a lady-in-waiting for the queen.

"'These pants, considering their provenance and pedigree, are very exciting,' Hanson said. 'They are monogrammed and crested and we know that they are hers.'

"Also up for auction was Queen Victoria's chemise, with a 66-inch bust, which sold for $8,000. Her nightgown sold for $11,000.

"Before the auction, Hanson valued the underwear at $1,000, while the chemise and nightgown were valued at $600 each."

Additional information via The Globe and Mail (Canada):

The buyer, Barbara Rusch of Toronto, has collected Queen Victoria memorabilia of all kinds for about 25 years, but has never been able to bid on a pair of her bloomers before.

"This is a wonderful, wonderful find for me today and a great acquisition, a great treasure to add to my collection," she said.

Rusch also owns a pair of Queen Victoria's pink hand-embroidered stockings.

Read the BBC story here, The Guardian story here, and The Telegraph story here. The Mail Online previewed the auction here.

Shown here: Auction assistant Sam Rhodes models the royal bloomers.

Further Reading

Casey Finch, "'Hooked and Buttoned Together'": Victorian Underwear and Representations of the Female Body," Victorian Studies, Spring 1991, pages 337-363.

Leigh Summers, Bound to Please: A History of the Victorian Corset (Oxford: Berg, 2001).


Jayne said...

I hadn't realised actually how large Queen Vic must have been till I saw those bloomers!

Jeannette said...

I found your blog through Technorati as I recently joined. I love the history of our country and my interest increased when I worked on compiling my family tree.

I have read a good deal about Queen Victoria and her family. I knew she was very short in stature but never realised how very big she was in other ways! Thank you for this interesting piece.

geerte said...

Hi! I enjoy your blog a lot, I added it to my blogroll!

Kind regards,


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