Check out this lovely multicolored piece of Smithsonite from Sinaloa, Mexico. The zinc carbonate mineral is named after the original founder of the Smithsonian Institute - James Smithson (c.1765-1829).
This sack-back - or robe à la francaise - is typical of gowns worn for formal or full dress occasions between the 1750s and 1770s. They were made to be worn over hoops or paniers, and the wide expanse of the skirts and the fullness of the back showed off the elaborate and expensive fashionable patterned silks of these decades. The cut of the gown altered gradually over time, whereas silk patterns changed seasonally, revealing how up-to-date the wearer was.
Leather bound swatch book, Lyon, France, ca. 1763-1764. V Samples of dress silks from a travelling salesman's book. The book was used to offer potential customers previews of the forthcoming season's fashionable designs and colours so that they could make orders. Click on the link to see more fabulous samples inside the book!