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This wedding dress is composed of silk gauze woven with a repeating floral scroll on an openweave background. The dress was originally made with a pointed front bodice and a deeply shirred skirt in the latest style for Lucy Tappan's wedding to Henry Bowen in 1844. It closes with hooks and eyes up the center back. The dress has been modified for use by later generations of the family for their own weddings. In its current form the deeply pointed V-shaped bodice hem is attached to the shirred skirt. The wide lace collar is tacked to the bodice at the neckline.The sleeves are short, ending just at the lace collar's hem. The bodice is boned and lined with cream-colored linen. The skirt is unlined.
"Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England": Lucy Tappan married silk merchant Henry Bowen in 1844. Dressed in the latest style, she carried her bridal bouquet in a silver posy holder. This new accessory, designed to be held or tucked in a skirt waist, was wearable art. Bowen family members continued to wear Lucy's dress well into the 1950s, letting out the seams and changing the neckline.
This simple yet elegant silk dress and decorative collar shawl dates to c. 1844. The dressmaker is unknown. The dress was worn by Lucy Maria Tappan on the occasion of her marriage to Henry Chandler Bowen on June 6, 1844. Since then it was worn, and altered slightly, by successive generations of Bowen women for their weddings.
Gift of Charlotte Woodbury Spencer and Grace Woodbury Stone
1844 (modified at least once in the 1950s)