Accession number: 06.4338
Date: circa 1870
Measurements: 36 cm L x 37 cm W x 36 cm H
Narrative: An antimacassar is a small covering, usually ornamental, placed on the backs and arms of upholstered furniture to prevent wear or soiling. The word derived from Macassar, a popular hair-oil used by men in the 19th century. It was apparently concocted in the early 1800s by a Londoner named Rowland. He marketed the product as sweet oil from Makasser, a seaport city in what is now Indonesia and promised that it would increase growth where there has been baldness, strengthen the curl, and eradicate all impurities of hair. In the Victorian Age, it was in wide use by the men, but it created the problem of greasy deposits of the hardest of armchairs and furniture. To fix this problem, housewives invented the antimacassar. Originally, antimacassars were made of stiff white crochet-work, but as aesthetics took over, soft, coloured materials, such as embroidered wools or silk were used. In the 20th century the use of antimacassars largely died out.
Description: The mat is square and made of natural-coloured linen. The bottom of the mat has 5cm of ecru crocheted edging making a line of seven flower-like shapes. There are two symmetrical images embroidered on the front of the mat just above the crocheted edge, depicting various flowers bound in a blue satin-stitched bullion knot. There are pink flowers which are two different shades, blue flowers with yellow accents and pale green shamrock-shaped flowers. Embroidered in the space between the two symmetrical designs are a pink flower and a pale green flower.