Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cleaning Up an 1850's Wicker Baby Carriage

"Wicker Baby Carriage circa 1850"
Though this really wasn't a garment in dire need of attention, I decided to devote an afternoon to cleaning up this antique wicker baby carriage. The carriage was so cluttered that the beautiful wicker scrolls and the elegant design was lost. The carriage contained a rather scary and terribly grimy baby doll wearing an equally filthy baby outfit, two Christening gowns draped over the front of the carriage, a small wax floral bouquet, and an interesting period illustration that should've received more attention in the display.

Uhhh...yeah...well at least this is a nice photo of all the dust on the upholstery and wicker!
Electrical tape tied around the toes, on both feet...I think I've been working at the museum so long that stuff like this doesn't phase me anymore.
I believe that this carriage is a little later than 1850, maybe from 1860 onwards...
This beautiful illustration was barely visible among the contents of the carriage! This magazine clipping is from 1907. I'm surprised how most of the paraders are men, in a comparatively feminine subject area.
The two Christening gowns after I laid them out on an acid-free tissue paper-covered table, awaiting a nice cleaning to freshen them up. I'm still unsure as to how I'll properly display these.
The carriage is surprisingly sturdy, and when you move it, the bed has a bit of "bounce"--perfect for lulling a baby to sleep. There is even a brake mechanism, and a dotted net lace parasol suspended over the bed. The bed is made of corduroy, now brown, but probably once a lighter color; after I vacuumed the cushions, the area that had been covered by the baby doll seemed brighter and almost mustard-colored.

The wicker has been formed into graceful curlicues and spirals, and looks unusually intricate and detailed compared to similar carriages I found online. Whoever owned this beauty was really from the upper cusp of society, and I'm certain that they participated in frivolous promenades, just like the Newark Baby Carriage Parade!

Dot mesh lace parasol hanging over the carriage--it's terribly dusty.
Small bouquet of what appears to be wax flowers...why is this in here?

To clean the dust off of the wicker and the upholstery, I utilized my usual method of securing a rag over a vacuum nozzle. You could not believe how much dust I sucked up! I actually ran out of clean rag and had to use some paper towels--but it worked! The wicker curlicues can really shine now, and the almost mustard upholstery, really a great improvement. So far I haven't put anything back into the carriage, as I'm waiting on a new "baby" mannequin and I have several little baby garments to launder and freshen up.

I vacuumed up so many dust bunnies--no, dust horses--from the sides of the carriage.

1 comment:

  1. Wow it really is a work of art, isn't it! I am surprised at how well it scrubbed up!