Monday, January 28, 2019

Jewelry, Hair, and Make-up in the time of Mrs. Mary Chew Paca

     I was honored to be asked to speak by Janet Perkins Hall, the Volunteer Coordinator in Historic Annapolis on jewelry in the Paca House and Gardens.  It was the home of Mrs. William (Mary Chew) Paca.  The event was scheduled for 26 January 2019 during their Winter Talk Series.  That led me to think what I wanted to talk about.  I thought it would be interesting to incorporate hair and make-up into the mix.  They seemed to go hand in hand in my mind.

Eliza and I
Photo by Robin Matty

     There was no question I would ask Eliza Leigh Vincz of Silk & Sass to bring her expertise into the mix.  I was so glad she said yes and was available!  She also performs in the Ministers of Apollo Early American Music and Arts with her fiance, Erik Lichack.  She has given presentations on dressing her and others hair using the techniques of the 18th century with products that she makes.  A perfect match as I make my own jewelry!  At this talk, the plan was for her to make-up my hair.  I personally tend to not take the time with my hair for events as I use hair pieces and my caps to best advantage - that can be called lazy but also practical in the situations I find myself in - or events I find myself going to.

     I started out the presentation with a history of Mary - as how can you NOT start out a presentation without understanding who she was?  I had to set the focus of the talk.  She lived in the house from 1763 to 1774, married in her late 20's, and passed away in her late 30's.  The portrait above is of her sister, Margaret (who I actually portray during events at the site).  There is no existing portrait of Mary that  we know of; however, I would like to think there is one out there that has yet to be identified.  Otherwise, why would these two exist and the other is lost?  Oh wait, I didn't also tell you that Henrietta Maria's portrait is also out there?  Mary, where are you?  So we can at least hope that Mary looked similar to Margaret.  I am told that the curator of collections will be offering a tour that focuses on Annapolis and Colonial Painters in the coming months - something I want to attend.  

Me talking about Mary Chew Paca - a fact of me starting living history is due to
researching my own family history
Photo by Robin Matty

     I have done my research as usual.  I'm somewhat meticulous, and knowing that those in the audience may descend from the Paca family - I needed to be on point.  This included tying in orders from Annapolis merchants to businesses in London, identifing some of the jewelers and silversmiths in Annapolis in the time that Mary was living, and pointing out that Mary may have read the latest ads in the Maryland Gazette to find out what was available to her.  I included some local watch makers (including Charles Willson Peale), silversmiths, and goldsmiths.  Did she make an appointment to order items she may have wanted or needed?  If only the letters or order books that I know of had that detail.  I had some of my research materials (books) with me as well as original 18th century items to show their construction and awesomeness.  The senior historian in Annapolis was very impressed with my research and sources.  That in itself made the presentation!

     The event was sold out with a packed room.  There was a mixture of docents as well as interested public in attendance!  We had men and women in the audience, and we were able to talk to what influenced William and Mary, and those they would have known and associated themselves with.  Their taste in jewelry may have been in general terms or specific things that they inherited.  We do not know as it was not written down anywhere.  

     We then moved on to the hair and make-up portion of our presentation.  Eliza stepped in without missing a beat - a great team.  We wanted to show how Mary would have had her hair dressed for an evening at dinner using hair pearls from my shop.  Now, many out there think that the colonies were not fashion conscious this early on, yet in my research we know that William Eddis wrote in 1771 in his “Letters from America” that 

           “Annapolis reproduced the life of an English
             town of the day and that the changes of fashion
             in London found their way to Maryland more 
             quickly than they were adopted by many 
             persons of wealth in London itself…in short 
             very little difference is in reality observable in
             manners of the wealthy colonist and the 
             wealthy Briton.”

     Now to start the hair!  Eliza is very happy to take my very long hair and start to shape it into an 18th century style.

Oh goodness - we have started!

Pomatum and Hair Powder

In progress...

Now to the details

Things are taking shape!


Now for the rouge, lip color, and painting on the eyebrows!

A portrait in the Parlor

A close up of the back of my hair

Shenanigans in the Parlor!  Too bad it wasn't real punch.  Ha 

A selfie with Robin Matty, our photographer for the day and the curator of collections
at Historic Annapolis.

So honored that they had my book available for sale and refreshments for those who attended.  Janet is the hostess with the mostest!  My book can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or in my Etsy shop.